After a peculiar spring, summertime is a warm welcome! For those families with school-age children, there are many questions and concerns about what will come this fall. After a “forced homeschool” you may now be considering the option of deciding to keep your kids at home and teaching them yourself. This can bring a sense of control in the midst of so many unknowns, but also a lot of anxiety about taking a new direction in your children’s education.
If you’re wondering what homeschooling your kids could be like, I invite you to take a glance into our world. While my kids are not your kids, I’m going to be honest with you about what the experience is like for our family.
The School Year
As you may have found out the last few months of the spring semester this year, having kidsat home 24/7 is not always pretty! It has got to be one of the hardest jobs out there. Figuring out how to get my five kids, from three-years-old to fourteen, to do their schoolwork, chores, eat meals, etc. is a mind-boggling challenge!! There are days when I manage to make pretty much everyone (including myself) burst into tears at some point.
Finding the Parenting Moments
With everyone in the family home most of the time, my kids have to learn to get along and work together. When things get chaotic, I often tell them, “It is more important to me that we learn to be joyful and peaceful in this moment, than for you to understand this or that concept.” By learning to be comfortable working through struggles as a family in a safe place, I hope it will only help us, in the long run, to get along well with others in various challenging situations. This is part of what education means to us.
There are those moments of sweet accomplishment, like when my six-year-old’s face lights up as he reads a whole book by himself, or when my nine-year-old can’t stop talking about the science lab he did that day. I love having the freedom to snuggle up on the couch with my all kids and read-aloud to them a chapter from our history book. Through one-on-one instruction at home, our parent-child relationships have been deepened and strengthened.
My creative and artistic daughters, ages 12 and 14, are usually trying to “catch up” in math, so they continue to do lessons in math all summer. This is another benefit of homeschooling: having the ability to tailor-fit each child’s education to their individual interests and needs. Of course, this may mean they are working above or below “grade level” at certain times in some subjects, but you have the ability to move at their pace, ensuring they master lessons before moving on.
And another one of the main reasons we started homeschooling was simple: no afterschool homework!! It’s so nice after working hard during the day with the kids, to be able to have time in the evenings as a family, without worrying about getting more schoolwork done.
I truly enjoy what I do each day, and a part of me is a bit sad to be done for the summer. But just a bit. A rewarding summer break is a must after working hard with my kids for nine long months. The break is just enough time to get us really excited to start a fresh, new year in the fall. Some homeschool families choose to do year-round school, but I stick to the traditional schedule. Of course, we take breaks that fit our needs throughout the year; a visit to out-of-town family, the occasional camping trip, etc. This flexibility in scheduling is a huge perk of teaching my kids at home.
Our Version of Summer School
Once summer hits, we set aside the textbooks for the most part, although I do encourage my kids to continue working in a few areas. Musical instrument practice and lessons are ongoing. We have a house full of instruments (violin/fiddle, piano, banjo, mandolin, and guitar) so it’s usually jamming around here! I try to keep the kids stocked with good quality literature all summer as well, fiction and nonfiction. Regular visits to the library keep them excited about reading.
Getting Creative With Learning
Summer is also a chance to enjoy some of the subjects we don’t always have time for during the school year; painting, art appreciation, nature studies and hikes, or various handicrafts. (This summer my husband has resolved to have the children study the history of jazz and baseball!)
Learning As A Family
I just love to relax with my daughters as we each work on some crochet or cross-stitch project. Or have an outdoor art class with all the kids in which we learn about a famous artist together, then try to create our own paintings in that style. We live in a small town with a county fair in the summer, so they get excited to enter their handicrafts in the “home arts” exhibits for cash prizes!! When we’re doing these types of activities together as a family (parents included), it doesn’t feel like “school” to them, but they definitely are learning and growing in the process.
It’s a huge responsibility to be the one deciding how my kids are educated. It can be overwhelming at times. But as their parents, who love them more than anyone else, my husband and I are grateful to have such a huge influence on our children during these growing up years. The lessons we teach day in and day out are not only academic but touch all areas of their young lives.