Thursday, November 08, 2012

What I love about homeschooling

Putting the toddler bed together for the little one that has grown out of her baby bed.  I love that my kids can "help" me build things.  They can watch how to use tools and try it themselves and feel capable.  The littlest one even occupied herself by slipping things through a knothole in one of the boards.

I have a love/hate relationship with homeschooling and staying at home.  While on the one hand I wouldn't have it any other way it's often really hard!  I'm not great at consistency and our school time varies from day to day, but this post is all about the "other stuff" in day to day life and what practical homeschooling looks like.  It's not just about being home to do book work.  It's building relationships and nurturing my kids interests and personalities.
Speaking of personalities, my middle one loves to wear dresses and I love the fact that it doesn't matter if she wears the same dress every day or changes her clothes 6 times in one day.  The advantage of being home is that she has that freedom of expression and less opportunities to be teased. 

I love how my girls have to learn to get along.  While it can be frustrating to break up arguments or fights so often, the rewards are really great.  Lily is almost 7 and plays with her baby sister so well!

While it's often.. often.. quite frustrating to try to homeschool around a toddlers activities and getting into stuff and wanting attention the whole time.. it's also fun to see her so interested in what her older sisters are doing.  PLUS, she'll probably be a lot easier to teach when she's school age!  My middle one has heard so much from my teaching her older sister that she's ahead of where she needs to be and her school is easy for her.

Ok.. so part of the reason why I'm not great at being consistent with school time is that I NEED to create.. I need to do my own projects and hobbies.  This week wasn't any "fun" sewing.. just alterations and so on, but it was nice to be able to get some clothes to fit Lily and myself (and her doll) and it's really great that the girls see me doing this.  I hear so often from adults "I couldn't do that".. is it because they didn't grow up with this being "normal"?  We are a "do-it-yourself" family and I love how Lily (6) is already showing so much resourcefulness and creativity!

Oh yes, and speaking of their own personalities.. here is the 18 month old who INSISTS on wearing her muppet shirt as MUCH as possible listening to the new Christmas CD that we got of the Muppets!  I love seeing their interests and personalities come through and change as they grow.

Another great thing about homeschooling is that we can go to the zoo and take field trips whenever we want!  Also, as we learned about rocks this week (reading books from the library about rocks and watching a science video) we got to grow crystals on a little snowman from the dollar store.  PLUS at the zoo today I got some rock candy for the girls and after enjoying it the whole time and learning about Elephants and playing and having a grand time there, when we got home I found a time laps video on YouTube of rock candy forming! 

We've been to the zoo a bunch of times but never went to the keeper encounter with the elephants!  It was really fun to hear about them.  Gracie jumped when one of them trumpeted, and my smart little 4 year old came up with her own questions to ask the zoo keeper and even remembered the answers well enough to tell her Daddy at dinner time!  Renna told him, "Elephants don't eat rock candy.  They eat leaves and grass and have apples for special treats."

Being able to teach my girls what we believe is a big part of homeschooling as well.  When they climbed this rock we sang our song for the week, "The wise man built his house upon a rock" and got to talk about Jesus with them again.  I love hearing them sing songs of all kinds.  Before we drove to the zoo Renna was singing "Meet me in St. Lewie Lewie meet me at the fair!"  Totally cute!  Especially when she squeaked the "tootsie wOOtsie" part out.  ;]  Okay, so old movies are a fun thing to share with my kids too.  :} 

Having lunch while watching the lions?  Yes, that can happen whenever we want.  I love how this picture captures the moment of my oldest caring for her baby sister.  I also love that we can avoid most of the crowds by going places during the middle of the day during the middle of the week.

Homeschooling is all about capturing the moment and not trying to rush too much.  Obviously we've got to stay somewhat on track, but we can take 10 minutes to run in the leaves!  Oh, and then talk about the leaves and why they aren't green and so on and so on.  It's all about using the interruptions and distractions.  Is this easy?  Not often.. it takes creativity and flexibility.  I struggle with not being too flexible.. some people struggle with needing to be more flexible .. all of us need to find that balance of going with the moment and still getting the main stuff done each week.  The main thing is that they are learning stuff and learning to enjoy learning.

I'm sure I could come up with other things I like about homeschooling, but this will do for now.  It's encouraging to realize that while I very often feel like I'm not doing enough in so many ways -- not being consistent enough with them or not reading enough to them or not playing enough with them or letting them watch too many shows on Netflix or not taking them out to activities enough or needing to put them in gymnastics or music or take them to the museum or something something something that I feel I'm not doing and should... It's nice to see the other great things that homeschooling facilitates.