Monday, October 06, 2008

On Homeschooling and What I Am Learning

I've had a couple of people ask in the last few weeks about our homeschooling adventure, so I thought I would give you a peek into our day.

We have a basic schedule that we work our day around. 

The kids get their breakfast, morning chores, and independent school work done from 7:00-9:00 am. School starts formally (with me playing teacher) at 9:00. Or so. It all depends on the coffee maker, because at this point in our day I have been up for awhile, and need fresh coffee!

From 9:00 - 12:30 we do Bible, American History & Geography, Language Arts, Math and Science.  After lunch the kids work on special projects. Last week they did reports on animals, so they worked on that in the afternoons. Three times a week we also do short studies of Art/Poetry/Music.  

 The kids are usually finished with the daily work between 1:oo and 2:00. I spend the next hour or two grading papers from the day and getting things prepared for the next day. It's a lot of work, but it's doable.

I am enjoying the process and application that is homeschooling. I love getting to watch the kids learn, and learning more myself. In many ways I wish that I could have learned in a literature based curriculum because history comes to life through the power of story. 

All in all, homeschooling is a very positive thing.  I know it is right for both the kids and our family at this time in our lives. I like knowing what the kids are learning. 

But, I would be lying if I didn't mention that I am also grieving things in life that came with having children in more traditional schooling. I am used to seeing and talking to family/friends every day, in some form or another. Whether having lunch a couple times a week with friends or my mom and dad, hanging out at the gym, volunteering at the school or talking on the phone, my days were filled with relationship.

Making sure that we are home for most of the day to complete school is a bit isolating.  I can't visit with friends and teach third and fifth grade math at the same time! Although, just between you and me, I have tried... It just doesn't work.

The bottom line is that my time is no longer my own, and I am learning to cope with that. I have lessons to go over, and papers to grade and books to pre-read. It leaves precious little time to write, to sew, to hang out for hours doing my own thing! It's a full time job without the benefit of pay, or water-cooler chats with co-workers, or someone to tell you how you're doing. 

I have found that I am relearning the lesson that all parents learn when the honeymoon of parenting has long gone and the long nights of bleary-eyed feedings have ceased to be new: I am learning the lesson of selflessness. I am learning that in Christ I can do all things, and that I am never alone, although I sometimes feel lonely.

Now, before you feel sad for me, I am someone who doesn't stay lonely for long. I have good friends here in our new (old) home. I joined the local home school association last week, and before October is over we will have gone to three different field trips. I have joined our ladies bible study, and soon the kids will be in sports again. Soon I will have more than my plate can hold. 

I am learning more than head knowledge. I am learning more about myself; learning where I am weak and need God's encouragement; learning where I have strengths I never knew I had. 

I think God puts me in these types of situations a lot. He knows that I invest a lot of energy in putting my trust in "man". He knows that I often fill up and get energized by spending time with people; That sometimes I turn to people to fill me up, instead of turning to God.

This last week God reminded me that we may fail others or they may fail us, but God will never leave us(Deuteronomy 31:6). He is our friend (John 15:15). Our comforter (2 Cor. 1:3). He is our great Teacher (John 3:2). 

I am uncertain if I what I am feeling right now is Arizona-homesickness, or feeling isolation in a new place in life. I think it's a bit of both. 

So schooling at home is good. Great, even! I can't imagine not doing it right now, but there is a learning curve and it's much, much bigger than reading, writing and arithmetic.

It's pictures like these that help me remember why I do it at all....

The Girl in our schoolroom, studying spelling over a morning cup of hot chocolate.
The Boy enjoying a book about Squanto and the Pilgrims

Kona the Wondermutt: Learning at the School of Hard Knocks. School has not interfered with her social life. This morning she rolled in poop while visiting her neighborhood canine friends (we live in a very dog friendly neighborhood, where our dogs are free to visit each other). 

She is learning that when you play, you pay. She is learning what it's like to be an outside dog, until I can give her a bath this afternoon.

This wraps up our school adventure!  Aren't you sorry you asked?


La Vida Dulce!


mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I love your honesty, Kellie. It's refreshing. I think I would love homeschooling, but I know that giving up my time alone would likely be my biggest challenge.

I love the pics of your kids...especially your son reading on the stairs!

Lindsay said...

I am glad you are getting involved with new things (I knew you would)but that always help a person to heal from the homesickness of another location.

I love those little treats in your homeschooling pictures.. the cup of hot chocolate and the reading spot your son picked. I love that your neighborhood is so doggie friendly!

JanMary said...

Thanks for sharing. A fascinating insight. I know no-one here in N Ireland who home-schools.

I am sure you will never regret the time you are taking now with your children.

Hugs and prayers.

Michelle@Life with Three said...

I agree with Meredith -- I do appreciate your honesty. You're so genuine -- and I love that you're the kind of person who tells it like it is! It sounds like God is really using this experience to shape you and when this season is finished, I know you'll walk away having learned so much more than you thought possible. :)

Emily said...

Hi from Maine.

It's my sixth year of homeschooling, and just this afternoon I was remembering (again) all that you wrote about. A full-time job, that today took me until 4pm, before I could lift my head from my third cup of coffee. And one I can't imagine trading for anything.

I was so encouraged by your post. Thanks!

Tiffani said...

Okay, I just sent you an email before checking in here...and I did ask that question!!

Wow, do you know how long I could type here??? I am like a keystroke away from saying "here's my #, let's talk!!" I am so proud of you! You are really doing a GREAT job and you seem like you have things organized and on a schedule (with flexibility, of course) I was glad to see that you joined a group...I was gonna suggest that in this comment but you are on the ball!

You know if you need anything please email me and I'd love to chat with you about anything and everything...we can exchange our faves, what works for me/what doesn't, etc.

I absolutely ADORE the pic of your sweet boy on the stairs...I mean, that's one of a million reasons I love to homeschool...he looks completely comfortable and into what he's reading!!

I promise that I don't homeschool in my gown, though :) (and btw, you know gown is a 2 syllable word in the south, right?) ;)

Rae said...

I loved this post! You hit the nail on the head with your candidness! Thank you!! As I research homeschooling and broach the "me" time with other mom's they look at me as if I'm crazy. One of my biggest fears about homeschooling my children is not being able to go to lunch, shop or just do what I want when I want. I am still mulling over the homeschooling situation for our family. Patience and prayer!

Megan O. said...

Thanks so much for sharing this season of life with us. We haven't entered the whole "school arena" yet but I've tiptoed quietly around the idea of homeschooling (very quietly!). Thanks for such an honest and hopeful look at what your time looks like. I agree with somewhat else already said--you'll never look back and regret this time you're investing in your kiddos.

Michele said...

You are doing a great job, and trust me, trust me, trust me your feelings are completely normal. The LORD and I have been round and round on the things I so want to do if my children were in school. I have a selfish streak in me that I have to fight daily!!! There have been times when I have told the LORD, "But I want to do such and such, or when will I get to such and such, or why can't I such and such." Yet I know down to th very depths of my soul that this is what the LORD has called me to do during this season of my life. When you homeschool your life is not your own anymore, but then again the Bible tells us that we have to die to ourselves (homeschooling or not homeschooling). But, for a stubborn girl like myself I learn much better through hands-on life experience.

It sounds like you are doing great with having a schedule. I am a social butterfly myself and many people have been quite surprised that I homeschool because it does appear that it brings about isolation. However, once you get involved in the homeschool group and your kids are involved in their sports, you will find that your social calendar is FULL!! The blessing of that is that your friend basis is such a wide variety- homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, etc.

Whether you homeschool throughout this school year and your kids go back to school next year or whether you homeschool them until they go to college I can promise you will NEVER, EVER, NEVER regret this precious time you have with your children. My children have taught me way more through homeschooling them than I have ever taught them.

If you have need ANYTHING - advice, a listening ear, questions, whatever I am more than happy to help you in anyway that I can. I will be praying for you as you continue your journey!!!

jen said...

Picture me with my hand raised, saying, "Me too! Me too!" about this homeschool gig...'cept I don't have the dog that rolled in poop part. Really glad about that for me but sorry for you.

Tanya said...

This is such a great post. That lesson of selflessness is a tough one. We seem to learn it over and over, but never fully. Thanks for the encouragement and for your EXAMPLE of sacrifice.

Blue Skies said... everything

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

What a wonderful post!

I keep going back and forth on whether or not to homeschool. I'm just not sure.

Reading this helps me to get a better understanding of the whole picture. It seems a lot of things I have read are just SO POSITIVE!!! that I don't believe them. Thanks for giving me the good and the bad!

Musings of a Housewife said...

It sounds like you're in a great place! :-)