Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Tu B’Shevat. It is an especially wonderful chag (holiday) in our house. Not only is it the birthday of the trees, it is the birthday of boy #2 and it is nice to take the day and make it even more special. So, I am wishing my 10 year old a wonderful birthday! (The cake is supposed to resemble a pomegranate cut open. 🙂 )
This post is actually a continuation of the previous posting. The first step was coming up with our decision. The next step was deciding what in the world I was going to do. Actually, these two steps were made simultaneously. As I was investigating, I investigated different curricula, but it was not until I found the answers to my questions did I feel I was ready. And when I was ready, I already had the material I was going to use.
As I mentioned, during the six months of research, I investigated all sorts of curricula and methods, and given the fact that this was the first year homeschooling, and I was not sure I could/would find the time to create my own, (and why should I re-invent the wheel anyways, if something else is out there?) I settled upon Calvert’s homeschooling package. This appealed to me for Calvert sends everything one needs to start homeschooling, including pencils, paper and a pencil sharpener! What more could I ask for? And, at just under $700 (which included teacher support the entire year, and ATS – optional testing/grading by accredited teachers,) it was 92% cheaper than our day school. What a deal!
At the time we had 3 boys, the youngest being only 18 months. I was going to homeschool our oldest only, who was going to be almost 5, and entering grade 1. (We felt that he had more than the mental capability at such a young age and with his personality it would be better to push him than keep him behind.)
Calvert lists the average amount of time required for each of their subjects, so before our new school year was to begin, I made a schedule – starting at about 9 am. I quickly ran into a big problem. For kindergarten, they were suggesting 2.5-3 hours of school work — Ok, so 9am-12pm. BUT, that was not going to work! I was going to have one boy at a playgroup, and I was going to have my baby (ok, toddler) at home, and there was nap time, as well as having to feed him and play with him – he was not a newborn, and so just having him sit next to us was not going to work. I had to have everything done by lunch time, for that was when I had to go get my other child and spend time with him too! How could I homeschool?
As with most people, I was never homeschooled and until this time, I do not recall ever meeting (let alone talk too) another homeschool parent/child. People get used to a school setting: Go to school by a certain time in the morning. Bell rings. Take attendance, class. Bell rings. Change class/recess. Bell rings. Lunch. Bell rings. Afternoon classes and recess. The bell rings for these as well. We are conditioned with the bell. Also, how we are taught is similar throughout almost all schools – Textbooks and worksheets.
Then the breakthrough happened. I learned something very important to homeschooling, something seemingly so obvious, but not obvious to most people:
You do not have to follow a standard school schedule.
What this means is that I do not have to do a 9-12 school, I can teach whenever I want/need/have time too. If I want to start before the standard school starting time, then I can. If I want to take the entire morning off for it does not fit our family schedule, and teach only in the afternoons, then I can. If I wanted to teach a little in the mornings and then a little in the afternoon when the two younger boys went down for a nap, I was allowed that too. I realized I was allowed to think out of the box. I was free to be different. There is no “one size fits all” approach in homeschooling. As I was to find out over the years, this applies to the teaching style and materials used as well.
With this enlightenment, my eyes were opened, and all of a sudden this big heavy burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was actually getting really excited. I could see that I could do it, and I was not worried if things did not quite work out. I knew that I was allowed to try things a different way.
This was not going to be the first time that things just “seemed to click”, and I am sure there will be a few more to come. As I am learning more and more lately, homeschooling is learning for everyone in the family, not just the children.