Last week, I was very honest and shared my confusion and heartache over our homeschooling not looking like I always imagined it would. I was then the receiver of so much encouragement, advice, and “I’m right there with you” comments. It was really an amazing experience. I was so encouraged, in fact, that I rescheduled all of the posts for this week and with each author’s permission, I posted the comments from five commenters. I hope that you’ve enjoyed, been inspired, and/or been challenged by what they had to say.
It would seem like the week was not complete if I didn’t share again. I really took those words to heart, and I set out to see what was broken — was it my dream or our homeschool.
First, I prayed on it. I also did some soul searching. Did our homeschool not look like my ideal because of something I could control? Did I actually need it to look like I thought it should?
Already with doing those things (and with some of the comments I received), I came to some pretty important conclusions:
1. My kids are not me. What I think sounds like an ideal homeschool is not what they would say.
2. My ideal homeschool sounds lovely. That is, it sounds lovely for 34 year old me. I would venture a pretty safe bet that six year old me, nine year old me, and eleven year old me (the ages of my children) wouldn’t have been overly crazy about my ideal homeschool as it looks in my head now.
3. If I want homeschooling to not look like going through the motions, I need to embrace the things that they really love and try to run with it. That’s not to say that it is going to be all child led. But, that is to say that I know they all love science, so I need to find lots of ways to incorporate it in our day-to-day lives.
4. Each of my children is unique. If I really want to inspire them to love learning, it’s going to mean that at times, I will need to cater to only one of them. (I will admit that I cater to one particular child of mine. Not as a matter of preference, but because his needs are greater.)
Realizing all of these things, I knew my next step was to have a serious discussion about our homeschooling with my children. I did it over dinner one night, and it continued through an after dinner walk. I told them I wanted to know more about what they like about our homeschooling and what they don’t like. Are there things we could change or are there things they definitely wouldn’t want to change? (This was all I said, mind you. I didn’t try to lead them any further than this.)
The very first statement uttered at that dinner table made my husband quickly spin and look at me, since he read my sorrows in that post last week.
“I really like workbooks,” my nine year old son said. “I definitely want to keep using workbooks for the subjects we already use them in.”
Hang on. One of my main complaints was I thought we shouldn’t be using too many workbooks, and this is the first thing mentioned as a plus?
“Yeah,” my eleven year old chimed in, “The workbooks we use are good.” The six year old then agreed too. She said, however, that she doesn’t want to do any more workbooks, but she likes the ones we use. This maked the middle child ask, “Can we start doing a French workbook too? I’d really like that.”
Then, the conversation melted into repeated talk about Legos. (There will be a Lego class at our homeschool co-op next year.) Every time I tried to bring it back around, it went back to Legos. Finally, I was able to bring them back (after a lot of effort).
Talking to My Kids Taught Me the Following Things:
1. They like the workbooks, much to my shock. (I guess if I got rid of them, they would all miss them. Go figure.)
2. They like Teaching Textbooks and specifically asked not to change that. (I hadn’t planned on changing it, for the record.)
3. They definitely want lots of science. (This made me make some decisions about science that I didn’t expect, but it’s too long to go into now. Suffice it to say, they’ll be pleased.)
4. They all love history and want to continue with a hands-on and living books approach. They were all thrilled, also, to be reminded that we are stopping American History (we did it for two years) and moving to Ancient World History instead. I believe my eleven year old said, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
5. They want a more mature French program than the Hooked on French we had been using.
6. At least one of them doesn’t like art at all. He also would prefer no music instruction other than piano. (I did assure him that he would still do art with us anyway.)
7. They like that we read and talk about at least one poem each week and read some Aesop’s Fables.
8. They all enjoy the religion program that we use.
Of course, there were more declarations as well. But, I think the most telling was, again, from my nine year old that said, “Of all three years we’ve been homeschooling, this past year has been the best. I think it gets better every year, Mom. I can’t wait to see how it is next year!”
So there you have it, folks. What I have seen as a failure, they see as a smashing success. They like it the way it is.
I did propose that we add one afternoon a week where I have a large list of options for them to choose from that are not our normal activities. I told them, for instance, that they could pick from things like painting on canvas or building towers with the building material of their choice or creating storybooks or building a robot. I promised that I would get their input when making cards and I would give them lots of options. They were thrilled (and so was I).
So, thank you to everyone who took the time to encourage this week, or to be encouraged. I hope that you gained something from all of the sharing. I know that my biggest lesson I got was that just because I think something isn’t working, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t. I just needed to ask the right people.
Have you come to any new revelations this week about your homeschooling? Anything you want to change or keep the same?
Angie can be found writing about all of the things that happen in between loads of laundry at Many Little Blessings. She is also the founder of The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Mothers Online, and Connections Network. She is also very thankful knowing that she’s not alone in this homeschooling journey.