- July 19, 2013
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Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to home school your children? Well I’m pretty certain that I don’t! It’s not that I don’t love them to death, I just don’t want them to drive me there any sooner than I have to. Partly because there are four of them, and partly because I get enough of them when they’re home. The reality is that our family finances rely on me working full-time and therefore it’s not really an option. But every once in a while, I get this crazy idea and wonder what it would be like. I always think that I can teach them just as well as anyone else and have specific ideas of topics that I want to emphasize in their learning. During the summers I generally do ‘mommy camp’ (see our Playdate article Family Camp) and since I’m a teacher, I’m lucky that my schedule coincides with theirs. So, I was able to give this a try and the results of what I learned are below.
Within 30 minutes they all started to complain and became restless
I started off all gung ho and wanted to focus on reinforcing standard skill sets to keep them sharp for the school year. So, I prepared a scheduled list of reading, writing, and math assignments, which I planned to do five days a week (during the weekdays), from 8-9:30 in the morning. As planned, right after breakfast, we’d hit it pretty hard and I would sit with them around our dining room table as each attended to their assignments with their spiral notebook at hand. I sat with my five year old while my 12 year-old daughter helped keep the others on track after completing her work. Within 30 minutes they all started to complain and became restless. And since its summertime, I couldn’t blame them for wanting to get outdoors and be free. I’m a firm believer in structure, but you have to let kids unwind especially after being cooped up in a classroom during the school year. But I still wanted them to incorporate learning in their daily schedule and my goal was to make it both fun!
So, after breakfast was math, after lunch was writing skills, and then reading was soon after dinner
So as the summer progressed, I realized that the hour and a half in the morning wasn’t realistic. I don’t know how they do it in schools! But after 30 minutes my kids were done! I thought that maybe I was doing something wrong but instead of beating them into submission and tiring myself in the process, I eventually limited our formal learning time to three twenty minute sessions, which I spread throughout the day. It was my school and my students so I could do as I please. I decided to break it up and do it immediately after each of their meals. So, after breakfast was math, after lunch was writing skills, and then reading was soon after dinner. The topics always related to their interests or tied into our summer adventures, which made it more meaningful for them. Sometimes they’d start their assignments while finishing their meal, which wasn’t my preference but I decided to let that go. They were learning and I was happy. The timing was perfect as they were fed, well rested, learning in small spurts and motivated to finish their homework so they could get out and play. Besides, they were already sitting down at the table for a meal so introducing learning soon after seemed to be a natural progression. So far the schedule has been going well, though we skipped a few days here and there. I’ve been met with little resistance and they seem to think its just part of their meal where they get to discuss their summer experience. I may not be able to run an entire Homeschooling program but they’re definitely learning things that they probably wouldn’t cover in school. I’m sure that by the end of summer we’ll all have just enough of each other to be excited for them to start school again!