Friday, May 16, 2008

Homeschooling, Year One....Part One

I cannot believe that this school year is just about finished! It is winding down and we should be completely done by month's end.

I have been thinking about a post for several months or each time I open a certain curriculum and say, "I will NEVER do this again" or "I will definitely do that again". While I tried to gain as much insight as possible from other homeschoolers, I don't imagine that there is a better way to fully understand what homeschooling looks like than from this vantage point.
And the first year? Well it was a plethora of live & learns which left me both humbled and grateful....and ready for more :)

It was a wonderful year with just a few hiccups in the way of actual schooling but as far as relationships, scheduling, & discipline......HOO-WEE! That stuff wore me out!

I did gather the majority of curriculum plans from the seasoned veterans and I loved the blogs that listed the fav's and not-so-much fav's last year. I am hoping to enlist others to start posting on this soon.

My goal is to write each day (ahem....goals are good, but don't try to hold my feet to the fire on this one) about the blessings of our first homeschooling year.

Blessing number #1-The Family Relationship

I am certain that there is not a more revealing way to truly examine the hearts of your children than to spend every last cotton-pickin' waking hour with them AND educate them along the way. Oh and let me edit-to-add....examine your heart as well.

Sinful selfishness picks no favorites. There are some strongly embedded roots of selfishness in each of my children, but none as deep-seeded as those that have taken up residency in my own heart.

After spending the last 9 years sending off one, two, or even three children to school each day, it was more than just a mere adjustment to embrace little to no time alone.

Let me clarify.

It is still an adjustment.

I have come away from this year realizing that I need to encorporate a daily quiet time for the entire family. I'll wait to post more on this when I get to the time management post. I'll do that when I have

Back to the year of hair-pullin & eye scratchin' huggin' & kissin' between the siblings.

The daily goal is that I have been obedient to God & His Word. That pretty much covers everything from what I teach them, how I discipline them, and more importantly, how much they see the scripture applied in my life as an example to them.

It was this lofty goal that set up such a quagmire (like that one L?) for me as the mother/teacher/model for right behavior. You see, when one of my students began to pluck my nerves, then selfishness and a lack of self-control ensued and instead of setting the example for right behavior I lost my cool and then handed that snowball to one of the kids to pass on down the hill.
Hence, making it more difficult to reconcile this behavior when they treated one another in the same manner.
Enter God's grace and redemption....required on a daily hourly basis.

Lesson #1 for Momma? Confess, Pray and Repent before God and then with my children. They had to see my humility and weakness before they could even begin to recognize their own sinful ways.

Over the course of the year we have worked and worked hard at practicing selflessness and considering the needs of others before our own. It sounds simple enough but it is so foreign to my kids who have come from the "take turns" world of public school. We threw "fair" out the window during week one and we haven't brought it back. I remind them often that my goal is not to establish a foundation for later friendships but to build the bonds of friendship NOW. If the sibling relationships are lacking in sacrificial love then we start to eliminate outside influences and priviledges. Period.

God makes it clear that our relationship with Him is the first priority....the family follows.

I am afraid we lost sight of this somewhere along the busy way of doing life....especially a life that involves so many other individuals who are often pulling the family apart.

I do not and will not accept the low standard of sibling rivalry. While the bible may give clear examples of sin and even hate among siblings it does not ever condone the behavior.

I also do not accept the tired standby of them spending too much time together as a viable reason for hateful words or harsh treatment towards one another. Granted, they need space and quiet time and we are establishing those boundaries but there is no biblical excuse for selfishness....not even the plucking of someone's last nerve.

Believe me. I've looked.

The girls are closer than they have ever been, often ending the day in Hannah's bed. Samuel is recognizing his role of the younger brother and how to respect his sisters and their authority when necessary. His sister's are treading gently in this area, careful not to abuse their position.

It's a delicate but beautiful process. In the midst they have found solace and true friendship, despite age and personality differences.

Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace had this to say on sibling relationships and I loved it!

I hope to have another post up today about curriculum choices and I am begging would love to hear feedback about your curriculum for this past school year and your plans for the next.



4kids&luvit said...

WONDERFUL post! I really appreciate your thoughts on nurturing friendships between your children. You gave me some things to think about. Looking forward to reading your tags about favorite and not-so-favorite homeschool materials.

Kenj said...

The first year is the hardest! Oh, the fun you'll have from here on out...

But, as you say, the school part is actually easy. The heart level relationship-building, now THAT is hard work.

Last night we had a very long talk around the dinner table about our family vision. What our children needed was someone to show them the future, to challenge them to look beyond today and what is bugging or entertaining them today. They don't have the hindsight to know that their family relationships will be one of the biggest blessings of their lives.

Kim said...

Such great thoughts and successes from your year! Great job focusing on the important things. We have been going through a *she's getting on my nerves* thing lately and I am going to have to start addressing the things you have mentioned here.

Homeschooling has so many benefits and working on your children's hearts is the most time consuming, but rewarding. Thanks for sharing this...I am going to post on some things we liked and didn't like this year soon....I am in the curriculum mood again!

I know you are doing a great job!
And with having a baby, reminds me of myself...We began homeschooling and found out we were expecting number three in the same year...then not so far down the road little JH joined we have similar challenges, but it is all good...don't you think?

5honeybunns said...

I couldn't have said it better myself-how beautifully stated. I am anxious to see everyone's response to curriculum choices, also--especially before the June convention-hint! hint!
Also, I would like to know if anyone has any great scheduling ideas for the day and for the year. Does everyone take the summer off or have another plan?

Tiffany said...

I personally can't begin to thank you enough Kim for your encouragement and friendship in my life. I can't believe we are at the end of our first full it flew by! Our family and kids will never be the same because of our decision to homeschool, and I can only imagine how much better it can and will get as I realize that this is a life long commitment...well or at least for the next 9 years when Julia will finish high school.

The best thing about curriculum is that I can choose what is best for each child, and change even mid-year if I must. What freedom!

I am also big time going to schedule, schedule, schedule for next year. I know that was one of our weaknesses this year was not having good schedules, alone time, and just hanging on by the seat of our pants somedays! Luckily we will be able to finish on time next week! I am however planning on doing some math (groans from the kids inserted here) at least a couple days a week during the summer just to keep their brains from mushing over and to help us have a little more freedom next school year.
I love the recess pictures! Your girls are just precious and I love that they aren't too old to imagine and just be themselves. They are richly blessed to have you Kim!

Love y'all so much!

Jill said...

This is a great post Kim. Congratulations on your first year. So much of what you said I echo...and we are still working on those things like selfishness and sibling relationships even after many years of homeschooling. Outside influences are always pulling at us as well as our own sin nature.

I agree that this lifestyle is a wonderful way of really revealing not only your childrens hearts but your own.

I will try to get my thoughts together about our school year and use your little linky. ;o)