Monday, April 30, 2012

Homeschooling: Lessons from the First Year

Have I mentioned that I homeschool?  Funny, I talk about it all the time on Facebook, but I haven't mentioned it much on this blog.  Hmm.

Hi, my name is Laura, and I'm a homeschool Mom.

As the title indicates, I'm still a "newbie."  Since we are (for the time being) doing school year-round and I started last June, we're about to wrap up our first full year.  Being still so new at this, I'm hardly an expert on anything ... except starting.  I guess I'm now an expert on getting started and surviving the first year.

 Here are some things I've learned so far:

1.  There are so many choices!

It's overwhelming, really.  First, I felt pressured (inward, not outward) to define my style: traditional, Charlotte Mason, unit study, Montessori, eclectic, unschooling, and so on.  Then for each style, for each subject, there are so many curriculum choices.  Yes, this is a good problem to have, but for a chronic undecider like me, it can be a struggle.  (This almost certainly puts me in the "eclectic" camp.)

Thankfully, so much can be gleaned from the Internet from the comfort of home.  I found some wonderful bloggers with equally wonderful materials that got me off to a good start.  I especially liked when they would post what curriculum they were using because it opened my eyes to some materials I didn't know existed.

2.  I'm a lot less structured than I thought I'd be - and it's OK.

When we first started, I had elaborate lesson plans worked out.  I had activities my children and I would all do together, some things just for Nathan, and some things just for Megan, with a careful plan for how to alternate spending individual instruction time with each child.

That lasted a couple of weeks.

First, I figured out pretty quickly that Megan just wasn't ready for much structured learning.  Then, I realized that Nathan was ready for more advanced topics than I had originally prepared.  So we adapted.  We're all much more relaxed, and it's better.

3.  I'm more comfortable one-on-one with each child than when they are together.

We still do some things all together, but most of Nathan's work is done with just me, and I plan to do the same with Megan this coming year.  This is kind of surprising to me because, as a college math teacher in the classroom, I'm much more comfortable lecturing in front of the class than tutoring an individual student.

4.  Everyone has an opinion!

When you tell someone that you're a homeschooler, people automatically make assumptions.  (I think most people immediately picture Michelle Duggar.  I admire many things about her, but she and I are quite different.)  Relatives are the ones most likely to express opinions.  Fellow homeschoolers, ironically, are the least likely to express them.

Nevertheless, here are my opinions on my least favorite parts of homeschooling:
  • The rest of the day.  The actual time spent "doing school" is the easiest part of my day.  But not only am I the teacher, I'm also the lunchroom lady, janitor, hall monitor, school nurse, secretary, and bus driver.  (However, I get to date the principal, so that's a nice perk.  ;) )
  • Trying to balance homemaking, homeschooling, and working from home.
  • I hate crafts.  There - I said it.
Here's what I love about it:
  • Getting to weave the Lord and the Bible into everything we do.
  • Watching my children learn.
  • Seeing my children continue the strong bond they have with each other.
  • Hearing my children pray for the nations of the world.  (I LOVE that one of Nathan's first questions when we learn a new country is, "Do the people there know about Jesus?  Do they have the freedom to go to church?")
  • Knowing my children on a new level.  For Nathan in particular, I have a much greater understanding for how he learns, how he responds to challenges, and the topics that excite him.  I'm looking forward to knowing these same things about Megan.
It has been a challenging first year, but I'm so glad we made this choice.

Do you homeschool?  If so, what have you learned this past year?

This post may be linked up to one or more of the following blog parties.  Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family Friday: 5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary, Pieces of Amy Other days: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home


  1. I'm glad you've had a good first year! It is definitely a learning experience for the mom as well as the kiddos:)

    1. So true! I figure I'll have this thing figured out in 15 years - about the time Megan graduates. :)

  2. This is our second year of homeschooling and we have been using the ABEKA video curriculum and love it! I never thought I would homeschool! I didn't think that I had the patience, but here we are 2 years later! I agree that I love seeing their eyes light up when the "get it". I also love that my kids are learning together and learning about God and His word. I am with you about the crafts, don't like them AT ALL!!!


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