Educationally Speaking: Homeschooling updates or why I have more gray hair now

Based on the title you might think my children are causing me stress during our homeschooling journey, but they are not.

I’m causing my own stress by worrying I’m not teaching them correctly and comparing our journey to the journey of other other students, homeschooling and otherwise.

Or at least this is what I had been doing for part of our school year but in the last month or so, something clicked and I realized my children are following their own educational path and that’s not only okay, but a good thing.

In addition, the students who are attending public school around us right now aren’t even receiving a consistent education with students being pulled in and out of the classroom and tossed onto virtual learning on a whim. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for public school students right now to figure out whether they are coming or going in their subjects.

I think some parents who do not homeschool their children, see homeschooling parents as being foolish, unqualified, and unable to provide their children an actual education. In some cases, this may be true, but in the majority of cases, a parent truly can provide a very well rounded, high quaility education for their children at home. One reason they can do this is because of the plethora of homeschooling and educational resources available to parents, students, and teachers in book form and online.

Another reason they can do this is because of all the support available within the homeschooling community. Homeschooling parents love to see other homeschooling parents succeed, no matter why a parent has decided to homeschool.

One thing I have had to overcome with the idea of schooling at home is my preconceived notion that children have to be sitting at a desk with school work for six hours at time to be properly educated . This really isn’t realistic and isn’t even how children are taught in public schools. In public schools there are breaks for recess and lunch and extracurricular activities, so a child isn’t strapped to a desk for such long periods, but somehow new homeschooling parents seem to think our children should be.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it isn’t traditional schooling, which means it doesn’t have to operate like traditional school.

I find that Little Miss (6) does much better with short spurts of learning and breaks in between for art, creating or playing. Since we are homeschooling, we have that luxury and flexibility to allow that for her.

She’s also learning a lot more with this style of education than I first realized.

During the beginning part of the school year, I really felt like I was failing her because she is behind on her reading, or at least I feel she is behind. On one particulary frustrating day I wanted to cry I was so frustrated. I gave up on reading for a bit. Instead, I handed her a paper about sea animals and said she could color the animals. The paper suggested the child look at how plants and animals rely on each other, but also how some animals rely on another animal to survive.

I explained this to her and she said, “Oh, you mean like this Oxpecker bird and the crocodile.”

I looked at her with wide eyes and waited to see what else she would say.

Without prompting she said, “So, the Oxpecker bird helps the crocodile because it cleans its teeth and the crocodile helps the Oxpecker because it gets fed. Symbiotic.”

“What’s symbiotic?”

“Their relationship. It’s symbiotic.”

Symbiotic? Whoa. Where had that word come from?

“Where did you hear that word?”

“Wild Kratts,” she announced.

If you don’t know, Wild Kratts is an animated show on PBS about wild animals. It is a shoot off of other shows with the Kratt brothers (Zomoomafoob, etc. ). The brothers travel the world (or at least pretend to) and encounter different animals and teach their young viewers about the animals. Wild Kratts presents them as animated characters who have joined with other characters to rescue various wildlife.

It wasn’t only that she had learned the word that startled me, but that she had retained the information, was able to repeat it clearly, and also remembered the rather large word to describe the relationship.

She moved on as she pointed to a fish on the page and slid her pencil across the paper to indicate it was related to the shark on the page.

“So this is a Remora fish,” she announced, pointing to the picture of the fish, which was not labeled. “Remoras hang on to the shark and when the shark kills something there will be little bits of food for the Remora to eat. It swims underneath this shark because it gets the pieces of food that drop from whatever the shark is eating. They have a symbiotic relationship. Their relationship is kind of different from the others. I mean, Remora is a fish and the shark is eating fish so it’s a little weird for him, but it still gives him a meal and it’s still a symbiotic relationship. It’s good for the environment. It’s how everyone survives.”

I just sat and stared at her and wanted to cry, this time from joy. Thirty minutes earlier I had been in tears because she was writing her “c” backward and blanked on identifying “s”, but here she was now defining symbiotic for me. And when she couldn’t figure out I wanted her to combine the sounds of letters together to create words? I was like “Oh my gosh. She probably has a learning disability.”

Mind you, this was the first week we were really focusing on blending sounds so why my mind went to her having a learning disability, I have no idea, other than I knew I’d have to research how to teach her differently if she did have a learning delay. I wanted to nip it in the bud early so she doesn’t struggle later.

I should have realized she is learning a lot more than I thought by how she speaks about activities or crafts, such as when she was making slime and was explaining to me, “You mix it until, well, you know, you get the right consistency.”

She couldn’t explain what consistency was with an official definition, but she knew that her slime had to be either thicker or thinner and knew that was somehow related to the word consistency.

My son was similar at her age. Reading letters wasn’t really his thing but his comprehension and verbal skills were way beyond his age. It’s the same now, which is why at 14 I have him reading books he probably wouldn’t be reading until 10th grade, at least at the public schools in our area.

Right now we are reading Lord of the Flies, which I think I read in 10th grade, but maybe 9th. I can’t remember.

In the first part of our school year we read Silas Marner by George Elliott, which isn’t really a book I hear about a lot of 14-year old boys reading.

We will read To Kill A Mockingbird in the last half of our school year.

In addition to reading and comprehension, I will be starting a new math program through The Good and the Beautiful with my daughter once it arrives in the mail. The program incoporates storytelling in teaching math and since Little Miss loves storytelling (making them up, reading and watching them) I think she will love this curriculum. I bought it on sale last week because they are going to be phasing it out for a new curriculum sometime this year.

We have also started a science program that I can use for both of the children. It offers an extension for my son to answer questions from for additional information from each lesson. It is also through The Good and the Beautiful.

For my son’s history, we continue to use Notgrass’s From Adam to Us and I continue to supplement with various videos, books, web sites, or activities. We also use resources they provide through their history site.

Two weeks ago I started adding open-book quizes to his History lessons by developing the questions and answers myself. I allow him to use his books to find the answers as I feel it will help to solidify the information for him. It means I have to sit and read every section I assign him and take about 30 to 45 minutes to develop the quiz, but I like the idea of getting even more out of the reading than he can simply by reading the section.

I am trying to add more to his schedule, but I am also trying to not stress if he either misses an assignment or we both forget to complete one. I have learned that homeschooling is a journey in education and the more relaxed we are about it, the better the kids and even I learn, because through homeschooling I am also learning more about the subjects they are studying.

I either forgot a lot of what I was taught in middle and high school or my school did a horrible job at teaching history especially.

I would like to add a government course to my son’s classes in the spring, but we will see if that happens or if we push that off until the fall. With all that is going on in the world I think it would be a good idea for him to know how our government is supposed to work instead of how it is working right now, which isn’t great.

I’m finding one of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to take the time to show my children what actual adults should act like and that bullying, while glorified now by Hollywood and all of the media, is not what we should be doing. In some ways I am sheltering them from this by keeping them in a home education environment versus a public one but in other ways I am exposing them to the cruelty of the world in a slower, less overwhelming and panic inducing fashion.

There are a lot more the kids are learning this year that I haven’t mentioned in this post, but I plan write about that in some separate posts in the next month or so.

Published by

Lisa R. Howeler

I'm a mom, a wife, a writer, a photographer, and a former journalist. I write a little bit about a lot of things here on my blog. I enjoy John Wayne and Cary Grant movies, Jan Karon's books, and I have an eclectic taste in music. Welcome to my blog and feel free to poke around. Fridays are Fiction Fridays, where I share a piece of fiction I'm working on. I'm also the author of three books with a fourth on the way.

11 thoughts on “Educationally Speaking: Homeschooling updates or why I have more gray hair now

  1. This is such a great post!! You have explained homeschooling perfectly. I love the flexibility, the way we can tailor lessons and learning to our children’s own needs and successes. And your story about Little Miss! What a wonderful moment!!! And I have to admit, we super love the Wild Kratts around here. Wyatt and I watch an episode together everyday as part of an afternoon quiet time (and I am the one who actually needs that quiet time) and I love it. Lol.

    It sounds like you are providing a fantastic experience for your children!

    Like

  2. Super encouraging post!! I need to do better at focusing on the things my homeschooler excels at and not worry so much where she falls short..spelling is not her forte which concerns me, any suggestions?

    I love that you mentioned in the comments that your son is into Minecraft, I’ll feel like my boy is obsessed BUT he creates some really amazing things along with my daughter …so there again it helps to focus on the positive side of things!

    Like

  3. I love the flexibility and adaptability of homeschooling. I, like you, worry a lot that I’m not doing enough, but every time I start stressing my husband reminds me that there is no one “right” way. He has to remind me several times every year, lol.

    Reading was an area I struggled with in the beginning especially, because I couldn’t seem to get the concepts across to my oldest no matter how I approached it. My husband assured me he’d be fine and to relax (I was an early reader at 4, so this concept of relaxing and not worrying was kind of foreign). It finally did click when my son was almost 9, and now he’s going on 13 and reads (and understands!) Jules Verne and Tolkien, more advanced astronomy/ mechanics books, and all the science books he can find.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got so frustrated today because I feel like I go over the concepts for sounding out words with her so many times but she just doesn’t seem to get it. I had to explain to her that I’m not frustrated with her but with me. I feel like I’m not teaching it right. But then on other days she reads the little books we have just fine. It seems to be the new sight words that are throwing her off and the thing is — we just started this curriculum last week so of course it will take her time to learn these words and sounds and how to connect the letters to make words.

      Hearing from other moms who have also struggled is so comforting to me and makes me feel like maybe I’m not messing it all up! Thank you so much for leaving a comment.

      Like

  4. If I didn’t love my son’s teachers so much, this is exactly why I would homeschool. I love the idea of tailoring education. My son is a lot like your daughter. He’s terrible with writing and spelling, but will start talking about some complex space thing that goes completely over my head. It’s amazing what young kids digest and understand while having trouble with the most basic building blocks. Every time I read one of your homeschooling posts I get a little bit closer to just doing it, too. There are so many programs that it doesn’t feel quite so daunting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was so overwhelmed when I started. I cried and cried because of all the options. I kept thinking I’d mess him up. But then I realized all the options were a good thing and it gave us even more opportunities for him to learn.

      That’s awesome that your son has such awesome teachers! That’s a blessing for sure.

      The flexibility of homeschooling and allowing my kids more time to explore their own interests while learning their basic subjects has been the best part of it so far.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really is all the options that have me hesitating, but I like your view on it all, especially since you’ve been there. It makes me feel a little calmer about the possibility of having to pull my son out of school at a moment’s notice since our governor really wants all schools to open next month, which worries me more than all the options.

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  5. I have the same fear that I’m not able to provide the right education for my daughter. Yet, she’s learning more hands-on real life stuff than she ever would in public school and I figure she’ll never be on Jeopardy so why does she need to know how big all the states are. We started out homeschooling at a desk and she hated it. So now she does school in her room and I keep feeling like she’s just not learning. But when she starts using all these big words and knowing things I don’t even know, I can’t help but feel super proud. 🙂 All we can do is our best and thank God we are blessed to be able to keep them out of public schools. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the thing with me too — I will think that they aren’t learning enough and then they come out with the biggest words or concepts and I think “okay — so she isn’t great on reading or writing right now but she’s definitely learning!”

      My son does his work in his room and this summer the neighbors gave him a desk which he can sit at for school work and to play Minecraft. He loves it. The stuff he does in Minecraft is insane. Tonight he was incorporating some program that builds mountains in it to make them look real and I didn’t even understand it but it was amazing. I’m trying to figure out what subject I can pop Minecraft into. I suggested art and computers and he said that might work.

      I do feel blessed to be able to homeschool him and I pray this is not an option taken away from us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always worry that our kids aren’t learning enough…but then I realize that my second grader is reading words I haven’t taught him yet, our oldest is making up crochet patterns in her head, our oldest son is building creative structures in real life and minecraft, our second oldest daughter is just like her sister in terms of reading level, and I breath a little easier and am trying to let it go. No, I will not be able to teach them everything I want to. I won’t even be able to teach them everything I probably should! But, they are learning and will continue to learn. We want them to find what they are passionate about and then go from there. There are so many things I learned as a kid, that I no longer remember…or need to remember. 🙂 We do our best, and the rest is in God’s hands. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to teach them what is really important in life. Loving those around you to the best of your ability (even on the days when it feels like that mission has been a complete fail, lol). God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My oldest loves Minecraft. The cities and things he had built with it are crazy!

      Thank you for the encouraging words and reminders.

      Yes, they are learning and continuing to learn and that’s what really matters. God bless you too. I’m so grateful to have you and other homeschool/strong Christian moms as support through this journey!

      Liked by 1 person

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