Finding Our Way

So tomorrow ends our first official week of homeschooling. While nothing has really changed, this has been a big emotional shift for me, and a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I’ve learned some important lessons about my son and about myself and about what is best for our family.
First, I’ve learned that boxed curriculum is not best for our family. Not even one component of a boxed curriculum such as the “Sing, Spell, Read and Write” program. It’s just not a good fit for H1. We’ll use parts of it – the music and maybe some of the games. But I don’t think we’re going to go through the lessons. It just doesn’t feel “authentic,” and he’s learning so much from life, that I’m going to let it go.

What this week has really been is a lesson in trusting myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype and feel like I’m supposed to do this or that – have a curriculum, teach him phonics, have a strict school time every day, etc., etc. I have to keep reminding myself why we’ve chosen to homeschool and what I know about how kids learn. I believe in embedded learning opportunities and teachable moments. I believe in the world as a classroom. I believe it is okay if a kid isn’t reading at age 5.
I also believe my kid is incredibly bright and I need to let go of the need to prove it by having him be able to read. Not all bright kids are early readers. In fact, many of them read much later than their peers. And so what? H1’s intelligence is not about me. My job is to be the best teacher I can for him.
But I am not really an unschooler at heart, either. I personally need some structure and accountability or I will basically ignore my kids all day unless they’re giving me no other choice. And that doesn’t feel good either. I want to enjoy my children. I want to live life with them. That’s one of the major reasons we want to homeschool. So I need something. Something to guide our interactions together.

I was talking with a fellow homeschooling mom today and she mentioned she was doing Five in a Row. This is a story book based curriculum. You read the same story for five days in a row and each day it provides an activity from a different subject area. I’ve looked into the curriculum before and it seems lovely. It feels warm. It feels real. It feels low pressure. I had dismissed it as too simple, but really, isn’t there beauty in simplicity? It feels better to have a spring board into other activities and interests than to feel locked into a boring curriculum that is frustrating and really just a way to pass the time.

It’s hard for me to explain, because it’s mostly just a feeling I have, but when I imagine days spent learning with my children, the images that make me smile are curling up on the couch with a book, or reading in the grass outside, or wandering through the wilderness together marveling at nature. Going through workbooks, playing phonics games, sitting at a table doing drill of any kind just doesn’t evoke warm fuzzies from me. I know it does for some people. I know some people are really turned on by a fresh workbook. And honestly, if I was teaching a different kid, I might be too. But I know that I cannot homeschool if every day is going to be a fight. If learning is going to be a fight, I’d rather my kid go fight with someone else and save the warm fuzzies for me.

So, at least for now, while they’re still so young, I’m scrapping the formal lessons in favor of some fun and trusting that the learning will continue to come as it has. I will keep listening for God’s whisperings in my heart as I raise the children he has entrusted to my care, and I will try to remember to ask for the graces of matrimony that are promised to us as we raise these children.

One Reply to “Finding Our Way”

  1. I just discovered your blog. It's so wonderful. This post in particular spoke to me since I also have a five year old and many of the same feelings. I wish I could stop feeling like education is a competition. Bohdin is more knowledgeable than Nyla. I feel like I need to push Bohdin sometimes because he is so much smarter. Nyla seems like she will be an average student and I feel much more relaxed about her education. I went from quiet time to four people converging on me in two minutes. I've lost my train of thought.

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