Julie Lyles Carr: School Daze 101...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School Daze 101...

Yep, we homeschool.  I know, I know..how predictable with the 8 kids and all.  I didn't really start out to homeschool.  But as my oldest got more and more involved in dance and as we met more homeschool families, it began to feel not as odd and alien, but more like a fun adventure...and so here we are, 11 years later.  Wow.

I would love to be some bastion of incredible advice and theory and practicum...but I may be more of a well-intentioned compost pile of curriculum, systems and lofty aspirations--still lots of nutrients and good stuff, but not as elegant and attractive as in its original form.  I have learned some lessons along the way and am still amazed and humbled by the moms who get it all done and have it all organized and put on mascara EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  Makes a girl feel a little inadequate, ya know what I mean?

But perhaps in my experiments and foibles and successes and do-overs, you might find a tid-bit or two that helps you out or maybe helps you understand that weird homeschool family across the street.  So here's a little compilation to get us started:

1.  Homeschooling is not for everyone.  I don't care if your sister, sister-in-law, neighbor and Bible class teacher all homeschool--girl, know thyself.  Know yourself well enough to know if this could be a rewarding, stretching, challenging, exciting venture or if this will simply mean that you will have to up your meds.  Know thyself, don't apologize and don't look back.

2.  Homeschooling is crazy hard on your house and therefore your housekeeping.  Homeschooling means you're home...schooling.  Means you have little science experiments sitting on your kitchen counters.  Means books and crayons and tape and scissors and notebook paper create your tablescapes.  Means little people are in your house all .day. long.  Means you clean more than anyone you know...and no one can tell.  Just saying.

3.  You are not the sum of your unit study.  I went through a little identity crisis a while back.  I seemed to be running with a group of homeschoolers who were the most resourceful, crafty, organized, driven group ever...and they all did unit studies.  I love the idea of unit studies, I have engaged in unit studies, I have purchased unit studies, I philosophically agree with unit studies...and my life the last couple of years has not lent itself to the unit study lifestyle.  People would say, "What unit study curriculum are you using?" and I would hang my head like a Bisquik user at a pastry chef conference... "I'm...um....actually using this pre-printed workbook curriculum thingy...(gasp)."  But you know what?  Anyone who moves four times and keeps houses out of state staged and ready to show and then has to evacuate for hurricanes and then gets pregnant with twins and then is on partial bedrest and then moves five weeks before having twins and then has the twins and doesn't sleep for 15 months...well, you'd be using pre-printed workbooks too.  And then you would learn that the kids still...shock...learn.  Good to know.

4.  Homeschooling is a day-by-day endeavor.  Live in the day.  Celebrate the success of one correct spelling word.  Enjoy the well-formed cursive letter.  Don't let the Ghost of Future Lesson Planning rattle your chains.  Learning is a step-by-step-by-step process, for student and teacher.  It's not a bullet train...it's more like a little rickety red buggy drawn by slightly hesitant little mules called your students.

5.  Make peace with the fact that God gave you your kids.  He equipped you for your kids.  Your kids might not necessarily do better homeschooling simply because your neighbors do.  Your neighbors' kids might not necessarily do better at public school just because yours are doing well there.  Release the ill-informed notion that there is one system, one choice, one curriculum that will work for all.  It ain't so.  Work out your own educational choices with fear and trembling...and then enjoy the ride.

6.  Don't be afraid to ask your homeschooling friends, your public school friends, your private school friends, your charter school friends, your co-op friends what tips and tricks and tid-bits they've picked up along the way.  I've been so blessed by hearing about the little science project Johnny Neighbor's amazing public school teacher cooked up...and Johnny Neighbor's reading scores took off when I showed his mom the reading curriculum I use.  There's no need for any of the groups to feel threatened or inadequate--all of us are trying to do our best by our kids.  And that creates powerful synergy.

I'll be posting my school schedule and chore lists in the next few days.  And if you walk away feeling inadequate, then I've failed.  What I long to communicate is empowerment, that any parent called to homeschool can be equipped to do so.  That any parent who wants to take on the challenge can rise to the challenge.  And that any parent who is called to another educational option is equally equipped to guide their child through that situation.  Empowerment, my friends.  That is the goal.

2 of 8, multiplying and dividing and figurin' and algebra-ing.....

4 and 5of 8, in a photographically staged moment of deep concentration....

Studyin' with 'tude...

4 of 8--

One of my many school cabinets...oh, wait...this hot mess can't possibly be MY cabinet...

THERE, now there is my cabinet...it always looks this organized and neat.  Every day.  All the time...

And what do we do with the twins, you ask?  Well, there's the cooperative one...

And then there's this one...
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