- My husband is a homeschool graduate and wants his kids to have a similar experience. HE LOVED IT and feels like he learned well how to learn and think through his homeschool education, more so than many people he went to college with that went to traditional schools. He’s lucky I agreed with him, as I felt like I never really learned how to study until I was in my 4th year of college!
- Medical consideration #1: We have one daughter with orthopedic issues that require doctor visits 5 hours away, along with 1-2 surgeries per year (on average; they started when she was 5 and will probably continue until she’s done growing, age 13 at the earliest prediction). The public school system actually ISN’T very friendly or accommodating to missing the amount of school required for all those appointments and procedures! Homeschool allows us to do what is recommended at the earliest possible time, instead of putting off surgeries and procedures until the next school break.
- Medical consideration #2: Erik has autism. His brain is unique that while he reads EXCELLENTLY, he has to work hard on COMPREHENSION. I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained to people that just because he can SAY the words doesn’t mean he has any idea what they mean. We can tailor his language arts to reading at his level while the comprehension/report back is also at his level (meaning 5-8 grade level reading, with pre-K to 1st level comprehension work). He also excels in math (except for story problems, which is a reflection on language comprehension more than the math skills themselves). By homeschooling he can continue at his own pace in math skills, and not be limited to grade level.
- Medical considerations #3: Kent has autism and ADHD (as detailed in a previous post). He jumps on a trampoline or spins in an office chair (or on the floor, or anywhere really) while listening to lessons. He does jumping jacks between written responses. Even then, the lessons are short, very short. We have breaks FREQUENTLY. Our day with him looks like recess with school thrown in once in a while instead of the opposite.
- Sleep schedules. We have a regular bedtime, so don’t think that’s it. But I have EARLY risers and night owls (I’m also a night owl by nature). Homeschooling allows me to work one-on-one with the early risers before the night owls get their brains working. Family subjects don’t start until around 9-10 am. They FINISH the school day for the early ones and start it for the others.
- General schedules. The national parks are MUCH more pleasant when most of the world is in school. I’m just being blunt there. Same with museums, zoos, parks… you get the idea. We live 2.5 hours from Old Faithful. There is SO MUCH to learn there, but honestly, we rarely learn anything on our summer trips because we’re a “novelty show” for tourists (“LOOK!!! They have 6 kids! They have TWINS!!!”) and the parks are SO crowded it’s hard to really hear anything at Ranger Talks and such. Also, recreation things like amusement parks, VRBOs (because hotel room for 8 is MUCH less affordable), and virtually everything is cheaper in the “off season”.
- I get to choose what my kids are learning. I want my kids to learn that scientific theories are theories. I want them to know all angles of the conversation when it comes to the origins of life, the universe, and really everything, so they can form their own opinions as they grow. I want them to question EVERYTHING (even when it annoys the crap out of me!) and know that there are times authority SHOULD be questioned! I want them to know WORLD history, not just Western Civilizations world history. I want them to learn the history of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe before the Roman conquest, etc., more than just the tracking of western civilization from Mesopotamia (touching a bit on Egypt too) into Europe AFTER the Romans conquered it, and only touching on areas as they were influenced by expansion. And I want them to see that science, history, math, and literature all intertwine. It’s ONLY in formal school settings that those are such delineated subjects!
- I get to choose evaluation methods. Traditional tests are NOT good indicators of learning. They just plain aren’t. Neither are worksheets for many kids. Or oral reports for others. As the homeschooling teacher, I get to choose what is best for each of my children individually to evaluate their progression.
- Administrivia (and stupidity of it all) in the public sector. I had someone tell me that I SHOULD send our oldest to Kindergarten when we first moved here, halfway through the year. When I explained our reasons not to, the response was (and I quote): “We could REALLY use her test scores to help our school.” Seriously. That was the final ABSOLUTELY NOT, end of discussion, for me. I will NEVER send my kids to that school, with administrators like that working there. Whether or not my child goes to that school should be based on MY child’s needs, not how my child will make your system look!
- Because it’s what’s right for our family. We are very religious, and pray LOTS about our wants and needs, and what is right for each of us individually and as a family. And homeschooling is something that we feel we have the blessing of God to continue. I actually do pray about it every year, and about each child individually as I do. If there comes a time that I DON’T feel at peace about homeschooling one or all of my children anymore, I will send them to school. But until then, THIS is really the whole reason we homeschool.
Thanks for joining me! So what do homeschooling, weaving, and life (especially large family life) have in common? NOTHING ever goes as planned, and if it does absolutely, it’s an amazing thing.
Here’s my homeschool story: When we were dating, my then boyfriend now husband said “I really want my kids to be homeschooled.” I ended up marrying him, and agreed on that informal condition. Except I had NO idea what that meant really for me! I knew I wanted to homeschool. I studied elementary education for long enough to know that I absolutely HATED the politics of the education system here in the US. I was also either always behind or always ahead, and usually bored, in my years growing up in the public education system. But I really didn’t know HOW to homeschool. My husband thought he did. He’s a homeschool graduate, having been homeschooled for all but 1st grade. We learned VERY quickly that there’s NOT a one-size-fits-all in homeschool. I do things differently than his mother (big surprise) and he was convinced her way was the only right way. It caused chaos in our home for a few years while I tried to do it her way and miserably failed, while when I did it my way we did relatively well but it caused stress in our marriage because I “wasn’t doing it the right way.” We’ve now worked through that stress (and yes, I do it my way, and now he sees that it’s working), but it’s pretty much been the course of life. NOTHING went according to my idealized view when our first child was born.
So what was that view? I thought I’d do school at home. You know, buy a nice boxed curriculum set, sit down at the table every day, work through assignments and worksheets, and be done. Everything neat and tidy! There’s even satellite school programs that you can register for (that cost a LOAD of money) that they send you all the materials, your child does the work, you mail it all back, and they do all the review, grading, and mail you accredited completion certificates at the end of the year. Yeah, that’s what I thought I’d do. Not a big surprise for most homeschoolers, that didn’t work AT ALL. Every day was spent with my oldest spending HOURS at the table, crying, because she hated doing her math worksheets and just wanted to read.
I couldn’t handle the stress, so I went searching. Caveat: the things I mention here work for MANY families, including traditional “school at home”. Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it for you! I learned about and tried Robinson Curriculum with her. That didn’t work for us. I learned about the Thomas Jefferson Education Leadership model of education. It was WAY too “unschool” for my husband, and really for me too. I had a hard time implementing all the “parts” and it really was a failure for us. Charlotte Mason didn’t speak to me AT ALL (as much as I love books, reading, copywork, and memorization for everything isn’t my style). The Waldorf method just confused me. Montessori school method was too messy and involved for our living situation (1200 sq ft apartment with 5 kids by the time I discovered that one). I discovered I always have been and probably always will be an eclectic homeschooler. And that’s just fine!
I view eclectic homeschooling much the same as weaving. You choose the warp, the foundation of your homeschool cloth. What’s most important? What are your priorities in homeschooling? What does THAT part look like? For me, I finally realized that what I wanted was a one room schoolhouse approach to education, where everyone could learn together. I also really wanted to have character development an integral part of our school. Yes, the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are also part of that foundation, but HOW those are achieved is more in the design of what threads go up and down than in the threads themselves.
After you choose the warp, then you need to decide your draft/threading order. That determines what threads move up and down together. And the nice thing is that it doesn’t have to stay the same the whole time. You can change it up mid-warp without ANY issues! I feel like this is the curriculum choices in homeschool. For me, that means the one room schoolhouse approach for conducive subjects (science, literature with family read-alouds for the books, social studies, and character development), with math and reading/spelling on individual levels.
Then there’s the weft. I think, especially having a big family, that is the individuals involved. Changing up the color of the weft (which child I’m working with, or if I’m working with them all at the same time) changes how the cloth looks and interacts. If they are having a tired, off day, it reminds me of the threads breaking (which does happen). And that’s part of life too!
And the last detail is the weaver. In this analogy, that’s me, the homeschool teacher. I have the foundation set up, I’ve chosen the curriculum (draft/pattern), and I’ve got the weft to work with. What order everything fits together, how quickly the cloth is formed, and how it all goes is VERY much dependent on me. If I do nothing, no matter how beautiful the warp, weft, and draft work together, I’ll never get any cloth. And if I try to push too hard and do too much I make stupid mistakes, requiring “unteaching” and redoing things that were done poorly in my push to get results.
So now the large family introduction. My husband and I have been married for 11 years (as of August 2018). We have 6 kids. Our oldest is 10. Then came the twins, who are now 7. Remember the “nothing going as planned”? Who actually EVER plans on spontaneous twins? After them, we got a surprise baby girl who was born before the twins turned 2. She’s now 5. Then two more boys, now ages 3 and 6 months. We also have a 2 year old lab/collie/shepherd mix puppy who is as hyper as that mix sounds. My husband is the director of our local library system (homeschoolers, YES, it’s almost as amazing as it sounds to have a librarian spouse). I stay home with the kids, doing school, household management, and medical management. I’ll leave the medical management for another post. Lets just say NOTHING here is as simple as it seems it should be. And I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to crafting, but I absolutely LOVE weaving! It’s complicated and simple, monotonous and exciting all at once. And isn’t that the way life should be?