This was one of my “I LOVE homeschool” weeks. We all have our times of vulnerability, but for every time like that there are so many others when I say, “YES! I love my job and there is no place else I want to be at this point in our journey.”
What made it such a great week?
Individualized Learning – This is what we are all hoping for when we start homeschooling. Unfortunately sometimes I get caught up in comparing what we are doing to traditional school. This week I was really able to appreciate the unique characteristics of our environment and how those elements support learning and growth.
Science Olympiad Team – Several months ago one of the moms in a Facebook group asked if anyone would be interested in putting together a Science Olympiad team. I’m so thankful for all the work she did. I’m also thankful for the awesome mom who volunteered to coach Aerodynamics and Simple Machines. Over the course of the last couple of months the boys learned so much. More importantly we made new friends who enjoy science and engineering and just as much as we do.
Geography Club – Another mom put together a Geography Club for homeschoolers. Once a month we gather for the kids to do presentations and enjoy a potluck lunch. Each month has a theme like desserts, rivers, or countries on the equator and each family group presents on a different area. The kids range in age from 4 year old helpers to 13 year olds. The presentation can be anything the kids want, so there are skits, power points, presentation boards and games. It’s a very supportive environment, perfect for increasing the kids comfort with public speaking.
Testing – Lately my social media feed has been full of PARCC testing / common core backlash. Out of curiosity, I took the practice English and Math tests my oldest would take if he were in public school. To sum it up in one word – tedious. I could see it being frustrating for some kids and exceedingly tedious for others. Given – most standardized tests share those characteristics, but these really seemed to take it to a new level. It may sound selfish, but I’m so thankful we aren’t part of the public school system and forced to take these. When we started homeschooling our dyslexic son, it was so we could focus on doing the things that would truly be helpful for him instead of wasting time and energy fighting for the things he needed. We also wanted to focus on learning instead of constant assessing. I really feel a lot of empathy for the parents and teachers who are working to improve the system. Most parents want more time to be spent on learning activities that are truly beneficial to the kids.
Milestones – Those learning to read days can be exhausting, especially with dyslexia, but they make certain moments so completely precious. This week my son picked up a book he was interested in and read independently. This isn’t the first time, but these moments really warm a homeschool mom’s heart. His love of reading is intact!!
Achievements – I keep a spreadsheet of “school” hours for the entire school year. This week we completed the 900 hours mandated in our homeschool notification. It’s very freeing. We still have some math and grammar to complete before the end of the year and there are lots of other projects on our “to do” list, but knowing our hours are complete feels good. Beyond checking the box, it felt good to look at the mix of hours and think of all the things we get to do with our time. There are so many valuable learning experiences outside the scope of traditional school. I’m not sure how many hours we will have by the end of May, but I am confident we’ve spent plenty of hours on “core” subjects while fueling our interests with experiences and hands on learning opportunities.
Flexible schedules – The weather has been brutally cold here lately. This week we had a few breaks where things were a little warmer and the kids were able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. We even went skiing one morning! We still logged 30 hours of school. I know some people act concerned when homeschoolers are out having fun while other kids are in school, but it is actually good preparation for white collar and independent work situations. The work is always there. You have to find ways to schedule your time to accomplish your goals, but make sure life isn’t completely taken over by work. This is one of the major adjustments students have to make in college. They’ve never had the ability to schedule their own time and it can be a difficult skill to learn. I’m glad we are getting practice now.
Meaningful volunteer opportunities – I enjoy that homeschooling gives me the time and flexibility to work on projects that are meaningful to me. I’ve gotten involved in a group that is supporting the growth of FIRST LEGO League in our area. It’s great to be able to contribute to increasing STEM learning.
We started this homeschool journey four years ago as an experiment. Every year things change a little. We find more and more experiences we enjoy and groups that fit us well. Things are always changing, but each year I grow more and more thankful that we took the path less travelled.