An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
I can’t remember how it all started. I think it started in grade one. Call it Mother’s Separation anxiety, but I remember being very sad when I sent my oldest child off to full time school. I missed her desperately during the day, and then again in grade two I continued to feel the same way. All year I had this discomfort about the sort of things she would unintentionally bring home. These things would come home in the form of dirty songs, silly phrases, bad words, unkind behaviour, and lastly unwelcome head knowledge that a seven year old girl shouldn’t be aware of yet. These are the things that led me on my journey to homeschool.
I remember the final day she attended school. It was the day before March break and I watched her trudge out to the bus which would arrive outside of our house, dressed in the full snowsuit get up. She looked so small and little to me when she quickly barged through the back door, exasperated that the latch on the back gate had frozen shut. The two of us ran out to the gate to get it unstuck, me in a housecoat, she pulling her backpack behind her. As I watched her run toward the school bus, I immediately wished the gate had stayed frozen just a little longer so that I could hang out with her there in the cold for just another minute.
That day when she arrived home, I felt better. I felt better because I knew that her bulging backpack was full of her school supplies, inside shoes and all of the other little tid bits that were part of her life inside of the classroom. Now her classroom was home, and I would be her teacher.
Originally when we started schooling it was nearing the end of the school year, and therefore we didn’t qualify for any funding in Alberta whatsoever, so all of the expenses that need to be spent to do the initial start-up, had to come straight from our pocket. Thankfully it was tax time and the expenses for the math book, the English and literature curriculum and some extras for myself and my younger preschool children came to around 600 dollars total. I imagine Avery’s portion of the cost was around 300. We were also blessed to have a lovely woman in Spruce Grove who operated a used homeschool store out of her home and she helped us out tremendously while choosing curriculum.
In the beginning I noticed how my daughter liked to work around the clock. She noticed when it was 10 am, because that was her old “snack time/recess time” at school, and she made it very evident to me that she was ready for lunch right at 12 o’clock! Timeliness was so normal and routine for her that it was difficult for me to adjust. I will be the first to admit that I struggle in the area of time management.
Initially we began by breaking this habit, albeit it wasn’t really a bad habit at all, but rather it just didn’t work for us as a family. This began by figuring out how to start our own new routine and new habits. After careful reading and research, I began to notice how a lot of homeschool families began their day with chores, so that is what I began to do. I made “Chore packs” out of laminated picture cards, hung them on a key ring and she and her brother began each morning with doing chores independently according to their card packs. The little girls of course just tagged along with me and did what I did. Afterwards, we would all sit around and have breakfast together. Following chores, and breakfast we would begin our homeschool day.
I won’t mention too much about what curriculum we chose, other than we decided on easy workbooks in the beginning. Nothing too full of extra planning and extra booklets because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. The other children would play in the playroom while I did one on one work with Avery in the kitchen, and somewhere around 1130 we would break and have lunch. If anything were left over for our daily learning outcomes, we would wrap up after lunch, just in time for quiet time and naps.
Now fast forward a few years, and here we are again, except now it is three children instead of one. This year has been a challenge for me. I am not used to schooling multiple children, and I am regretting the idea of accepting government funding to aide me in my homeschooling. It adds to the pressure to complete tasks for sure, and not in a good way. I will also be the first to admit that I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, however it’s still enjoyable, just less organized.
From the first day I started homeschooling, to now, I would say that it has been a very flexible and enjoyable blessing for our family. We are able to enjoy quality time together and to really forge and strengthen our bonds as family members. I used to be so worried about being able to effectively train my children and through this experience I have been able to do a lot of training and teaching. I also recall feeling immense fear about pulling my daughter out of public school. I almost viewed public school as an authority over me and that if I were to take my child out that somehow I was doing something bad, and I harboured feelings of guilt. I had convinced myself that my children needed to be socialized and that the only way for them to develop effective communication skills and playground mindset was to immerse them in it and hope they survived. It occurred to me that if I wanted my children to learn how to behave well, and to respect other people and handle themselves appropriately, then who better to teach them those skills than me? After all, I am their mother, and I know them each individually like no one else, for now anyways. As far as playground antics, I’m not certain it’s necessary to subject a child to the possibility of being bullied, or to give them opportunity to become the bully when I am not around to correct that behaviour how I see fit.
And lastly, I do not wish to plant the idea that public schools are the worst possible choice. For some families they work wonderfully! And the children thrive and do well, and turn out just fine. Or perhaps it is not an option to be able to homeschool for a variety of reasons and that is okay too. The Bible tells us that we should train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. This is so vital and important to remember, because ultimately capturing the child’s heart for the Lord starts at home and through us the parents. We are the models for Christ, and we are the teachers no matter if we do it on a homeschool basis, or if our children are out of our homes for 6 hours a day. When it really boils down to it, teaching our children biblical principles and shining light on Jesus Christ, we must ourselves be growing in our faith. Learning and living The Word go hand in hand. We cannot expect our children to follow and keep the faith if we are not doing all that we can to show them the way.
Please be sure to click the links in the post, they will direct you to some great resources to get started.