IF I had to do it over again...
By Debbie Wills
(Re-print from April 1995 PEACH newsletter)
It's spring! (Almost) Warm days are coming and things are becoming green! It is also the time of year homeschool Moms and Dads get many questions from parents seeking a way out of the public school setting. Recently, I had a Mom ask me, "if I had it to do all over again, what would I do differently?" I hashed this over for awhile and this is what I came up with:
I would throw away the schedule! I would not do math from 9:30 to 10: 15 and Science from 10: 15 to II: 15, etc. I would simply make a checklist of things to accomplish, with a regular starting time for the day, and then proceed through the list the best I could. If I didn't accomplish everything on the list, I would simply move those items to the next day's list. There will be many interruptions (it's called life) and I've learned I must be flexible to survive!
I would keep my curriculum super simple! I realize now that I caused myself a lot of headaches by tying to cover ALL the subjects. If I could do it over, for my first year, and especially for the early years: I would first read the Bible daily with my children then I would only concern myself with math, grammar, reading and writing, I wouldn't stress myself out with history, science, and social studies textbooks. I would simply read books about these subjects aloud to the children for discussion. So much time is needed for training a child that Mom is the boss and the teacher, when one has pulled their child from the public school setting like we did!)
I would listen to those veterans who told me that "unschooling my child" would take up a great amount of my time. My children had to learn a new way of schooling. And, I had to learn to run things differently than the way I was educated. It took a lot of patience that first year as I continually heard, "we didn't do it this way in school' from the little mouths of our children.
I would realize that training and disciplining my child is a part of my curriculum. Some days all I accomplish is following through on an assignment, or a punishment for a disrespectful attitude, or a correction of how siblings treat each other, or persevering through an adolescent's "bad mood". But, I have learned that this training is essential to their character and spiritual development. If I fail in this area, I've really blown it! I've also learned that if this area is under control it's conducive to a good academic learning attitude.
I would turn off the TV and have very strict rules about its use. I would encourage free time of reading, playing board games, drawing, painting, playdough, building tree forts, riding bikes, etc. I noticed after I really cracked down on TV and the lives, that my children were more cooperative and kinder to each other. I would appreciate that learning is a very natural thing to a child. Teaching my child is not me pouring knowledge into their little heads. I have learned that exposing them to the world around them, and then reading about their natural interest is the best way to educate them. I realize, some things are a discipline, like phonics, grammar, math, etc., but for the most part, reading about something and then doing something related activity is an easy and natural way to teach. This really took a lot of pressure off of me, after I learned this lesson.
And lastly, one thing I wouldn't change ... Are the many times I knelt in my bedroom and cried out to God telling Him my feeling of inadequately. It's by God's grace that we do this thing called homeschooling. "We can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens us". Homeschooling is the road our family is traveling, and we are not turning back no matter what the hurdles may be. God has called us to this way of life and His strength will sustain.