I am a mother of a 1, 4, and 6 year old. I tried homeschooling this year with the attitude it is “just kindergarten” and my daughter is not enjoying it, I am not enjoying it, my son who is 4 drives me crazy he doesn’t listen to anything I say, so it seems. My daughter wants to go to the school her neighbor friend goes to but something in me likes the idea of homeschooling. I am so confused. My husband supports me in my decision, but I wish someone would just tell me what to do and have a peace about it! That is my big thing, I want to feel peace. Can you help?
How do you know homeschooling is for you? God whispers it in your heart as the best thing you could do for your children, and you can’t seem to shake the idea. It is quite one thing to get the inspiration to homeschool, and quite another to have the skills to do a good job at it. It is the same with mothering. It is quite one thing to feel thrilled at the idea of having a baby, and quite another thing to know how to be a good mother.
But we are here to learn! And the learning process is a bumpy road! Some homeschooling days are horrible, some are heavenly, and most are somewhere in between, with continual gradual improvement. The goal, of course, with homeschooling (or mothering) is to learn what works, how to make it enjoyable, how to accomplish what you set out to do, and to become more Christlike day by day. Just because you and your children are not enjoying homeschooling does not mean it is not right for you–it only means that you are still learning how to teach, and how to parent. Whether you homeschool or not, your 4-year-old son will have to learn how to listen to you and honor you, if you want to raise him uprightly. What a tremendous blessing you have in your supportive husband! Many, many moms I know yearn for that blessing!
Peace is what you are seeking, and I am sure you will find it. If God has inspired you to homeschool, then peace in your own heart will come to you as you follow that prompting. Peace in your homeschool will come as you master the techniques of teaching, and parenting--and your children begin to enjoy learning, and love having you as their teacher. There is a very sharp learning curve when you begin homeschooling (or parenting). Read all you can from trusted sources, and learn all you can from experienced homeschool mothers you admire. Focus on creating joy, rather than perfectionism in academics. As your homeschool becomes a joyful place, no school can compete with it. Your children will prefer being in homeschool, and being in your company.
Where to start? Look to fulfill the needs of your students. What do children 4 and 6 years old need? Their mother’s love, smiles, tenderness, playfulness, kind words and time together. Knowledge about God and how to please Him. Guidance in how to behave in various situations and get along with others. Introduction to the wonderful world around them. Basic literacy skills: to read and write and do simple math. Hands-on learning projects. To learn to love books deeply by being read to. To feel accomplishment. Other children with good standards to play with. (As for your 1-year-old, we all know what they want and need: Mom!).
First of all, nobody wants to go to something boring. Your school needs to be enticing and fun. I start my school (any time of year you want to “begin”) by taking my children on a school shopping trip. $10 will buy crayons, markers, scissors, glue stick, a pencil box, 3 ring notebook, etc. Let them choose the color of their pencil box and the type of markers, etc. That is a very small investment to create excitement and thrill a child!
If you have the funds, a new outfit or shirt for school gives them the “new school clothes” that all their neighbors will be wearing. Designate one area in your home as your “school room”, even if it is the kitchen table and adjacent wall with “cinderblock and boards” bookcase. Create a bulletin board area (even just a wall to stick things on) and decorate it with some construction paper cut outs or a border from a school supply store. Put your children’s pictures up there, and eventually the projects they do, to display. Put a weather chart so you can graph the weather, and a calendar so you can put a sticker on each new school day and count days until the next field trip or birthday or event. Take a trip to the library and get books on the subject you intend to teach that week and put them on your bookshelf, accessible to the children. Tell them they are for reading at school. If you are studying lizards, for example, print off a few pictures off the internet to post on your bulletin board or set up a little display with some toy lizards lounging on rocks. None of this takes very much time, but you’ll have your children begging to start school!
Keep school short and sweet. Children age 4 and 6 years old need a few hours of school, no more. Have your opening exercises by doing some jumping jacks, pledging the flag, singing a song together, and having a prayer. Read aloud to them from an exciting storybook. Do some phonics and reading, math and writing in their school journals. Do your Subject of the Day together, such as Science by reading to them from those library books and looking at pictures together and doing some hands-on things. Don’t forget Art—every child’s favorite.
School’s out, but there are chores, and service projects and errands and assignments for helping cook dinner, and time to play with other children (this social contact is very important). Life is happy and they are learning and growing and you will feel peace. You’ll know that homeschooling is definitely for your family!
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