While I call this our first official year of homeschooling, it's actually our fourth.
We started preschool with Josie with she was a month shy of 3. I pushed her too hard, made a big deal over letters and numbers. I was inexperienced and determined to have her "on track."
This mindset lead us to some frustrating days. I hate to think about the stress I caused her or the missed opportunities to just play with her.
I've chilled out in a major way since then.
Case and point, Gabe has only had a handful of Sit At The Table type lessons and I'm totally cool with that. I've learned that, at least for my kids, the knowledge comes whether I cram it down his 3.75 year old throat or let it come naturally.
It took me months to teach Josie all her colors. Gabe? It took a seven minute conversation and a box of crayons.
Over the past few years, my opinions on schooling young kids have evolved and shifted.
I still see the importance in book work. We knock out the 3 R's daily and I'm a pusher of good spelling, art, and science. But my goal is not to create a school in my house. I've learned to find ways to teach them without having to formally teach them. There's a lot of art and stories and free time in the woods. I'd dare to say our best lessons have come from walking around the yard together.
I want my kids to continuously be moving forward with their education but I refuse to compare them to other kids their age. Because there's more to education then adding and memorizing the parts of speech. I want them to be good communicators and to love learning new things.
I fight against the urge to give my kids a grade level. Sure, Josie's age would say she's a first grader, but that doesn't take her actual person in to account. Her math skills are about a grade ahead of that, while her handwriting is a bit behind. If I am comparing her to what the state of Georgia says, she should be spending this month learning about living vs. non living and, wouldn't you know, we covered that two years ago.
It took me awhile, but I'm finally ok not giving a standard answer when people ask what grade she is in. I won't pidgeon hole her into what the public wants me to. She's thriving, learning, moving ahead every single day and that's good enough for me.
Homeschooling is teaching me so much about myself too.
Like that at 30 years old, I still care way too much what people think of me. That pride still bubbles too close to the surface about things that I really don't have much to do with. I compare and contrast and, man, do I ever have a lot left to learn. But it's ok. Learning all this about myself is the first step in changing it.
Homeschooling has become a way of life for our family.
It gives us a freedom to live our lives the way we see best that traditional schooling wouldn't. And I am continuously thankful for that. Between Andrew's difficult work schedule and our tendency to pick up and go when the mood strikes, it's been a blessing to not have to think of absences.
Chilling out and setting my preconceived notions to the side has made this our best year of school yet.
We are all enjoying it.
While not all our days are sunshine and butterflies, all of our days do contain those things. I'm getting to watch them learn in a relaxed setting and it's blowing my mind. We've accomplished more in the past two months than I ever intended. And to top it all off, we are learning each other. What one child excels at, what we need to work on, it's all plain to see now that I've quit pushing so hard.
We'll get to the rest of it, when they are ready.
And not a minute before.