"Don't you have so much extra time now that your kids are in school?"
This was asked several times during that first month our kids attended the church's school two years ago. I think most of the people asking hoped to see relief from my apparent weariness. After all, it seemed logical that relinquishing the homeschool would free up some time, right? But the answer was always a laugh and a "no."
First of all, we were in the middle of moving our family from one place to another almost monthly. Our home was expanding and we had incredible opportunity to live in other people's homes, free of charge, for almost an entire year. With a family of seven and trying to keep everything clean and unbroken, it was also quite stressful. The baby and (for the first year before going into kindergarten) preschooler missed their siblings so much while they were in school. Family dynamics completely changed, and I think it was roughest on the younger two who were left behind. It might have only been two kids at home all day instead of five, but their needs didn't change.
A couple of the children thrived academically in school. One who needed a little positive peer pressure really excelled in new areas and it was incredible to see. One loved trying out a traditional school for the first time and did well. Another just didn't thrive in the school setting. The noise and atmosphere of a classroom was too much and concentrating on anything was almost impossible. Our younger one joined the school in kindergarten last year and absolutely loved her class, but I got several calls throughout the year saying that she was crying because she missed me. I watched our family dynamics change. Our kids had become so used to being with only their peers all day, that they almost forgot how to get along with their siblings. We had never encountered that problem so consistently before. By the end of that second school year, all four children asked to go back to homeschooling. I found my heart warming back up to the idea, too. We were finally moved into our home and the dust settled enough to where it felt feasible.
|Goofing off while reading history lessons to little sisters.|
While they finished up their year at school, I spent every spare minute preparing for their return to homeschool. I was desperate to do it well. The last year that we homeschooled wasn't excellent. We had outgrown our home and I was in a swirl of postpartum depression. I wanted the return home to be beautiful. After lots of research, we finally chose to invest in Sonlight curriculum. I was drawn to it in years past, but didn't have the funds for it at the time. Indulging in it this year, and signing the children up for sports and dance, was still less expensive than the school tuition we had been paying. The lack of text books and abundance of good literature chosen for the Sonlight curriculum really caught my eye. Their Instructor's Guides are also a massive perk. Lesson plans are already laid out and even scripted, and all I have to do is follow them.
Being eight weeks into the school year, I'm familiar enough with the program to know how to tailor it to our family. I have swapped out some of the older kids' readers for books on how to raise our new Anatolian Shepherd puppy. The older two and younger two are broken up into two different "cores", (convenience and togetherness all in one!) and each child has their own individual math and handwriting/spelling lessons for their specific level.
|Learning how some seeds (green beans, in this case) hitch rides to find more space for new plants.|
We also get the week's lessons done in four days to allow us a "Homestead Day" on Fridays. This started as an idea and ended up turing into a self-made curriculum. We all look forward to Homestead Day, and I can't wait to share more about it very soon.
Over the last eight weeks, I've watched sibling relationships naturally re-bond. Our child who struggled in school for two years has quickly caught back up to grade level. Those of us who hated school and struggled to retain lessons because of the boring textbooks are now reading ahead because the books are so interesting, and in turn attaining more of what's being read. The wild card toddler is actually so much more peaceful. I think just being around his siblings more, and watching them work on their lessons, has encouraged him to find things to engage in during school time. There's no denying that homeschooling requires a lot. I am definitely excited for bed at the end of the day, but seeing the fruit in just the few weeks we've returned to homeschool has made it so worthwhile.
The sun is almost up. My morning chores need to get underway and it's almost time to start this week's edition of Homestead Day. Happy weekend to you all, and so many blessings!