If you missed the first post about our first year of homeschooling, you can check it out here: Our First Year of Homeschooling – Curriculum.
It’s been 6 months since we started on our homeschool journey with my 9 year old son. To say that we’ve learned quite a bit would be an understatement. As a family, we have changed our routine, mindset and even the way we interact with each other in terms of learning because of homeschooling. Since my son spent his first few years of school in the public school system, we have had an interesting time getting him acclimated to his new way of learning. I haven’t written fully about his homeschool experiences since September, so I figured this would be a great time to recap what we have encountered along the way.
It Was Easier (and tougher) Than We Expected
We’d heard horror stories about homeschooling and the lack of time we would have. We’d also heard amazing stories of how family life changed for the better once homeschooling was introduced into the routine. I have to admit, things were way easier than we thought they were going to be. With a newborn in the home, a little preschooler that was determined to go to school this year, and now a 4th grader homeschooling, I was expecting to cry almost every single day. That just wasn’t the case. We transitioned into homeschooling pretty well. My two oldest were already used to a routine, and the baby just needed to be with me at all times. As long as I set up my son with his homework, and taught him the lessons he needed to know for the day, we got through our workload within a few hours. But, there were some very trying times. Those times usually revolved around my son not wanting to do his work for the day. Those days ended up multiplying from time to time, and it frustrated the hell out of me. It was tough to have him not won’t to do work that I knew he could finish within 20 minutes.
I Gave Up Control
As mentioned before, my son and I constantly butt heads when there was an assignment that I knew he could do in record time, but he just wasn’t feeling it. It took me quite a few times to learn this hard lesson, but I had to give up control. Because of his age, he’s already developed his learning preferences, and sometimes the way the curriculum wanted him to learn something frustrated him to the point where he didn’t want to work anymore. For example, he’s great at distributive property, but prefers to do it in his head. That doesn’t fly when you have to show all of your work in your workbook. He could figure out the answer in just a few seconds, but loathed having to write out the parentheses. Unfortunately, he gets this from me. When you’re Math bee champion for 3 years in a row in elementary school, it’s definitely because you can figure out math answers in your head. Once I realized what the real problem was, I let go and let him learn in his own way.
I Had To Watch Closely
Giving up control can be a double-edged sword. You want to give them independence to learn their own way, but that could mean that they will get lazy with their work. Even worse, they could get rid of the work all together, and choose to play around. My son uses the Time 4 Learning website for his language arts school work, and his supplemental science work. I use this time to either take care of the baby, or do my own work on my own computer. The problem is, he’s fast. He’s really fast with his work and uses that excuse to play games on the Time 4 Learning website, or look up Minecraft videos online. Not good, homeboy. So, I had to pay more attention to what lesson he’s doing that day, and if it’s something that wasn’t very challenging, I would immediately print out worksheets for him to do offline. At this point, I know what science, math, and language arts lessons were easy for him, and which ones were bit more challenging. I have supplements ready of the challenging lessons for those days that he speeds through new lessons.
I Had To Listen
One of the main reasons we decided to homeschool is because we listened to what our son wanted to learn about, and what he had decided he wanted to be once he’s older. He was determined to learn more about all aspects of science, and because he was so passionate about it, we made this arrangement. The issue now is that the curriculums, and my fears of him not “learning enough” starts to keep him from learning what he wanted to learn at home. I got caught up in the language arts and math, and didn’t give him time to explore enough science. We essentially turned into the school system we had taken him out of just months prior. While I’m still leery of having him plan his whole school day, or entertaining the idea of unschooling (which might actually be best for him), I have to listen to what he is passionate about that day, week, or month.
We Got Meta
While we do follow curriculums, I quickly learned that meta learning was a great avenue for our family. While my son thrives in this learning atmosphere, I noticed that my 4 year old girl did as well. Even though she spends half a day at preschool, she still wants to learn what brother is learning, and the meta learning atmosphere was amazing for the whole family. During my birthday week, we learned about shellfish. What sparked this conversation was my birthday dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. My husband explained the anatomy of a lobster at the dinner table, and we were off. We also had Minecraft, personal finance, and grocery shopping meta learning sessions.
There’s so much more I want to share about our homeschool experience this year, so I’ll wrap it all up in an end-of-year post in May.