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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Evolving Homeschool

Several months back I was talking to a homeschool momma friend of mine that I hadn't talked to in awhile.  She made the comment that I had it all together and that I always had such great ideas and activities with the kids.  I laughed and told her she hadn't seen me in the last couple of years.
When I started out "homeschooling" 7 years ago, I was starry eyed and excited and only had one little girl who loved to learn and a baby boy.  I knew I wanted to make it fun for them to learn.  And time and circumstance allowed me to saturate them with learning full time.  Lapbooks, experiments, crafts, full subject content gone over every single day, field   When Chloe came along, even though I had to "slack" a bit I still ran full force ahead with it.  I made some rookie mistakes but considered this whole thing a success.
But you know the thing about life is that it tends to "happen" right when things are going smooth, or at least it seems that way.  5 years ago, things began to change on the homeschooling front.  Somethings that made me have to re-evaluate the way I did things before and how that way just wasn't working anymore.  Changes had to be made.  And that, friends, was hard.  I don't like change...
I had a complicated, tiring pregnancy with my 4th child.  At that point we did good to accomplish the 3 r's.  And the guilt crept in.  Was it possible for these kids to learn without all the bells and whistles and the fun?  By not doing projects and lapbooks was I making my kids stupid?  Of course not, but that's what my emotions were telling me.  I never got my "groove" back in the homeschooling area after Ty was born.  Then 3 years later when Jody passed we slipped into survival mode and I felt as if I was an utter failure in every area, but especially in the homeschooling area.  We were back to the 3 r's and I honestly had no energy to work up a whole lot of "fun", truthfully, the kids didn't have it in them either.
Funny thing was, they didn't become stupid!  Even without all the fluff and filler, they seemed to thrive.  Jack learned to read with very little instruction, Lillie's math took off, Chloe finally got interested in learning...Tyler survived (that's about all I can say for him).
The way we do things now has DRASTICALLY changed!  We're back in the swing of things, but it's not the same as it was when I started out.    I have said all this to say that it's ok to change.  It's ok to drop things that don't work and try new ways, it's even ok to take long breaks from "structured" learning to be a little more laid back.  It's perfectly fine to take seasons of grace when life throws something difficult in our paths to just enjoy our family.  If you love your kids, and you nurture them....if you read to them, give them opportunities to explore, keep learning fun , they won't be stupid...I promise.  Children have this amazing ability to learn in spite of our "teaching".  Homeschooling is very much an ongoing experiment.  If you find yourself frustrated because, for some reason , you can't "do" it all like you used to or life has interfered with "the way things were", can I just encourage you to not stress and don't give up out of fear or insecurity.  Veteran homeschoolers can testify to this...things change.  Educational goals, ideals , and philosophies change, curriculum changes, learning styles change,  finances change, family dynamics changes.  And change isn't's our inability to accept and adapt to the changes that's bad.