A year of meaningful work

Here it is — the end of April — and while our homeschool year won’t officially end until July or August, I begin now to start thinking about what I want to finish, what I’ll carry over to next year, what to work on over the summer, and we start to shift to other meaningful learning opportunities, such as gardening and admiring the spring flowers. I mean, how can we not get outside when the weather is so beautiful? (The photos in this post come from a morning we spent at the botanical garden.)

When I began homeschooling, I wanted to give my children a say in what they were learning, which I thought — and now know for sure — would motivate them to learn. I also wanted the chance to pick subjects I felt was important to teach them, and I wanted to decide when and how they should learn it. After seven years of homeschooling, I’m so pleased with what my boys are accomplishing and who they are becoming. I do think that homeschooling has made all the difference.

Whatever path a parent picks to educate their kids will have its challenges, and nothing is perfect. Sometimes I wish I had more resources so that I could provide additional activities for the boys, but I think we’re doing pretty good with what we’ve got. I’m realizing that any concern I had about homeschooling in the beginning is working itself out in the long run. That’s the thing about homeschooling — it takes the long view. There are no deadlines for anything like there is in traditional school. That makes a big difference for kids.

I will be writing a bit about the boys’ projects in upcoming posts. I said I would stop doing that, but what can I say? I have to share some of it! I’ll try to keep it brief.

I’m starting to realize that homeschooling my boys is one of my projects, and I’m enjoying it more than I ever thought I would. Through their interests, I’ve learned so much, but as I sit down and think about what’s important to teach — I get so much out of that too. I enjoy exploring curriculums as much as actually using them. These may not be subjects that my kids have asked for, but I’m not ramming it down their throats either. We take our time, and I back off, if they dislike something. Over time, I’ve realized this approach has kept the boys from hating “school stuff.” They even seem to like it sometimes.

We are, of course, doing the basics, such as math and grammar and writing. I feel like I’m relearning these subjects, and it’s great. I am enjoying the Life of Fred math books just as much as my boys, and it’s not so much because of the story about Fred, but I enjoy getting a review in math in a way I can understand it! And though I love to write, I’m starting to understand how to teach writing to someone who isn’t a natural at it, and I find that very satisfying.

I’m also so pleased with our progress in world history — this past year and a half we’ve covered prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews, Ancient India, Ancient China, and we’re going to be finishing up Ancient Greece soon too. We’ve read some fun books and watched interesting documentaries, and just because we’re moving onto another time and place in history doesn’t mean we’ll stop learning about these. As we find more resources, we’ll add them to our list.

This year we began studying two foreign languages! I know I mentioned that we were going to study Spanish, but I also added Chinese about mid-year. I feel like this year has been more about figuring out how to study and teach a language than actually making a lot of progress with it, but in its own way, that is progress, and I’m so excited. Eventually I will write a post about our foreign language study, but I’m happy with it so far, and I am determined to learn it as thoroughly as I hope my boys will learn it.

The challenge is fitting it all into our days. I try to balance lesson time with my son’s work (his piano practice) and our free time too. There are things I have to let go of, such as wanting to read books all morning on the sofa or weekly art lessons. (I’m lucky if I get to one every two months.) There are also subjects I put on hold. I know we’ll get to all of it over the next seven years (only seven years until my eldest graduates! what?!), but sometimes I wish there were more days in the week.

I think I always lament about time more than anything else. But I don’t mean to complain. It’s more of an observation that I have so many things I’d like to do, and it’s impossible to do them all. But that’s good. It forces me to pick what is most important and spend my time doing that. I don’t waste time. (Sometimes I daydream, but that’s not wasted time.) And I hope that as the boys grow up, they will learn to prioritize their work and make time for fun too.

How has your year been going?

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