Education has always been important to our family. When our son turned 3, my husband and I began the process of finding the best preschool. We chose a wonderful local learning center. Three mornings a week, we would drive from our home in the mountains to town.
Our son loved school. I missed him, but with an infant at home, I enjoyed the break. A couple of years later, it was time for kindergarten. After praying, we decided to send our son to our church’s school. I was like every momma that first day of school: proud, yet sad. We continued our tradition of taking a picture in front of the house. “I’m going to school!” he proudly told me. He was so excited. As I drove away from saying good-bye, I tried to ignore the pain in my heart.
Through a series of events, in 2006 my son and daughter attended public school for the first time. I worried. I prayed. I cried. But every morning I walked them to the bus stop and waved as they drove away on the yellow bus. I kept telling myself that I was doing what was best for my children and their futures. I never thought I could provide a better education than the public school system.
When my youngest started kindergarten, I threw myself into being the best parent assistant I could be. I was a classroom helper. I volunteered for every event. I made a point to touch base with their teachers and the school office support staff. I was involved.
When the kids returned home, I was there for afternoon activities, hugs, kisses, and homework monitoring. I worried as my youngest would leave as a happy, bubbly child and return as an angry, exploding volcano. I began to lose confidence that I knew how to be a mother.
Still, every morning we walked up the hill and I waved good-bye as the yellow bus drove away with . . . my children. Then one day, life changed.
“Let’s sell everything, buy an RV, and hit the road.” I felt helpless sitting on the edge of the bed listening to my husband’s answer to our financial situation. “We are losing everything, and you want to sell what we have left and travel around the country?”
My brain was trying to grasp what was happening. I was certain that the man speaking was not my husband. In disbelief I found my mouth asking, “What would we do about school?”
What?! My husband just asked me to give up our entire life to become traveling nomads and I’m worried about school?
“You can homeschool.”
With those words, I became a homeschooler.
Once we decided to homeschool, the first thing I did was visit our local homeschool bookstore. Can I just tell you that letting a mom with ADD loose in a bookstore is not a good idea? Hours and hundreds of dollars later, I was ready to go! I knew one homeschool family and zero about homeschooling. Like everything I do, I jumped first and thought later.
Mercifully, God placed Angie from Petra School right in my path. She gently helped me change my viewpoint from “school at home” to “life learning.” Angie introduced me to Charlotte Mason and Unschooling. Finally, I found my homeschool style: Relaxed Homeschooling.
Our days are never the same here at Shiloh Homeschool. I wake up Charity, age 10, and Emma, age 12, about 8:30 a.m. While they eat breakfast and finish morning chores, I check emails and print any pages we need for the day. At 9:00 a.m. I wake up Ben, age 14. I use the 45 minutes it takes him to get ready to help Emma and Charity with their math assignment.
About 9:45 a.m., Ben comes down for breakfast and I prepare Emma and Charity for their independent learning. They are assigned to read one hour per day plus their literature selection. During this time, I work with Ben on algebra and go over his daily assignments. After algebra he is on his own unless he needs my help.
After reading, the girls sit down with me to work on English. For Monday they are assigned to complete one page of Daily Grams, complete a logic problem, and copy a verse for handwriting. We have a group lesson for writing and spelling. Then we break for lunch, a 45-minute stretch of free time.
After lunch we focus on science and art. Currently we are using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology. Our assignments include reading and narration, some notebook journaling, and experiments. Some days we only do what the lesson plan is, we’ll other days we’ll spend the next two to three hours up to our elbows in science. For art we draw, paint, and create. I really want my girls to love art before we delve into the who’s who of art. By 2:00 pm the girls are done and so am I. We clean up and I start on my work (I work two hours a day for our company). During this time the kids are allowed to play on the computer, ride their bikes, talk to friends, etc.
Jeff gets home by 6:00 pm and we eat dinner together. I ask each child to narrate something from that day’s reading assignment. Dad asks them questions about their day. We like to have each person say something they enjoyed about their day and something they didn’t enjoy about their day. Mealtimes can be simple, or they can become a full-blown theatrical event. Emma loves to serenade us with her latest song or British repertoire.
After dinner the kids have until 8:30 p.m. to play. At that point, it’s quiet time in their rooms. They can read, draw, create, or write. They have to have lights off and electronics off by 10:30 p.m.
Relaxed homeschooling has allowed our family to learn and grow as life demands. Because we are not rigid about when learning happens, it is no problem to have a math lesson at night. We have the flexibility to make quick changes as necessary. We are able to pack our RV, hit the road, and focus our lives around science and geography. We have freedom that we never thought possible before. Our lives changed, and we are thankful.
Copyright 2013, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.
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