Reflections on Homeschooling

As many people do, I try hard to reevaluate where I’m at during these first few weeks in January. I don’t like to set resolutions, but I like to think hard about what I’ve accomplished, what I didn’t accomplish and where we go from here. I’m sure many of you are doing the same thing so I thought I’d share some thoughts.

The Importance of a “Big Picture” Mentality

It is so easy to focus on what we have not accomplished. Let’s see. . .with 5 kids under the age of 7 my house is almost never fully and completely clean. The laundry is always half done. I didn’t get to work on my daughter’s writing as much as I would’ve liked and I definitely don’t get to do enough school with Alex.

The last two years our house has been ruled by the invasion of the twins. The first year being the pregnancy which slows one down significantly. The second year of course, being the year they were born which consists mainly of sleeping, feeding, burping and changing. (Note that any reference to schooling has been deliberately left out.) And finally this past year which still is dominated by the twins. . .and us chasing them. . .and making sure that they can’t climb on this or that.

However, over the course of these three years all of my children have grown and learned tremendous amounts. It’s not all documented on their lesson plans and IHIPs. Lots of learning DID NOT take place by reading books. But as we live together and as my children watch me, they are learning. To mark this learning as less valuable than something that is in their lesson plans. . .would be foolish.

Learning Toys Are Over Rated

My house is full of toys. I mean FULL, FULL, FULL of toys. You know the little people sets? We have an entire little people village. It may soon turn into a city. We have legos. We have puzzles. We have books. We have polly pockets, and my little ponies, science toys, and art toys, and Klutz books. We should consider buying stock in Toys ‘R’ Us.

Not that we don’t love the toys and not that my kids don’t have great toys for learning too. But if you ask my kids what the best thing we did or got all year they start to talk about memberships.

The Hall of Science. The Botanical Gardens. The Bronx Zoo. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At first glance it may seem like we just like to go out, they just like to see things and while that is in part, true, when they start talking about the zoo for instance, you will hear hardly a word about animals. What you will hear is stories about when dad took us and did this, or mom was so funny when she did that. I have come to realize that while it is helpful for me to have things to “distract” my kids while I’m busy elsewhere. . .their idea of the ultimate ‘learning toy’ is time with my husband and I. To them, we are the coolest learning toys ever! (Now, should have I have them sign a statement on that to refer to for future reference during the teen years?)

Where We’re Going

I don’t know! I have a 2nd grader, a kindergartner, a preschooler, and two toddlers. While I’m not always sure where we’re going. . .I know that homeschooling has been an enriching experience for them. I have seen them blossom and develop talents, foster their curiosity and a love for learning, and generally enjoy school. This is the blessing that homeschooling has given to us.

May you too experience great joy amidst your trials in homeschooling. May you be granted a vision for the big picture. May you cherish the time you spend with your kids doing seemingly “nothing” (which really is the best learning time of all). And may you all have a very happy New Year!

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