Unquantifiable Benefits of Homeschooling

At the beginning of every year, I start evaluating all things from last year to determine our course of action for this year.  It’s kind of like setting New Year’s Resolutions, except no one keeps those.  I like to go a bit deeper and try to journal out things I wanted to do but didn’t, things I AM doing that I no longer want to do, things that worked out well and things that didn’t.  Then I try to be a bit more intentional moving forward.

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Homeschooling is one of those things that I can slave away and need some coffee in the morning and wine at night to get through.  But then again, that has more to do with parenting and less to do with schooling.  Temper tantrums, disobedience, and eye rolling happens in seasons for every kid (and I have three!) and they would happen here or in public/private school.  They just wear on me more when we are home together.

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However, every year I also find very tangible benefits to homeschooling.  Some I can put down on paper or a chart.  Some I just can’t.  More often it’s the unquantifiable benefits that far outweigh them all and has us pursuing the same course.

We are getting ready to do assessments with their contact teacher at their charter school tomorrow.  I needed some quantifiable results from an outside source to see if the kids are doing as well as I think they are.  Even though I’m seeing it with my own eyes, I have a hard time believing my 8 year old with ADHD does multiple digit multiplication in his head.  As much as I watch him do it.  He’s a self proclaimed 3rd grader that is supposed to be in 2nd and I’m not sure he has memorized his time tables.

It also feels like all of the sudden the three of them took leaps forward when it comes to writing, grammar, and penmanship. I would pat myself on the back if I knew how I did it.  I had been frustrated for almost an entire calendar year and all of the sudden – Whoosh! As if by magic – it clicked and it’s happening.baking cookies

But if I’m completely honest, my 5 reasons to continue our homeschooling journey are:

1.- My kids aren’t fussing with each other nearly as much as they were last year!  They have awesome moments of playing together or working together and they have more moments of resolving conflict calmly and respectfully.  If you have a child diagnosed with ADHD, this is HUGE.  As in, knock on wood, walk away and cross your fingers HUGE.

2.- My kids are taking a step back and making wiser decisions about their friendships outside the home.  They are realizing that even though they can be friendly to everyone, not everyone is a good influence on them.  I don’t think there’s a curriculum that teaches this.  But I’ll take it.

3.- My kids are the most outward-thinking, compassionate beings I have ever seen.  I am frequently getting reports from other parents who thank me about something very kind and helpful my kids did… of which I had no idea.  And would never had known if the parent had not messaged me.  Not something I can take credit for either, except to say that I’m convinced learning and living from a position of rest helps them to be less self-centered.Bible Quiz

4.- My kids are overcoming bullying a lot more effectively.  Yes, homeschoolers get bullied.  Because homeschoolers are socialized.  They are “weird” and often their kindness gets mistaken for weakness.  While it’s never pleasant, we’ve been able to address and recover from every incident and I am thankful for that opportunity.

5.- My kids have not gotten sick in a long time.  I have missed annual appointments because I forget.  Nothing lasts more than a day.  No fevers.  No runny noses. YAY!

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I’m a firm believer in that if it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.  I’m seeing homeschooling working on all fronts.  So that’s how we plan to continue until changes need to be made.  With my husband returning to medical school there is a possibility that sometime in the future I will have to work full-time so he can attend school or do rotations full-time.  We will cross that bridge when we get there, but I’m praying for a way to continue on this course that has been  specifically charted out by God for us.

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Back to the grind…

The main thing on every homeschooling mom’s mind right now is, “How do I go back to it?” Whether it’s because of holidays, sick days, sad days, or the freshly fallen snow… it’s hard to transition from not doing anything really to any kind of focused progress.

Except for unschoolers. They’re cool like that. But I’m more the Charlotte Mason type.

I was struggling with some gnarly health issues that kept me laying down on the couch up until Christmas. Seeing this coming, I did something in December which I now consider brilliant:

I took my December calendar, and blocked off one day for every subject I do at home. We did language arts, science, history, and electives (Spanish, programming, art, ASL). Then I blocked off one day for every holiday activity the kids wanted to do: make crafts, homemade gifts, cookies, watching Christmas movies, and sledding.

And that was ALL WE DID. Every day that didn’t have an activity was a “free day” with some rules… When we did history we did history all day, between games and movies, and reading. When we did science we did that all day too. And then it got put away and pushed away.

For the record, we covered three weeks worth of science in one day, and learned from the French and Indian War to the Revolutionary War in History.

Our rule for “free days” was you needed to do 30 minutes of math practice and reading before you went to play. But I had gift-wrapped a book for each free day that we had scheduled. They were small readers that we got through in one day, taking turns reading aloud on the couch for about an hour. It was like opening a Christmas present of knowledge and imagination every day!

This helped prepare us for going back to school tremendously. Because the information was learned very effectively! And they made considerable progress that we can build on now.

For one thing, my 8 year old went from not really reading to reading books that have 14-20 chapters and loving it. And I can tell he’s reading because his writing and grammar have improved dramatically. It was a good break in the school year that wasn’t a waste of time; we rested AND moved forward.

You’re probably thinking, “That would’ve been a wonderful suggestion for DECEMBER, Maria. But now it’s January.” It would still work! Take January’s calendar and pick a day to review and prepare for each subject you teach. Block off a day to put away Christmas decorations (and make it fun! With hot drinks and music!). Block off a day to visit your local library or a play ground. Take one day to revisit the household chores and make adjustments if necessary.

Then make the rest of the days “free days”, that is, “interest-led” days. Let them have days to just craft, or read, or practice an instrument.

It’s a good idea in January to implement a few things daily regardless of what’s on the schedule; write a thank you note (or two) and work on five math problems. Simply because the skills necessary for writing and math have to be worked on regularly and consistently.

Then progressively work on replacing thank you cards with a full language arts lesson, and doing a full math lesson instead of just five problems… add the history and then the science. Build up on it so by the last week of January the family is back to full-speed ahead.

My kids are so comfortable with their language art and math lessons we are ready, by next week, to bring back history and science again. And all their regular activities (co-op, Choir) start up again too.

Pin this post for when life happens. Surgery, travel, family illness… Knowing there’s a way to ease off the workload and ease back into it without falling behind. It’s a perk of homeschooling, and it helps! I know what it’s like to feel pressure if days or weeks go by and “school hasn’t gotten done!” I only share this because it worked so well for my household, maybe I can inspire you to think outside the box… and come out victorious!

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year!

I have given up on the hope that I’ll sit by a computer three times a week, editing pinable photos and creating blog content to share… its time consuming. And while I enjoy it, 2017 showed me that I have a lot of hands-on to do with my kids this season of my life.

The kids are learning – REALLY learning – and it takes me a while to do everything. It takes me a full school day, but it isn’t a pushed schedule. It’s the projects, the questions, the read alouds… next thing you know it’s 4pm and I’m done.

My goals for 2017 changes a bit too. I finally feel on top of my health, and while I’m not 100% healed I can assume control and work on it. So it came back to the top of my priorities; to eat better, exercise and sleep well.

It’s not a “number on the scale” thing. It’s a life or death thing. Seeing my mom get diagnosed with breast cancer brought a new awareness in my life. The goal is longevity. It’s changing not only how I eat and whether I exercise but also the deodorant I use or the things I clean my house with. We are working our way towards mostly plant-based, completely toxin free living. To that end, I’m an H2O at Home Advisor, and I can’t overstate how much that has dramatically turned our lives around. But that’s for another blog post.

Conclusively, for the sake of my mental health I have made some changes too. We are no longer pursuing home ownership (I needed a break from that stress) and are happily renting a cute little apartment that has been a God-sent for our family. I’m trying not to add stressors to my life when I already have my handful of things going on: I’m still watching my mom fight breast cancer from afar, helping my husband go back to school this year, and still trying to improve my physical and mental health. I’m maxed out on projects or things to think about.

So where does that leave this blog? In a very primitive place, back in its origin. Writing for pleasure. For venting, for mental health purposes. Writing good news and writing to be encouraging. For an audience of 1 or 100.

What are you looking forward in 2018? Share below 👇🏼