If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know the latest news for our family: we have chosen to homeschool. The idea has been brewing for several years, but with Swee preparing to enter kindergarten, we made the final choice that we’d take the leap and keep her home this fall. There were a lot of very personal reasons behind that move, and I’ll keep most of them private because I don’t know that there’s any way to articulate them without seeming to bash the choices of others (and really, you do you and I’ll do me). There were a few factors that helped make the path clear for us, like the fact that kindergarten here runs a full day, five days a week. That’s a lot for a kid that age, and it would be a lot for our daughter. And then there’s the fact that I really want her (and her sister) to be allowed to be little, for as long as they can. To play freely and follow their interests, to move as quickly or as deliberately as necessary in their learning, to have fun and not lose the joy! I think these desires are understood and appreciated by most mamas (and daddies!) and I do feel fortunate that we’re able to choose this path for our little ones.
Our family already operates on a very non-traditional schedule, so it isn’t much of a stretch for us to work a little more targeted learning into our days. I am with the girls when J is out of the house, and he’s with them when I’m working. The only real changes we’ve made so far are that our library choices are themed and I’m being a little more deliberate in how we structure our time together. Mama and Daddy are both teaching, playing to our natural strengths, though we are somewhat stereotypical in the way they fall: I’m handling most of the arts and humanities while Daddy covers science and math. My own dad has often filled in when my work hours overlap with J’s, so now he is helping us make our way through the library bag and reinforcing what we have been or will be learning.
We’ve already been asked, “How long are you going to do this?” and the only answer I have is that we will homeschool for as long as it works for our family. When it no longer serves us, we will reassess. That may be one year, or it might be five, or it might be all twelve. I’m not going to impose limits or measures of success just yet.
We’ve also fielded a couple of statements (not questions, because opinions were asserted without inquiries being made) on her socialization. Again, I’m calling this a non-issue because our daughter is as social as she wants to be. We play with friends that are her age and have conversations with people of all ages, everywhere we go. We take piano lessons and play on a soccer team. We are teaching table manners and how to order in a restaurant. We attend our community breakfast regularly, and she is participating in a special program for girls here in town. We are deliberate about providing opportunities for her to interact with others beyond what she would be offered in a public school classroom setting.
And so last week was apple week. Our reading list was all about apples, as were our art projects and our science lesson (what will keep an apple from browning, and the chemical reactions involved). We practiced writing Big A and little a, sorted animals by habitat, and baked apple pie bites to enjoy for poetry teatime. When Thursday struck and Swee didn’t want to even think about apples or letters, and wild animal noises were coming out instead of words, we hopped on our bikes and went for a ride up the dirt road through the corn fields. How wonderful to have the freedom to shift gears like that!
That freedom was also a little daunting at first, and as we got closer to our start date, I panicked a little. How on earth are we going to do this?! The only way I could see was to start small, and start at the beginning. A is for apple. It seems to be working so far.