Judging Homeschool - Part One
One of the things I promised myself when we began homeschooling was that I would think about it a lot to make sure that it was really the right thing for our family. With five weeks under our belt and a two week break for the holidays, it has seemed like a good time to discuss with myself how things are going.
Fact #1 – We are doing just fine! I do not feel that by having my kids at home they are getting behind academically.
For Math we are staying on target with their school textbooks and supplementing with Khan Academy online. (Ellie is 94% done with Khan’s 3rd grade Math, and Meg is 46% done with Khan’s Early Math, which goes through 2nd grade).
With English, our family has always done a lot of reading. We are adding in grammar and memorizing, which I feel is great. And also some skills about summarizing and narrating – which drives Ellie crazy and will certainly help with essay writing. I’ve felt a little bit low on the writing side, but we are joining a “Great Books” seminar for the second semester that will fill in that gap for us.
Fact #2 – I was wrong about the school not getting enough done each day! There’s no other way to say it, I was just wrong! Perhaps not all the teaching was “on level” for my children, but the fact that elementary schools get through all those topics (math, English, social studies, singing, gym class, art, science, etc.) is downright amazing! Obviously my children never ate lunch – which is a problem – but 100 gold stars for all that other stuff. Whew! I cannot possibly figure out how to “get it all done” myself.
Our family has followed a monthly topic for our Science unit. We did Magnets in November, and Stars in December. We have done a few experiments, watched some YouTube videos, and made a solar system out of bouncy balls, but I don’t feel that my science curriculum is blowing their minds.
For history we are reading “History of the World.” I like the text, and there are some great enrichment activities to go along with it. I need to read ahead for the next semester so that I can schedule in more of the “heavily-prepared” activities. We’ve mostly been coloring maps, and I know they would like to do more.
For art, we have done two sewing projects. Um, that seems a little pathetic. Especially since we haven’t finished the second! Part of the problem is that we’ve gone to homeschool activities on “Art Fridays” and I don’t feel bad about having some Archaeology instead of Art, but I also need to do more with the sewing. Where is the time?
For service and family history, boy am I behind! We’ve done a little personal history, but not any family history. And we have not been to the Retirement Home at all. Outright fail there.
We are doing much better on being contributors in the home. The kids each help with a certain category of job all day (household cleaning, household project, laundry) and they also take care of their room responsibilities and fold their own laundry. They are learning how the machines work in our home, and learning to sweep, and vacuum, and wash windows. I never was a Saturday family cleaning kind of person, so this is much more “household help” than they were doing before.
Admittedly, we do have some much more productive scripture study in the morning. And this was an important part of us doing homeschooling. So, that gets a point there. We have more discussions on questions the kids have. They can find scriptures on their own. They memorize, and study both topically and chronologically. Don’t worry they also color and kick each other under the table. The point is that scripture study is going better, and is more useful than it was before. But is this enough? Can’t we figure out how to do that in the evenings as well?
Fact #3 – “The Vision” Hypothesis
This is my main thought about homeschool right now: I am certainly “doing fine,” but our family is sacrificing a lot for this. The girls have given up time with their friends, and great teachers and projects at school, I have given up time, many projects, and cleaning efforts (not so sad about that one) around the house, and Spencer has given up a lot of one on one time with his pretty cool Momma ;) . Honestly, Sterling comes out ahead because he LOVES being with his siblings, and gets picked up way more than when it’s just me at home. He also gets two naps. Hallelujah! Grant will be going to preschool in January, and is doing great at reading – which is my main goal with him. So, those two aren’t sacrificing much. But if the rest of us are just “doing fine” is it worth pulling them out of school where they are also “doing fine” and we’re not making those same sacrifices?
I am not sure, but this much I do know. Homeschooling for our family is only right if it goes “beyond”. And this is where I’m struggling. Part of me wants to cross all my t’s and dot all my i’s. I want to be able to prove that I’m checking all the boxes off that will make their education what it should be. But I really can’t check off all those same boxes that they check off at school. There is one of me, and I don’t have the energy to do all that. So, if I am just trying to “replicate” public school at home, then this is a bad idea. I should send them back and let them have that great experience and figure out how to add my important “home” stuff in during my “home” time.
But!!!! if I can let go of checking off the boxes and do something "different" then I will be on the way to what I wanted to do in the first place. My main problems with this are:
1 1. letting go of my compulsiveness and
2 2. even managing to see a vision of what I want to be doing in the first place.
Sooooooo, the long and short of this initial analysis is that if I can find this vision, and let go of the “busywork” to embrace it, then homeschooling will be worthwhile. But how exactly do I do that???