Miriam-Webster defines “home school” as
to teach school subjects to one’s children at home
For some people this looks like taking a traditional classroom setting and simply recreating it at home. The desks, the chalkboard, the lesson books and work sheets all done just like they would be in a 4 walled school with 15-20 or more other children in a room
For others the concept of home school is allowing the children to take the lead on what they want to learn. A topic of interest leads to science experiments, history and geography lessons, and lots of trips to the local library to find any and all the information on that topic they can get their hands on.
And still for others there is some combination of the two styles all mish-mashed together into what they have decided works best for their family.
When I made the decision that we were really going to do this whole home school thing I had grand visions of super fun, super engaged, all hands on projects and science experiments. I had dreams of spending countless hours curled up on the couch with my kids playing on the floor nicely while I read aloud to them. And I had hopes of very little worksheets in sight. I just knew I wanted to be that home school mom that just knew their kids were learning things without having to see it written down on a sheet of paper or a test. I mean after all we were homeschooling so they would learn what they needed to know not what a test told them they should remember right?
In the same week I decided to be the ultimate home school mom I also made the decision to become the ultimate grad student. I applied and was accepted into a masters program at the same seminary my husband was a student. It was going to be great. I would take classes around his class schedule and when I wasn’t in class I would be home teaching my children and managing my house. Homework would happen in the evenings after a peaceful bedtime routine had the kids asleep right on time. (Have I mentioned that I might have spent a little too much time on Pinterest in those early days?)
WELL…here we are 5 years later and I will be the first to tell you NONE of my big dreams panned out. Like not even a little bit. Because you see, I forgot all about the fact that things like laundry and meals needed to be dealt with or the fact that at least one of us adult type people in the home needed to have some type of sustaining income so that we could live. So classes did take place around each other’s schedules as well as great friends who were willing to swap kiddo duty and the help of a wonderful Mother’s Day Out program offered on campus that allowed me to leave my kids AND all the curriculum I had painstakingly chosen for them to learn in the care of other capable hands while I did things like sit in classes, write papers, and eventually work the in that same center to generate my own income.
In the weeks that lead up to graduation I revisited those dreams of how I had visioned our home school journey to go and part of me REALLY wanted to make that happen. But the truth of the matter is we just still aren’t in that type of season. I am now working outside the home 4 and some times 5 days a week and Dusty is still in school. So this meant that if I was going to continue to be the one that gets to see that “ah ha” moments when my kiddos light bulbs go on then I was going to have to get creative. And I did just that. I made a decision that while a little unconventional
we will school 2 days a week in the late afternoon/early evening time. While the other 2 days will take place at the children’s center where I work.
Yep, thats right. While most kids are enjoying time watching television, playing with their toys or electronics, or maybe even spending time outside on Monday and Wednesday evenings my kids will be just beginning their daily school work. And you know what…IT WORKS. They have already had the opportunity all day to use up their play time. They got to be outside when the sun was shining (at least that is the hope), they had the opportunity to play with their toys all day long and when I get home I get the chance to make up for lost time with them while we get through the days lessons.
So what does “night school”, as my kids have taken to calling it, look like?
This is a little bit of what it looks like for us:
I generally get home from work between 4:30 and 5:15. As soon as I walk in the door they begin to clean off the table and make sure there is room for them to work. While they are doing that I am looking over the evenings menu and figuring out what needs to be done for meal prep.
As soon as the table is cleared off we begin our work. We usually try to begin with Bible because I feel like starting off there gets our minds on why we need to be learning. So we read the passage we are studying from the Bible and talk it through a little, the we read the extra lesson out of our book and practice our memory verse. Sometimes this means we recite it together, sometimes they copy it down, other times the will recite it to me one at a time.
Once we finish with Bible I get them started on one of the subjects they can do independently: Math or Language Arts. While the kids are working through that I am starting dinner cooking. Considering I have a meal rotation going and if the weekend goes the way I like it too most of the meal prep is already done so getting that going shouldn’t take too long. I am still there in the room to answer questions and help when needed. I am also usually chasing a hungry toddler at this point as well so that dad can be upstairs getting some work done while dinner is cooking.
Once they finish with the independent lessons we move on to geography and science. Some days this means we wait until dinner is over and then we finish the work to be done because there was too much to accomplish before we had to eat. Some times we get the opportunity to get through one of them before the meal is cooked. We read books together, we talk through what we read, and sometime there are activities that go along. And then there are times that I scrap what is in the lesson book and we learn about the subject mater via Netflix, Amazon, and the “Quest” channel on TV.
By the time we are ready to head for bed I feel confident knowing they have learned something of value on those two days. Is it what I dreamed of my home school journey looking like? No not really. But you know what I have learned. It is exactly what we needed. It is a very small window of the day and its all I have with them most days anymore. By making the decision to school with them in the evenings on those two days a week I have been given intentional time to focus on just them during a block of time I normally would have found myself vegging out on the couch or engrossed in something on television or social media.
So maybe our home school journey isn’t going to look like I have dreamed and envisioned. And maybe we are going to get to bed a little bit later than I planned each night. But just maybe, through it all my kids are still going to come out the other side, not only knowing the required information put out there by the “experts”, but also knowing that sometimes when you just KNOW the path you’re on is the right one it requires climbing through the maze one obstacle at a time in order to get to the other side and eventually OUTSIDE the box altogether before a solution to the problem can be found.