Did that “Forever More” get your attention? I hope so. In this post I want to share with you how I have made homeschooling sustainable for my family.
I started out like most homeschool newbies trying to do things the way I did them at school. We had our flag and said the Pledge. We sat at the table and did workbooks, Spelling words, tried to memorize math facts, and basically drove each other crazy. You see, my oldest child did not learn well in that way.
I found out that he needed to move more. The actual process of moving helped him to learn better! So I started letting him move while he was doing his work, and I let him take lots of breaks. I only required short amounts of time for him to work. If he worked for 15 or 20 minutes on Math, I let him quit, even if he wasn’t done with the page. Sometimes I let him skip every other problem if there were a lot. Sometimes I let him skip whole pages or chapters if he already knew the information or if it was too hard for him to understand. I could tell if he was just not ready for a particular concept.
I Met Lots of Homeschoolers
I was blessed to do homeschool assessments for about 100 families for many years. I was learning right along with them, because I was just beginning to homeschool myself. I figured out some keys and shared them with my clients.
Some of the homeschool moms who came to me with their books, workbooks, binders full of school work and lists of activities that they had done during the year were very uptight and worried about the assessment. I tried to set their minds at ease. I truly admired them for the work they were doing with their children. I was amazed at the variety of styles, emphases, methods, and personalities of the women I met.
None of them did things in exactly the same way. Some were very organized and structured and used a boxed curriculum. Some of these moms seemed worn out and frazzled. Many of them didn’t seem very enthusiastic about homeschooling. They seemed to be doing it out of duty instead of delight.
Some Homeschoolers Were Excited
But there were others who seemed excited about what they were doing with their children. I remember one in particular who was using KONOS curriculum. She showed me lots of art projects that her kids had made, a video of a play they had acted out complete with costumes and props and scenery, and some written work that was creative and interesting. She brought in tote after tote full of things that she wanted to show me. I absolutely loved doing her assessment and got lots of neat ideas to try with my own kids. She was proud of what her kids did, and I could tell she was enjoying their homeschool days.
I remember my first introduction to the Sonlight curriculum. The lady who brought it to me had been a high school classmate. She was not a teacher, but she was a bubbly, fun, very smart person. She showed me the teacher’s manual with its schedule for each day of the week. I felt overwhelmed just looking at all that was planned for every day. But I was also intrigued by the titles of so many wonderful books that were included as readers and read-alouds. I decided that I wanted to read many of those books to my kids. So I ordered the free catalog and took it to the library with me and picked out books based on the subject I wanted to study! Boom!I decided that’s how I wanted to homeschool!
I Chose My Favorite Parts of What I Saw
I took bits and pieces of what I saw in curriculum and ideas for how to homeschool and put together what worked best for me. I didn’t try to do everything I saw others do. I only did a little of this and a little of that.
And I encouraged others to do the same thing. I told them to do things in a way that is pleasant and enjoyable for them and their kids. The boxed curriculum doesn’t have to be completed beginning to end. Even schools don’t finish their books. You can skip around in a book. You can skip chapters. Look for mastery. Find out if they already understand something, then let them move on.
Homeschooling is Not Like School
Homeschooling is not like school. You can do it in the way that works best for you. Cater to the interests, learning styles, and attention spans of your children. Mix things up. Keep it fresh and interesting. Make it fun for you, too! Study topics that they want to know more about and things that you want to know more about, too. Use your kids to research for you!
Some Ideas for Making Your School Days Interesting
Do plays for the topic or person you are studying. Write the script yourself or have the kids write it. Then act it out together, with or without costumes. We had a lot of fun with this.
Use some aspects of the Charlotte Mason method. I have found that narration, copywork, living books, nature study, picture and artist study, and composer study bring life to my homeschool days. Copywork gives the children practice with handwriting, exposure to good writing, and the chance to interact with Scripture or poetry or some passage that is meaningful to them on a regular basis.
The living books are my favorite part of homeschooling. I always have a book going with different groups of my kids based on interest, level of understanding, or subject that we are studying.
Nature study is very important and fascinating to me. Many of my children have followed in my footsteps and notice every bird, flower, butterfly, insect, and creature that we happen upon.
I love learning about Classical music and art with my children. I didn’t learn much about these as a child, so now’s my chance. I actually recognize some famous pieces of art and music and know something about many of the masters who created them.
These are some of the ways that I added delight to my homeschool. There are many other ways that will work for others. We are all different and enjoy different things and thrive with different styles of organization and structure. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
My Heart for Homeschool Moms and Kids
But the desire of my heart is to set homeschool moms free to explore their options. I want to encourage moms to do what works for them and their kids, not what a textbook or curriculum tells them to do. I want them to think about what they do and why. I hope I can help some to change the way they think about education and try to do things that are customized to the interests and desires of their children.
In this way, I believe that they will be more likely to continue homeschooling and make it a lifestyle instead of a separate task that just has to be done, like it or not. I think that moms and kids will be happier if they conduct their homeschool this way.
I Will Be Homeschooling Forever More!
My kids have appreciated the freedom and the variety of methods we have used. They have loved the stories we read together as a family. They have learned lots of stuff that I didn’t teach them. I didn’t even know or have any interest in many of the topics they were interested in. So I gave them freedom to explore these topics on their own. Many times I provided books and resources for them, but they studied on their own to the extent that they wanted to learn about them.
I still have at least 7 more years with my youngest, and I have a feeling that I will at least assist my children with homeschooling their children when they come along. The books will be read, the plays will be performed, the topics will be discussed, and nature will be observed for many years to come. And I am so happy that our learning lifestyle will continue because of the simplified, enjoyable, interesting, even entertaining way that we found to fit homeschooling into our lives.