If you’ve been here before, you may remember that we started homeschooling preschool the year before last. And then at the beginning of this last school year, I told you about how we were planning goals for our homeschooling year. So why didn’t I blog about homeschooling?
The truth may shock you. Because the truth is that we didn’t do much that I could blog about. Last year was a tough one for me, and I felt tired. Drained. Exhausted. I know there are people with way worse times than me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I just had a rough time with 3 little ones. Most days I just didn’t feel like doing school work. I used to do a lot of crafts when there were just 2 little ones. We did science experiments. We grew things. We had fun.
But then… I got tired. And I found that the more I thought of it, the less I want to do homeschooling in the traditional way.
I don’t want to be at the mercy of our curriculum– of our plan. When the day is beautiful and my husband is off of work, I want to take the kids hiking or bike riding– I don’t want to stay home so my kids can sit at a desk all day. When the snow is fresh and the sun is shining, I want to take the kids skiing.
I have to share a little experience that happened early this year at the local ski lodge. I was sitting at the ski lodge with my 2 youngest while Miss Magoo was out skiing with Dad. A lady came in and asked if we were with a local school and I said no. Then she said, “Oh, are you homeschooling?” (Which is funny, since the 2 with me are too small for homeschooling… so why did she think that?) She then asked me about the kids, how long we’ve been homeschooling, etc. and said that she homeschooled until her kids were in middle school.
Then she got to my least favorite homeschooling question: What curriculum are you using?
My standard response up until then was that Miss Magoo actually missed the deadline for kindergarten, so because if she had been in public school she still wouldn’t have started we were waiting another year to pick out curriculum. (And I had no idea what curriculum we would use, because I didn’t really love any of it!)
And then she said the most freeing words anyone in the homeschooling community had said to me so far. “You know, you don’t have to use curriculum.” It was like a breath of fresh air. It was like a lightbulb turned on. I don’t have to use curriculum?
She told me about how she used a more Thomas Jefferson approach to homeschooling, and used very little curriculum. And the more she told me, the more I knew that this was what I had been searching for!
Due to the people around me, I was thinking I needed to replicate public school in our home. But she was freeing me from that, and reminding me that the reason I was keeping my kids home was to teach them what they want to learn, how they need to learn.
It took me a few months to really mull this all over and figure out what our homeschool will look like instead, but I finally felt the sense of dread lift and a sense of excitement return.
And you know what? Now that I’m not feeling so stressed and confined in homeschooling, I find that I’m excited about doing the craft projects, the science experiments, the learning again.
It’s not to say that through this whole time period my kids haven’t been learning. Miss Magoo is devouring books, writing cards to everyone she knows, and learning a lot about time and money. Little Man is currently doing less learning of the core subjects and more learning of tools and how they work, which is fine with me since it’s obviously the way he is wired. He has recently been showing an interest in learning to read, so I will be using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again with him, since I was so impressed by how well it worked with Miss Magoo (to read more about that, check out this post).
And this fall, we decided to join Classical Conversations, as it seemed to really connect with my ideals in homeschooling, and just felt like the right fit. And so far, we are just loving it! The kids are learning so many things, but they are learning them in ways that are fun, and that don’t take all day. We typically spend 15-20 minutes at the kitchen table each day working on it. There is still a lot of free play time at our house, and I think that’s a very important part of their learning.
So there will likely be more homeschooling posts coming now that things are starting to feel easier again. But when there are times that there aren’t any posts about homeschooling, know that it’s because we are playing, and hiking, and running around, and tinkering with small engines, and baking, and learning in ways other than the norm!
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