This year we decided to homeschool. I started having the desire to do it about two years ago when a dear friend of mine shared how she did it when her kids when they were younger and at home.
This quickly became something that I just could not stop thinking about. When I trace it all back to the beginning, I actually know exactly why I took this step. It started when my kids were little. I read the book THE IDLE PARENT where the author talks about raising kids simply. He also mentions that the ideal school system should consists of 3-4 parents hiring a teacher to educate their children from home. I fantasized of being able to do this once my kids would reach the elementary school age.
I studied Spanish Teaching in college. I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher as one of my professions. Growing up I would pretend play a lot. I would do gymnastics, acted like I was a famous singer, would do make up and dress up, and also pretended to be a teacher. When I took the classes in college I was excited, but for some reason I felt that the way I was being taught to teach was going to take away all the passion and creativity from me. There seemed to be just so many rules and regulations, that i would have not felt free and i woudl have been too nervous to ever do soemthing wrong in the classroom and end up being accused by some parent. I felt that I would have become just another boring teacher by the time I was done with the program. So I switched my major to Spanish only and finished off the degree.
I always knew I had a passion for teaching and I love my kids. As much as they drive me insane, I love to be with them and I never want them to grow up and leave. I know I am being ridiculous. I also want them to succeed and have a happy life and have their own families. But right now they are little, they are all mine, and I spend every waking hour pretty much doing things for them. When they started going to school I was happy, but I also missed them. I watched what they were learning and I noticed that there were gaps in their learning. I noticed that teachers at school couldn’t possibly focus more on my kids due to the size of the classrooms. I also noticed that what they were learning was fairly easy. I started researching blogs on homeschooling. I asked around. I tried to find online programs. I am all about keeping things simple and to the point so I knew what I needed for htem to learn without taking as long as a school day takes for them to learn the same things. I trusted myself to teach them, but I knew that unlike teachers, I did not have time for prep hours every day. So I knew I was in need of some sort of premade curriculum to give me some learning guidelines for their age group.
I spent the few weeks before school going back and forth about my decision, but I still felt inadequately prepared to confront the school year with my children at home. I didn’t have enough curriculum and I wasn’t sure how and what I was going to teach them. I also had a 3 year old busy toddler and an 8 month old new baby. I talked about it with a few friends and family members, and I almost did it, but I was feeling too much stress at the thought of doing it.
I had so many concerns. How would I make it fun for them? How would I correct their homework? How would I plan a lesson and teach tem. What would I need to give-up in my already busy life in order to do this? How could I make sure they still had a social life and beat the odds of what everyone thinks will happen to homeschooled children? How was I going to teach my kids a year worth of programs?
Sufficeth to say we probably needed that one extra year. I was able to talk to more people who had done it, gather better programs, and most importably gather up the courage to do it. Even my kids had a year to think about it. The summer before school had started they seemed still a little bit on the fence about being home taught. They talked about being worried that they would miss their friends at school and even their favorite teachers.
After this last year of school instead, once the summer came rolling around, they tried and talk me into it all the time. They were 100% convinced that they were done with school.
So at the end of the school year, I prepared the paperwork to sign through the Utah Educational System, and started researching as many workbooks as I could to figure out and what material would be the right one.
Luckily during this process I came across an even better program which is Called http://www.utahonline.com . This was like Christmas lights coming on. It was free, I was allowed to advance based on my kids learning pace, it came with a teacher as a support system, and came with access to many many programs that I would have had to pay for on my own otherwise.
My kids have always been a year ahead in math for example so I was happy that I could just enroll them on a Course higher than their regular school grade. I also had the opportunity to advance grades if we finish the program sooner.
I remember reading an article a few years ago about a mom who had her kids graduate from college by the age of 16. She had homeschooled them. I had no idea how she did it, but I’ll admit that I felt jealous of what she had accomplished. Never in a million years did I think I could even try and do it myself, but I secretly, I wished for it in my heart all the time. I also always noticed that while my kids grades weren’t perfect, they knew the concepts that they were taught and often times were bored in the classroom.
Now how did it all go? Well, the initial transition was really difficult. I was terrified of bot being up for the task. I thought I was going to fail and make my kids become ignorant and compleltey incapable of recuperating what they didn’t learn from me. This is how little I believe in my capabilities sometimes. I also was having a hard time keeping them from squirming in their chairs, getting distracted, constnatly trying to reach for a snack in hte pantry, or not listening to what i ask them to do like most kids tend to do to thier parents.
Even though things were difficult at first to get them adjusted to our new way of life, I remember loving the first few days that i finally had somehting htat made me feel that i was fulfilling my divine purpose and made me use my time to the best way possible. I noticed how for hte first time as a mom, time would go by so fast, and i would spend so much time being absorbed in doing thing with my kids, that i completely would forget about my troubles and life worries.
I liked seeing how many things we had missed that they were doing at school that i woudl not have approved of as a parent. And we all know that kids give hteir parents their worst, but i still knew that many thigns that they were not doing at home, they also were not doing when out and about. I finally had the chance to work on thier manners, and become better at personal hygiene I also got to teach them a lot more about personal boundaries and how to talk to other people. Communicational skills has been really important for me. We now get the chance to address manners all the time. We have been working on chores. We haveeven taken the kids to work with dad to learn how real life work is. I have enjoyed having more time to spend with them doing the things that mothers need to do for thier children to prepare them for being successful adults.
We now get to include cooking lessons as part of our routine, together with chores, cleaning, music and art.
I must say that it took a few months for them to learn the system and get on a good schedule, but things have gotten a lot easier.
What made it hard att first was spendig longer than school days getting them through the program. But now the kids have been able to adjust to the rhythm. They have learned to manage their time a bit better and the thing I love the most is that I get to be there to teach them.
I not only want to teach them academics, my dream is for them to learn how to cook, clean, manage their money, groom themselves a little bit better, put outfits togehter, read our scriptures and study the Gospel, take piano and music lessons, do advanced art, learn Italian, learn the history of the whole world, and mostly be taught how to be business people and from the best books out there that even some adults don’t read. I love the freedom we have had.
By no small means this came easily. But the little victories have slowly come. I am learning to do a reward system with gum for example rather their old classroom treasure box. I have found ways to compensate for all the activities from school. I still plan on doing back to school dinners, and crazy hair days and pajama day.