Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Homeschool Post

 The Homeschool Series - Part 1

So, we are two years into this homeschool gig.  Lots of you have questions about how it all works, what we do, how we do it, and much more.  I thought, with our new school year beginning tomorrow, it would be a good time to get some of your questions answered through a series of posts.  Please know that I am happy to answer anything not answered here if you want to comment below or direct message me.  Here goes.  Let's start with the cuteness.

August 2013


First, if you don't know how our homeschool journey began, then you should start here.  That might help you with some of the things I refer to and talk about now.  I also want to say very strongly that this is my blog, my views, and a representation of me.  Please don't think you have to do something the way I do it, or that my way is the only way, or that I am Supermom.  We are about to get very real with each other.

Laying It Out There

When I made the decision to homeschool Olivia I was under duress (somewhat of a strong word but we will go with it).  I was in a new city, my husband was thousands of miles away, I had an eleven month old baby, and a house still full of packing boxes waiting to be unpacked.  I had meticulously planned and scoped out all of the schooling options for both Olivia and Addison, wavering Olivia into the "best" school.  We experienced a wonderful year of Kindergarten in Texas, so my radar was slightly relaxed for my personality.  This combination did not make for a smooth transition, for any of us, into this new lifestyle. 

The first year of homeschool was VERY hard.  Olivia is a social butterfly and went from being around 20 kids every day, all day long, to the sole student sitting in front of her Type A mother/teacher.  Our main struggles during the first year dealt with her adjustment to not having "friends" around.  I use that term loosely because she was not allowed any time to make a friend except for the short recess outside each day.  No, not even at lunch.  She also struggled during holidays knowing she was missing classroom parties and the extras that are associated with holidays at a school.  There were tears, many of them, in regards to loneliness.  We pulled her out in September of 2012 and the first homeschool field trip, that I could get us to, was scheduled for January 2013.  It was torture (the wait, not the field trip).  I will go further into co-ops and groups later.  That first field trip produced a light in her eyes.  Until that point she felt like the only homeschooled kid in the universe.  Suddenly she was surrounded by thirty or more of them.  There are times she still struggles in this area.  She has more quality time with children her age than she ever did before, but she can not see this yet.  

Perhaps you want to know what the struggles feel like for me?  Here it is.  I love my children more than anything and all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mom.  Let's just say I have fulfilled that dream...and then some.  In the thought process of pulling Olivia out of school I had grand visions of cute art projects, efficient use of time (no more car line wait...Amen?), a new refreshed and happy daughter, sing-a-longs, etc.  And then reality set in.  I was running one child to preschool three days a week, giving a 12 month old two naps a day, trying to teach my first grader with my 12 month old climbing on God only knew what, a husband still thousands of miles away, laundry that would not stop, dust a mile high, boxes still waiting to be unpacked, dishes that I was too tired to do always waiting in the sink the next morning.  The list goes on and on.  But, in the midst of all of that and the sinking feeling I felt everyday in those first few months I knew one thing.  I knew that my daughter was now loved, growing, healthy, learning, and thriving once again.  So, for all the tears I cried when it was HARD, I was so very thankful that we were able to give this to her.  Keeping it real - there are still days with tears because life gets better not easier.  I am doing my mom job plus my teacher job 24/7.  Obviously we know I have to be a mom 24/7 but this all consuming feeling takes over when you are THE teacher.  Everything turns into a learning opportunity, everything.  I constantly worry if I am teaching her everything she needs to know, am I good enough to do this job, am I smart enough to answer every question she asks.  You have never felt the insecurity you feel when it really sinks in that your precious child's future is truly in your hands.  That is an awesome responsibility. 

Two years in and I will tell you that I struggle most with my own selfishness. There are days I wake up and I do not want to do school.  I want to drop my kids off, swing through the Starbucks, roam the mall for a few hours, have lunch with my husband, and then some quiet reading before my kids get home.  I want to go into the grocery store solo and stare at the cookies without a kid asking for the free one.  I want to sew.  I want to clean my house and see it clean for at least thirty minutes.  Notice what all of these sentences start with?  I do.  And then I feel guilty for wanting those things.  I had two friends that I consulted with before embarking on this journey, both public school teachers, one turned stay at-home-mom and the other was/is homeschooling her daughter.  The latter told me very clearly that I would have to take time for me.  I heard her.  I can honestly tell you I never thought I would really feel that way.  I.was.wrong.  It is in these gut wrenching, I better not have another mishap today and it is only 10 a.m. moments that I turn to two people.  God and my husband.  God has to work on my inside (a lot) and my husband is my "rescuer".  There have been two times I have called him in a twit and he states the very obvious, "Just don't do school today then."  I listened both times.  Other times he walks in the door and I walk out.  The look on my face needs no explanation.  I have gotten much better at seeing when these breaks are needed and I schedule them with him.  At first I thought it should fall on the weekend, but sometimes you just gotta have that Target run on a Thursday.  Amen?  The absolute secret to the success of homeschool, without any doubt, is a support system.  I don't think anyone who does this would tell you different.  If you are thinking of doing this you MUST have a system in place.  If you are married, your husband/wife MUST be on board.  If you are single or working (I have met both) you must have a support system in place.  It will not work without the support because NEWS FLASH: YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL!  Trust me.  I have tried.  It is never pretty on the other side.

Will there be tears?  Yes.  Will you feel inadequate?  Yes.  Will you want to quit?  More then once.  Will you be the recipient of the best pay (unlimited hugs and kisses) anyone has ever gotten for a job?  Yes.  Will you wonder what you were thinking when you decided to do this?  Yes.  Will you rest better knowing what your child is learning from the books and the people they associate with? Yes.  Will you be tired?  YES.  Will they ever learn IT?  Yes.  Will it get ugly sometimes?  Yes.  Will you get laundry done...ever?  No.  Will you feel fulfilled?  Yes.  Will you feel smart enough?  Every day.  Will you be thankful that Starbucks has a drive-thru?  Yes.     

Homeschool Co-ops and Groups

I don't really know what to call this because there are so many forms of homeschool gatherings and they really all do mean something different.  When we first began I joined a local group called GCCHEA.  I chose this group due to its size and information availability in regards to Florida regulations.  I quickly learned that is was so large that there were cells broken down based on where you live.  Now, I could travel and go to other groups, but the idea seemed to be that you would want to know more people living near you.  Made sense.  The problem that I saw was that most people did not participate in the functions that the two leaders created.  I could not understand this.  This avenue was a total bust for us in terms of meeting friends for Olivia.  I was able to make some great acquaintances with a couple turning into friendships based on time we spent in our next endeavor.  Classical Conversations.  Oh how I wish I had that when I first pulled Olivia out.  Homeschool mom/teacher from above told me about this group when we first spoke.  I located a group in the next town over and went to an observation day in March 2013.  We will call it CC from here on out.  I knew, from the moment that they covered the learning philosophy, that this would be perfect for our family.  There is so much to say about CC that I will do a separate post to give my thoughts on this.  I will say this, I have nothing bad to say about this experience.  My children have learned far beyond what I thought was within their capabilities.  I found great women in CC who shared my same values, were open to new friendships, loved my children, encouraged me, and had a passion for their children's education like none I have ever witnessed before.  I can not stress enough that you need to find a group that fits your needs, your child's needs, and is made up of a group of people that are like you.  Don't be afraid to try out groups and quit, like I did.  Most of the time these groups will cost money, so be picky.


That is all for today.  Tomorrow I will talk about what our day looks like and Olivia's schedule.  I will also give you the low-down on our curriculum.  If you have any questions you want me to answer don't forget to post them in the comments section and I will answer all of them in the final post for the series, along with other most asked questions.

August 2013 - Allye (22 months), Olivia (7), Addison (4)

 Learn On,
The Homeschool Mama

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