Friday, March 21, 2008

What I Wish I Had Known

(Edited slightly for the Carnival of Homeschooling, being hosted by my friend, Tiffany, this week. Thanks for visiting and I hope you find something helpful for you here.)

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I found this wonderful Friday meme over at The Heart of the Matter, a wonderful online homeschooling magazine. I'm so excited because I have loved homeschooling and love sharing about it.

Today's theme is, "What I Wish I Had Known My First Year." Gosh, my first year seems so long ago it's hard to even remember what I did or didn't know then. Now that Emily is finishing up 7th grade and Daniel is preparing to enter middle school, and we are considering putting them in school due to some upcoming changes in our family, I have a lot to look back and learn from though.

I wish I had know how fleeting my time with my children would be. I love the saying, "The days are long, but the years are short." When I realize that in just 5 years one of my children will be off to college and out of our home possibly, it's shocking. There is so much to teach them, so much to impress upon them. In the midst of all the, oh heck, I'll just say it, drudgery of being a homeschooling wife and mom (you know what I mean - the endless cleaning, meal preparation, lesson planning, teaching, correcting, etc.) there are precious, teachable moments when you really connect with your child's heart. I would savor each of those moments a little more.

I wish I had known that socialization is NOT what the world says it is. Let's face it, this is one of the biggest concerns most people have for homeschooled children. And, yes, there are some freaks out there who homeschool their children and withhold them from any contact with the world outside their family. But that's not the norm. Most homeschool families are so connected with the world around them. Homeschooled children learn how to deal with people of all ages - not just those of the same age and social class. A dear friend of mine often tells me that my kids aren't in the "real world." (Yes, we are still friends.) But what I think she doesn't understand is that my kids' world is much more "real" than hers'. My kids go about my day with me, watching how the world works. They socialize with everyone from infants to senior citizens. They are able to look an adult in the eye and have a conversation. I get compliments all the time from people who can just sense a difference in them due to their maturity level.

I wish I had known that unit studies are just not right for everybody. There is such a push for unit studies in homeschooling circles. And they are great, they really are. Our first two years we used one of the unit study giants that are out there and had a ball. But I was exhausted! I spent hours and hours each week tracking down all the books and materials I would need. Did my kids have fun learning? You betcha! But it didn't work in the long haul for us. We now use a more literature-based program where everything comes in one box and, for us, it has been a godsend.

I wish I had known that it's ok (and probably good) to switch curriculum mid-year. When you first start homeschooling, you child is not the only one learning. You are too - you are learning your child's learning style, your teaching style, and what each curriculum has to offer. I cannot tell you the times I invested money in some program and tried to slog through it, even though it didn't work for our family, just because I had spent the money. Now I'm not advertising wasting money. But I would advise new homeschoolers to not sink a lot of money into the first thing or two they try. It may look really good in the catalog or at the convention, but real life has a way of making the flaws show up. Be willing to acknowledge when something isn't working and take steps to correct it.

I wish I had known that God is an infinitely better teacher than me. Let me tell you, ladies, I am not a trained teacher. But somehow, through all my failings (and they are many) my children are doing well. Sometimes I wonder how, but they are. Even though we are a little loose with our schedule and even though I often answer a question with "I don't know," they are pretty darn smart. I accredit this to God. He provides what I miss. I've heard that there are holes in every education. But I've come to understand that God knows what my kids need, more than I do. He'll help them get it, even when I screw up. Now this isn't license to just slack off and do nothing! But it is comforting to know that when I fail, the kids have a much, much better Teacher to rely on.

If you've come by way of The Heart of the Matter, thanks so much for stopping by! Well, actually, no matter HOW you got here, thanks for stopping by! If you would like to discuss homeschooling with me, I'm always in the mood to share, so feel free.


Anna said...

We're in our first year of homeschooling, and I would agree with you 100%! Thanks for the encouragement.

Tracy said...

So true so true with my oldest hitting 7th grade next fall it's been a learning experience as well. I savor each moment of my kids growing up they are just growing way to fast for this mama's liking :)

Heather said...

Wow! I totally agree with you! You hit the nail on the head :)

Ellen said...

What you said about socialization was great. It's so great that my kids have the confidence to talk to adults that we meet, and to learn from them.

ValleyGirl said...

This is another great homeschooling post, Lori!! You say all these things SO well and I tell ya, if I ever do decide to give it a try, it will be because of the influence of you and a handful of other bloggers!!

Karen said...

I love this even though I am not a homeschooling mom. I agree that the years pass so quickly (says a mom who's baby just turned 16!) And I always worried that I would forget to teach them something really important like not sticking a fork in a light socket. But God does provide.

Ivy Vega from said...

This is such a refreshing post. I am a new homeschooler to a 5y/o. I have visited so many blog sites that makes homeschool look simple and perfect in their ways.
There are days when I am lost and confused. But overall I am truly enjoying this calling in my life.
Thank you for your honesty. I really enjoyed it.
Many blessings.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Thank you for this. I am a homeschooled kid who's trying to make the transition from knowing how it worked on my end to knowing how to do "the other part."

I've bloglined your site ;o)

stacey said...

this is a good post. i will be sure to share with my friend who is thinking about it.

Southpaugh Homeschool - Heidi said...

I totally agree with your list!
My kids are amazed at how well I know them - - and others are, as well. I think homeschooling does that to a parent/child relationship.
Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I just added you to my favorites list under homeschooling. I will definitely come back again and again to glean from your honest candor about homeschooling. Once I ever figure out how to get my own blog site up and running, I'll be sure to direct a link yours. Gette

Katie said...

Thanks for your post! I'm considering homeschooling my 4yo son next year for kindergarten. We don't really plan to do it for more than a year (we need time to find a home in the school district we want), but then, you never know. It might be just the right thing for us. I used to say I would never be able to homeschool. Once again, I have learned to never say never. (Why that is a lesson I have to keep learning, I don't know!)

And about the socialization, that used to be my biggest concern. But we are so involved in our church, plus we have plenty of friends with kids of similar age, that it just isn't a factor in my decision at this point.

Thanks again! =)

Renae said...

Thank you for sharing this. Encouragement to do what fits with your family is always encouraging.

I wish I hadn't pushed my son so much during his first years of school. I was so stressed about doing everything right. I didn't, but you are right, God is a better teacher than me anyway. :)

eclectic education said...

I'd have to agree with what all you wrote. Well, except I didn't trudge through unit studies, I trudged through text books. I wish I would have relaxed more!!!



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