Thursday, September 4, 2008

BFS Assignment #100 - Oh What a Feeling!

Blogger Friend School Assignment for 9/1/08

Assignment: Take time this week to write about YOU and your feelings of trials and triumphs with homeschooling. Touch on when you first heard about the concept of home schooling and whether you tip-toed into the idea or just jumped in and never looked back. Share your schooling as a child and how you compare it to what your goals are for your children.

I am very excited to join this meme group!

I have touched before upon our journey into homeschooling in a previous post. I wrote:
We have been homeschooling since our oldest son, now 8, was 4. It was not planned to be a permanent plan at the time, nor did we refer to it as homeschooling, but after learning more about it, I was hooked on it! We have been doing it and loving it since! Originally we started because we could not afford traditional preschool, then it was because we didn’t want our children to attend the school we lived by at the time and couldn’t afford private school. Now it is because we believe this is the way God meant for our children to learn and grow closer in relationship to Him. I can’t imagine sending my children off to school for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to have a complete stranger teach them about life. I am selfish and I want my husband and I to be the strongest influence in their lives.

My trials with homeschooling have been many, but with prayer and perseverance, we have overcome many of them. The rest we are still working on! I would say my biggest trial is getting it all done. I have high expectations for our homeschool and there are many times we don't live up to those expectations. Another trial I face on a regular basis is finding creative ways to make our learning fun. I have incorporated a lot of hands on activities into our lessons such as lapbooks, notebooking, manipulatives and file folder games. We try to do at least one fun project a week to keep things interesting and give the boys something to look forward to. I also struggle with knowing what to do when one of the boys has trouble with something we are learning. I tend to research and read as much as I can to help them as much as possible with the things that are challenging for them.

As far as my biggest triumphs, I would have to say that recently, it has been my realization that I need to spend less time planning and keeping records and more time teaching. As I shared above, i struggle with getting it all done and I have for years. So the simple answer for me is to lessen my workload. I am also recruiting the children to help me more with everyday jobs so that I have more time to do those things I need to. Another of my biggest triumphs was when I realized I didn't have to use a "box curriculum". Just because I use a particular publisher for math, doesn't mean I have to buy all that publisher's subject material! I have since learned to use a very eclectic mix of materials and methods, taking what works for us and dumping the rest. I have definitely become a "tweaker". And I have taken it a step further this year and making my own interest led science units. We are really excited about it.

When I think about my school experience compared to that of my children's, it makes me glad that I am able to spend so much time with them. I am able to see their eyes light up when they "get it". I know, in detail, what their strengths and weaknesses are. I can tailor their learning experiences to their own unique learning styles and interests. I really loved school until about the 4th grade. For some reason it was then that my enthusiasm fizzled out. I refuse to let that happen for them. I will always make it a priority to make sure that they enjoy school and learning as much as possible! My goals for my children are very different from the goals the public school system sets. First and foremost, I want them to have a lifelong relationship with Jesus and I want that relationship to determine how they choose to live their lives. More than cramming them full of facts and figures, I desire to ingrain love for God, a love of learning, a love for books and the ability to stand up for their beliefs. I don't think any of these goals were set for me when I was in school many years ago, and I am sure things haven't changed now.

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