Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How we teach...What we teach...

There are moments when I realize that homeschooling, unconsciously is a part of our entire days.

I've realized is that I talk to my kids through the day about what we're learning.  My friend Alene was a big encouragement to me in this because she was the one who pointed it out to me that I teach my children to play.  And when they hurt one another, I require them to say "I'm sorry" (for Eli it was a hug before he could talk) and for the other to say I forgive you.  I know that they didn't understand forgiveness at the time, but it helps them get in the habit of apologizing and eventually learning how to forgive and not hold things against each other.  I remember the time we drove by a cell phone tower and Autumn pointed it out to me.  We had just read about them in her science book and so she noticed it.  Teaching my children in all we do and explaining things to them that we are seeing and doing is helping them apply what they're learning even though we don't do as much hands on activity as a lot of families I know do.  

I didn't have a "love" of learning as a child, but I do desire it for my chidlren.  I was all about my grades growing up, in large part due to my father's pressure on me to be at the top of my class.  My pastor's wife Jenny has been a big encouragement to me as I strive to change my own thinking.  My children are actually teaching me to "love" learning because God has given them a great joy and enjoyment of things they learn.  I think this is a matter of the heart as well as taking time to enjoy the things they love learning about amidst the things they don't (that they still have to do because they're important).

I think to many people my curriculum may seem random because I am very eclectic, but if you see the purpose in each subject you choose and you've chosen it because it's right for you and your kids then I don't think it is.  Yet, there's also a right combination for our families that fits with the needs of our lives.  Sometimes the curriculums we would love to use simply aren't practical for us due to time and/or resources.

 Every year is different--different numbers of kids...different ages of kids...different circumstances in our lives...and we're different people!

One of the mistakes I made when Autumn was in Kindergarten and PK was not to get connected to other homeschooling families.  There weren't any at our church (all public or private school families).  My husband was very concerned that Autumn learn what she need to and he was also concerned that I would be able to be successful homeschooling--so what I felt from him was actually pressure that I turned in on myself.  (He's okay with me homeschooling now and believes in it, but there are certain things I do so that he knows we're covering everything we need to.)  I ended up feeling very isolated and didn't have anyone to help me gauge how I was doing and remind me I was doing what I needed to do--pressing on!  

At times, I can lose sight of my agenda and goals.  Talking with my homeschooling friends renews my vision and desire to press on, but it's still challenging.  This fall I started out strong, but then got to a place where I was just checking the boxes.  I have realized that it is my heart that God needs to work with--so I'm hoping He will do that this spring.  I need to be more disciplined about my time and training my own mind to cut out the distractions.  Maggie Jackson talks about this in Distracted (a secular book about the decline in our attention spans due to all the media and stimulation our brains encounter every day).  So, that's why I wrote my blog post back in January about goals.  I had planned to post them up in front of my computer and keep them in front of me.  I didn't do that.  But, I have kept pressing on through the spring.  As a family, we faced some challenges that required me to focus on getting through my days and doing less rather than more.  Pressing on through our curriculums was what I could handle.  

We're nearing the end of the year and I'm thankful.  Every time my daughter finishes one of her books she gets so excited.  There is a satisfaction in completing a book.  There is one of Autumn's books that we won't finish because we combined two programs.  She doesn't need to finish it because she's done enough work.  But, that is a lesson I'm learning myself.  For the most part, we press on to complete our books.  It was my weakness as a teacher in the classroom not to complete things and so following textbooks has helped me compensate for that.

I think there is a stereotype that children can't love learning if they're learning from textbooks.  But, I believe they can.  I know they also especially love activities as well, but I have watched as my daughters have grown to love what they learn as they read.  The balance for me is to ask enough of them so they are challenged, but not too much as to squelch that love.  I am learning to love learning with them in a way that I didn't when I was a child.

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