It’s that time of year! School will soon begin, stores are already having Back to School sales, shopping is taking place. For those of us who are home-educators and don’t do summer school, it’s time to begin making schedules, calendars, restocking items, receiving deliveries of curriculum and getting back into that homeschool room or area designated to school hours.
I home-schooled Anna during her preschool years. We read stories, had monthly topics, made holiday crafts and learned numbers and letters.
Then I sobbed when we dropped her off at Public School Kindergarten for the first time. And just about everyday that year.
I tried homeschooling Kaitlyn for preschool, but she was better suited for heading out two days per week to an awesome smaller preschool housed in one of the local churches.
I sobbed when I sent her to Kindergarten too.
We had an awesome experience with public school. The girls had great teachers, great administration, great friends (whom they are still friends with to this day). Anna attended PS through fourth grade and Kaitlyn attended through second grade. I loved hearing their stories about their friends and helping out with lunch duty one day per week in each school. We were super proactive in their school experience, attending field trips, field days, school plays and parties as we could and were invited.
Then, after about 3 years we began to feel like we should homeschool. No reason for it, we didn’t need the girls to leave PS, we just felt led that way. I leaned toward un-schooling…. Jeremy, a certified and college educated music teacher did not. We had many, many discussions and ended up compromising on Cyber School.
Cyber School is an awesome blend of a home school schedule using a public school curriculum.
We looked through and contacted the various options our state offers and settled on one. Another family at our church also did cyber school and we were able talk with them about it. This particular school seemed to be right for us and we signed the girls up. The moment of making the final decision is wrenching. You just want to make sure it’s the right decision. Since ours is a state funded school, everything we need is free. Computers, printers, curriculum, math manipulatives…it’s all free.
A blessing to us, who live on one income.
As it would turn out we would move to another home and church 45 minutes away a year after we begin cyberschooling.
Cyberschooling meant our girls didn’t have to change schools, and family dynamics wouldn’t change too much.
Before moving the girls chose their homeschool room at the new house-the basement family room that came with a fireplace and it’s own bathroom. We began dreaming of this room, how we would set it up and where the desks would be. We also started to research programs and extracurricular activities we could put the girls in after we moved and others that we could take part in as a family. The scope of opportunity was huge for our new life after the move.
The first year of cyberschool was beyond rough. I tried to make it as much like a PS schedule as possible. Recess and lunch breaks, reading time, math time, snack time. It was all there.
Let me just tell you how much this didn’t work. The first year found all four of us in tears at times. It was a huge HUGE change to our lifestyle. We wondered if we had done the right thing.
We finished the first year and still planned to do it again the next year. Year two seemed easier. Now I knew that a little more flexibility would be beneficial. A recess break would work at any point in the day. As long as the kids got their work done (in cyber school, there is till accountability for daily attendance and turning in assignments when they are due) taking a break when they needed, it was working.
We are now headed into our fourth year of Cyberschooling. It works so well for our family. As a pastor’s family we don’t have a “normal” schedule. We don’t work a 9-5 job with evenings off. We have many evenings that are full and Jeremy can take a weekday off his normal day off, rather than a Saturday or Sunday. My kids love it. And really….that’s what makes it work.
Our daily schedule doesn’t make sense to some people-my kids sleep in later and stay up later than most PS kids. I’ve mostly given up on scheduling our days. Some days I may or may not forget to feed them breakfast. They take breaks when they need to. As long as they get their work done on time, we are otherwise very free with our school day.
They don’t have the same days off that the PS kids have, sometimes they have to work at night or on vacation, when the other kids wouldn’t. We often run errands during the day to which the standard question from cashiers is “Oh, so you have today off?” We don’t always have the time that others think we might have-time to babysit, time to take on projects, time to go out for lunch-homeschooling or cyberschooling still requires hours of intentional study. Some days I help the girls with certain subjects, some days they don’t need my help. Some days Jeremy is the one who can help them. Other times I beg Facebook friends to help.
On the other hand we can take Monday’s off for field trips, they start later and end school sooner than PS kids, during the day and the year. We are flexible with music lessons, practice can happen during the day rather than in the evenings,and they never, ever have homework. Sick days don’t get counted against them, they just do school work on the couch. Chores can be done during the day. Vacations can happen at times of the year when PS kids can’t often take them.
We spend much of our time together, watching our kids grow and seeing the moment they learn something new. Home educating can be as well rounded as the family makes it. Times of learning can include making cupcakes for the family, organizing a party on a country they have just learned about. Learning to budget and making deposits in the bank.
Vacations can be awesome times of finding something new to try, something new to learn. For us a trip to Gettysburg helps reinforce lessons on the Civil War or Abraham Lincoln. A trip to the science museum or art museum can never be a bad choice. Learning fractions through cooking, or etiquette through setting a table is a life long skill.
It’s not for everybody, but it works for us.
We officially heart Home Education.
We’ve tried different homeschool room settings, but what we’ve settled on is the dining room table, with a bookcase that houses all of our curriculum. Each girl gets one or two three ring binders divided into subjects. Each has her own computer and backpack, headphones, and pencil box.
I officially don’t like clutter. So the more clutter-free our house is the better. Thus…why we have one small, three shelved bookcase upstairs that houses immediate schoolday needs-calculators, extra pens and pencils, binders, copier/printer that doesn’t get used in the summer months.
Downstairs in the family room we have a lot of bookshelves, arts and craft supplies, drums, keyboard and music stands. Things that we don’t need to take up space on a daily basis.
Our home school rooms have taken on a journey of their own and seen a lot of changes over the years.
We started out like this:
Our school room doubled as our family/toy room.
I had cute seasonal bulletin board type stuff around the room.
When we moved, our basement family room became the classroom. Jeremy’s home office is on the opposite end of this picture. The big desk in the middle left of the picture is made of the desks the girls used in the other house. We just put them together for this room.
We discovered though, that we didn’t like being in the basement for five or more hours per day. It was a little dark and just felt like a basement.
We moved to the dining room. This works perfectly for us. The kitchen is just to the right of the picture, which means I can cook while the girls do schoolwork. The living room is just to the front of this picture so if anyone is sick we can still be together.
We have done school at the church-if our internet should be out for the day or I have work to do there.
This was our first day of school last year. Gotta be honest-I didn’t hate it.
Home Educating can include bird watching and identifying while on a hike, observing rocks, soil, fish while kayaking along a riverbed, making a meal and using measurements, building something with a grampa, visiting a museum with a grandma. Social skills can be learned while visiting with an elderly neighbor. Music lessons can be taken during the day or by listening to dad (a music history buff) talk about his favorite piece of music. Public speaking can be learned through church events. Anything else can be learned through little league sports, swimming lessons, riding lessons, community theater or choirs. Geography can be learned through using a map on the wall and traveling through the states. Much can be learned by hanging posters on the back of the bathroom door.
We love the family togetherness Home educating offers us, during an otherwise busy, busy ministry life.