Just A Normal Family
We have been "homeschooling" since Julia was 6 months. By that I mean, we have taken it upon ourselves as parents to school our children in letters, numbers, sounds, reading, holidays, weather, you name it we try to expose our children to a number of different things since they were little. I can remember being up in the middle of the night doing late night feedings with Julia and watching the Your Baby Can Read commercials...I thought it was awesome how this particular dad wanted to teach his children how to read by memorizing sight words. I was hooked, and ordered the complete set for my 4 month old...we waited a few months, but soon we were watching the videos and practicing the songs, and finger plays, and reading the words with her. Wouldn't you know it? By the time she was 7 or 8 months she was already saying words. She has been by far our early chatter box. We also taught her how to baby sign, and from there it just spiraled.
You know how it is when you only have one kid and a lot of energy. You just start pouring into your child and introducing new things to them. The funny thing is I never called it homeschool. I was just a normal mommy teaching my baby how to speak. Then Mark came along and he just fit right along into our teaching time. We taught him baby sign when he was a few months old and so I had a two year old and a 6 month old signing please, thank you, more, milk, and eat! Julia was my biggest helper when it came to teaching Mark how to communicate.
I never ever thought of it as homeschooling my kids. I was just doing what all of us parents do. We say the same words over and over to our kids, we teach them good manners, we teach them respect, we give them chores and responsibility and we tell them "no" when they are not supposed to do something. Right? Doesn't everybody do that?
Then when Julia was 2 1/2 we started a different reading curriculum. I felt that Your Baby can read was great, but it wasn't teaching my daughter how to sound out words, and to teach someone how to read you need phonetic spelling and they need to know the basics of what sound each letter makes. I used How to Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 easy lessons. At that point I knew...hey, not everybody buys reading curriculum for their 2 year old. At that point I started reaching out to other moms at church, and that I knew who homeschooled for some advice. I asked them, "Am I crazy?" "Is this hard?" "What curriculum did you use?" "What worked for your kids?" I was then told about a huge homeschool connection group at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and joined their online group to stay connected with other families who did field trips together, and coops together. I knew if I was going to do this seriously I needed a support system.
Then, I just started going online and printing out craft ideas, lesson plans for pre-schoolers, and started buying tons of kid books to make school at home fun. I went to my first Homeschool convention in the Spring of 2010...Mark had just turned 1 and Julia was now 3. I started getting really excited for what God had for us as a family. I figured, hey I taught in the classroom for 7 years, I got my Masters Degree in Education, how hard can it be to teach 2 kids how to read and write and some Math facts? I was used to a classroom of 25...2 kids would be a piece of cake, right?
Ummmm, no! It was so fun at first. I loved it! Teaching pre-K is a blast. Everything is all about teaching them to love learning. You are introducing farm life, family life, library outings, growing lima bean seeds, reading about Flat Stanley, doing crafts, picking apples, baking, cooking, anything to stimulate learning in their brains, and all the while making it fun...I loved teaching, I am a teacher by trade, this would be easy...
Let's just say, teaching your own children is WAY different than a classroom of students. It's harder. I'm Mommy first. Then I am their teacher. We are just a normal family that wants to school our children at home because A. We feel God has called us to do it B. I feel very capable C. I am a stay at home mom who enjoys having my kids at home. But homeschooling is not all fun and games. It can be very hard at times. And yet, I wouldn't trade it in for all the world right now. I am truly loving it! Kindergarten was hard because it is laying down the foundation and I really struggled with teaching Julia how to read (I needed to give her grace since she was only 4 and I know my expectations were too high). Thankfully both my big kids love school time still and do not give me a hard time at all.
For the next few weeks I am going to be interviewing some other moms I know who were homeschooled, who homeschool and I am going to ask them...Why do you do it? What is the hardest thing about it? What are the benefits? etc.
There is a lot of judgment out there on us moms who homeschool. Let's face it. It's very unique. It takes a different kind of mom to do it, but it doesn't make us crazy! People in the summer are constantly asking my kids, "Are you excited to start school and go on the yellow bus?" And they say, "We are homeschooled!" And then the adults look at me as if I have 6 heads and bulging eye balls. I'm sure they are thinking, "Why in the world would you want your kids home all day if you can send them to school?" And my answer is, "Why wouldn't I want my kids home all day?"
So, hopefully over the next few weeks I will make a strong case for homeschool. Hopefully you will see that moms who homeschool do not deprive their kids of social events/outlets or a good education...on the contrary! We are normal families like you who want what is best for our kids too. It just may be different. And different isn't bad.
Click here to Read an update on this year's homeschool.