It’s been about a year now. We will finally have finished one year of homeschooling after my daughter’s recital June 10th. What have I learned? Homeschooling is hard, and not for the faint of heart. I make mistakes. Often. I have friends who genuinely don’t really like spending tons of time with their kids. Homeschooling would NOT be for them. I have friends who go to work to escape their kids. Homeschooling would NOT be for them, either. Homeschooling is intense. Its personal. It involves the whole family, working together as a team. It really is seeing your kids, their different learning styles and trying to grab onto those 5 second interests to get them excited about learning more.
I realized right away, that homeschooling doesn’t need to look like, nor should I try to make it ANYTHING like regular school. I used to be a high school special education and transition teacher. I made the mistake of trying to do school at home, like I did in public school. The thing is, the biggest reason public school fails our kids, is making school a one-size shoe box to fit all learners. This is not how people learn. This is not how my kids learn. Homeschooling should NOT look like public school. It should be learning in our pjs, letting them eat a snack and drink hot cocoa. Allowing kids the opportunity to listen to their own bodies, recognize their own needs to get food, use the bathroom, or take a brain break and not have it dictated to them when they can eat, pee, or pause from learning. The classroom needs to look like real life…in the kitchen, in the car, at the dentist office, out in nature. It should look like whatever makes them comfortable while learning something new, and finding that subject that they are fascinated by to help inspire them to want to learn more.
Want to know what worked the best for us this year? Gameschooling. Yep, you heard that right. Game- schooling. (If you are interested in knowing more about gameschooling, go to THIS site. It is eye opening!) We play games. My kids learn more playing games than anything, because right now their interest levels, attention span, and desire for fun are at the gaming level. Plus, it helps my kids see their dad and I play board and card games frequently and so they want to play like us. My 4 year old knows the 50 states and about half the capitals or state nicknames right now. At 4!! My 7 year old has mastered addition with games and her reading skills just took off. Even my 2 year old has picked up on counting to three, as well as some color recognition, and knows about five states because of gameschooling. Mostly my daughter is the one we were homeschooling this past year, but the benefits have already really paid off with her siblings as well.
Another factor we struggled with, was making sure my daughter, who is very social, got her social interaction she wanted. We had a lot of hit and miss with people not showing up for play dates and such in the fall. But it turned out that our joining some coops was all we needed to make things work. Now we do a Tuesday Adventures Ahead group that is very good at meeting regularly for 2 hours (though we personally have failed the last 2 weeks with illnesses that turned out to be just allergies, sigh). We have a Thursday general music class with Tacoma Area Homeschool Band. The kids have a science class at the Tacoma Nature Center they have equally loved. I have found that we all do better, when we are out and about. My kids have always been active and busy. We do better as a family when we are outdoors and active. When I say “do better,” I mean less yelling and bickering and fighting amongst eachother when we are home.
What plans do I hope to change and make for next school year? Well… I hope to make our homeschool, more informally year round. I mean, we are all constantly learning! I plan to have us stay active by having the weekly coops. We will have a PE class next year and adding a full day coop of classes, but it will also be important to incorporate down time. We will need this because I am also due with our fourth and final kid in December. I will be one tired mama. I plan to do a lot of gameschooling. I hope to have my older two kids doing some Raddish Kids cooking classes, and still do Tacoma Nature Center Science classes. I hope to have a better “afternoon” homeschooling structure since that is when the youngest naps, and the perfect amount of time for homeschool work. But this is also the time I crash and pass out as well… so I will need to finagle this a bit. I also realize that my daughter learns equally as well at night, as she does during the day. If not better. She is a night owl like her daddy, and this may be the time where her dad could help with the math portion of homeschooling and have some one on one time that she so desperately wants with him.
I want to add, emphasis on “I hope” because… plans change. Life happens. We will go with the flow and learn as we go. They will only be in kindergarten and 2nd grade. They don’t need to know everything and I want them to still just be kids. There is a lot going on in the world today. I want them to stay young for as long as they can. I have to give myself some grace with homeschooling as well.
I have learned a lot this year, obviously. I am still learning as I go. I will share my “Why we homeschool” post and “The Games We Love” post in the near future.