homeschool philosophies (part 2)

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To continue on with what I was saying, I’m starting to wonder, that if I keep with my goal of the kids keeping up, I might actually end up holding us back.  I have no regrets with how we’ve done things, but as I evaluate the past and look ahead to the future, I feel ready to move in us a different direction.

I want to pour over books and unit studies on states.  I want more class discussion and less class distraction (the LEGOS are everywhere).  I want to take our read-alouds to new and higher levels, incorporating oral and written narrations as a given.  I want to sweat through the complicated work of communicating.

What makes homeschooling so incredibly attractive to me is the great flexibility we have in what we can learn and all the ways we can learn it.  So much of my school life I cannot remember.  Once I got into junior high and high school, school was just the hoop you needed to jump through in order to get to the social experiences.  I put forth minimal effort into learning, retaining, or applying myself to giving back the gifts offered.

In many ways it feels like I’ve been given back the time.  I’ve been given another chance at learning.   Mere Motherhood, a memoir I read by a homeschooling mother of thirty-plus years put it this way which I thought was absolutely perfect, “Joseph Pieper tells us that leisure is the basis of culture.  Most homeschool moms would laugh at the idea of leisure, but that is essentially the gift homeschooling gave us–the leisure to learn”.

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homeschool philosophies

We’re wrapping up our 2017-2018 school year.  We’ve all reached that point where we’re ready to be done, not in a negative sense, but more because the sun is shining, the grass is green, and the fresh morning energy begs to be channeled toward something else.

I’m happy with how the year went.  I’m naming this school year “the year of the lake” because of how much time we spent on the ice.  It was absolutely amazing to watch the lake transform throughout the winter, from frozen solid, to still thick enough to walk on, to weak and unworthy of trust.  I had no idea how many forms water could take, or how a lake groans beneath the surface when the winter doesn’t let him make a move.

My biggest frustration has been the waiting in the slowness.  We have not been able to keep up the pace I imagined us keeping.  It’s not that we haven’t been learning, or that we haven’t been day after day having school.   We have.  But certain things like reading and memorizing of multiplication facts, which I happen to believe are extremely important and useful for life, are not happening at the speed I had hoped.

When I started homeschooling, I was aware this might happen, but things start to feel different when something goes from a likely possibility that I feel totally fine with in theory–to an actual reality.  I am not typically one to compare my kids to other children.  But now that their six-year old cousin can read (the daughter of two Lutheran school teachers), and my homeschooled seven-year old boy is not at her level, I have started to question the way I’ve been traveling.  If I was to hold up my kids to the academic standard for their appropriate grade levels, four out of five would be falling behind.

They say the biggest mistake homeschool newbies make is trying to make school happen the way it happened for you (in my case, public school).  You often hear the phrase, “The goal of homeschooling is not to recreate public school at home”.  I totally get that, and for the most part, I agree with that.  I, however, have wanted, at least in part, to keep that familiar school/classroom experience my oldest children knew and thrived in during their years of Lutheran grade school.  I have actually wanted to walk as closely as possible to the present-day culture and various methods of education, as well as wanted to keep my children “up-to-date” by keeping up with the workbooks and grade levels.

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As time goes on, however, I’m finding it harder to do it this way.  I am itching to be able to cover more ground.  I have an entire bookshelf of resources, most of them gifted to me, just waiting to be used.  And yet, at the same time, I am happy with the pace we are keeping.  Experienced homeschool moms warned me about this.  They said that I would struggle with doubts.  I felt very confident when starting out, not in the sense that I felt like I knew what I was doing, but confident in the fact that homeschooling was right for this moment in time.   I still feel that it is right, and it has been working, but I’m thinking next year is the year I’m going to have to commit to my visions and take more risks.

I’m gonna have to be okay with being different.