Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Looking Back

Tonight, I am sitting here contemplating the fact that tomorrow is Connor's last first day of school in our homeschool.  Tomorrow, Connor starts his Senior year in High School.  I couldn't be more proud of the young man he has become.  He is articulate, kind, scary smart, loving, dryly funny, wise and a well grounded Godly young man.  Looking back, I am so grateful for the 12 years that I have had the privilege of not only being his Mom, but his teacher.  I can also see what we have done really right and the things we have done that, in hindsight, we could have done better.

Things that we could have done better in our homeschooling journey -

1.  Too much book/workbook academics and not enough learning through play.  I learned this lesson later with Connor so the twins had a much more fun and enjoyable beginning.  I had to learn that more isn't better, it is just more.  I think we can teach through play in those young years and it teaches  much more effectively than a formal curriculum in those early years.

2.  Don't compare.  Shakespeare says, " Comparisons are odious" and I think it is true.  I can't compare kid against kid or my homeschool against someone else's.

3.  Slowly ramp up academics in late elementary.  Poor Connor had a REALLY hard transition to middle school because I moved from elementary to middle school in one giant leap.  A more gradual transition into independence and starting to ramp up academics in 5th and 6th grade has been far more successful for the twins.  We did the same for high school for the twins.  Even though they are going into 8th grade, they are taking several high school courses to more gradually ramp up.

4. Grades do not define my children.  Scores on Standardized tests do not and should not define who my children are.  A low test score does not mean that they are not intelligent.  It does not show who they are and what they are worth. I learned this the hard way with Caileigh, and spent several years showing her that I could see her for who she is and not for how she did in school.  Caileigh really began to shine academically in Middle School and I had to learn not let her scores define her worth or my job as her teacher in her earlier year.

5.  It is not about me.  Oh, how I have struggled with this one.  What my children achieve or do not achieve is not about me.  Their personal style is not a reflection of me.  Their bad choices are not about me.  Once I could stop making it about me and taking it as a personal insult, I became a much more effective teacher and a better Mom.  I stay so much calmer and our home is far more peaceful once God broke my pride in this.

What we have done right -

1.  Insist that our children be friends.  In our home, if you are not kind to your siblings then you will lose the privilege of being with friends.  If we could not be loving to our family, then how could we be loving to others?  We practice kindness, service, courtesy in our home, first.  If you cannot practice those traits at home, then you lose the privilege in practicing them elsewhere.  Having a family learning model in school also helped immensely in this.  When you are all studying the same things in Bible and at least History, you create a commonality that allows your children to have things to play and chat about.

2. Insist that we do our school work with excellence and diligence. Not with perfection, but with excellence.  Sloppiness is not okay.  If we did something wrong, that's fine, but we keep doing it until we get it right.  We do not move on until we have gotten the concept.  If we got a math problem wrong, we correct it and then move on.  We also persevere until we get it right.  We don't give up, we don't give in, we don't fall apart.  We stop and look at it another way.  We research the problem, do whatever we need to do until we have figured it out.

3.  We have fun.  I learned this late but when I understood how powerful this way, I thoroughly embraced it.  Can we learn the same thing with a board game instead of a workbook? Don't just read about the food they ate, make it.  Make it fun and interesting and they will want to learn more.  Get Dad involved in this.  Scott is far better at this than I am, so I buy the game and he plays it.  Getting Dad involved in doing Science or building the castle or doing the feast makes it so much more fun and memorable.

4.  Give them time to develop their passions and then do whatever you can to support it.  I am the ultimate overachiever but one of the things we did do, was allow our children time.  Unscheduled free time while severely limiting screen time helped them develop interests and passions.  Have a kid interested in gardening?  Get them books, buy a small greenhouse, let them build a working aquaponics.  Don't let them be afraid of failure and just try.  That's how Connor got to speak in Barcelona, and again at MIT this summer.  We scheduled time for him to find his passion and then we helped him to relentlessly pursue it.  We have begun to buy fun physics books for Collin and Caileigh spends much of her time working outside with her garden and aquaponics system.

5.  Make God an integrated part of our home and school.  I have loved our curriculum which integrates Bible into all of our studies.  My kids learned to read by reading their own beginner  Bible.  The first coherent sentences they wrote were summaries of Bible stories.  They learned the names of Jesus and did science based on those names.  The more they understood the science the more they understood why Jesus was named that.  They learned that the Bible was history as well as the Word of God. Bible isn't a subject but woven through out day and life.

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  1. I love this so much, and you!!! Miss you! xoxo

  2. Thank you, I appreciated this. We're just starting our homeschooling journey and I think I'll read this post regularly! :)


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