Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Seeking To Simplify - My Way of Having a Simple Homeschool

    Homeschooling is something I am pretty passionate about. I love being able to teach my kids at home. I love getting to learn with them and being able to teach them wholeheartedly about spiritual things along right along with the learning about everything else. I just love being able to be together a lot - and not having to spend most of the school days apart. I also love seeing them grow and develop and see things "click" when they understand something.

   Because we love homeschooling so much and because I see how wonderful it can be for teaching out children about the Bible and living for Jesus Christ - I want to see everybody that tries homeschooling to be successful at it - to love it as much as we do. It makes me sad when I see young mothers who are homeschooling but are feeling stressed out and burdened by that journey.

  Homeschooling is an area where I think simplicity can be very beautiful!!!

   We were at a small local homeschool book sale this past Friday and coming up soon in our state is the state wide homeschool conference which many will go to and look at all the different options for books and curriculum and I believe many will go away feeling overwhelmed and unsure of their choices. I know  many will go away feeling very blessed and inspired too so I am in no way knocking these events, I just know how seeing so many different options and ideas affect some people.

  But even beyond homeschool curriculum fairs, just in normal life, I have seen many families getting bogged down in the process of homeschooling. I don't know how many moms that I have visited with that struggle with knowing how to get every subject covered by every child. My heart goes out to these families that are trying so hard but feel like they are not getting everything covered and that they are failing. I believe that homeschooling does not have to be that hard (sure there will be some struggles - these is in pretty much everything worthwhile). I want to share with you some of the ways that we have worked to keep things simple in our homeschooling journey....

  • We do not have to have textbooks for every subject. In fact we use very few. Textbooks can be useful and sometimes they can even be very interesting and fun but often they are a little dry. Kids often don't feel inspired by them and so parents are left assigning them and making sure they get done. We do still use them regularly for Math and for some other subjects off and on but it is not a large portion of our day.
  • Not every subject has to be worked on every day, every week, every month or even every year.  For us we do have some core things that are worked on most every day throughout the school year - Bible (without textbooks!), Math and some sort of working with words/writing are done every day but not so with everything else. We hit many of them very often but not always. This year we decided we needed a stronger emphasis on science - so we have spent more time on it. Mid year my husband declared (after helping some kids proofread essays) that we needed more working on English Grammar so this Spring that has had higher emphasis. You can observe  your children and see what they are learning naturally and what you can give them to help them in that learning and also see where you need to prompt some learning to happen. :-)
  • We like to learn from REAL, LIVING Books just as much as possible. This is a Charlotte Mason term for using books written by people that are passionate about what they are writing, ones that have a personal knowledge of the subject they write about - they have lived them. We use these largely instead of textbooks. They are written in an interesting manner and they catch a child's interest. They can be non-fiction and even fiction that is written about History or Science in a way that we can learn from it.
  • We do a lot of learning together through me reading aloud and then they tell me back (reciting) what they have learned. This is done with all of my kids together. I love this so much! This is how pretty much all of our Bible, History, Geography, Science, Art, Literature and more is learned. They also do non-required study on their own in many of these subjects just for the fun of it.
  • We try to limit any textbook learning/ individual subject work to a couple of hours in the morning and then around an hour of reading together after lunch. It is a schedule that is do-able for me and also does not overwhelm my children.
  • We do try to keep learning opportunities available at all times - year round- for our children. Just because we don't have lots of textbook time doesn't mean we can't learn. We have shelves full of fun educational books, we visit the library, we learn how to do things from others, we watch things that educate us on Youtube. There are so many opportunities to learn - let's have fun doing that!
  • We try to remember what really matters. Whether my child becomes a genius is not important. What is important is if he loves Jesus Christ and loves his neighbor. Whether she is honest and hardworking. I did/do also hope that all my children would love to learn and delight in discovering what God made for us to enjoy.
 When we go into any part of parenting, whether it be homeschooling or simply training, it can feel overwhelming and beyond our capabilities. Parenting is truly a challenge - and I think it is one that we are better off not trying to handle on our own. I am so thank-ful for the parenting advice given me when my oldest was a baby: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5.   I remember a time thinking - "God I can't do this, I am afraid that I will fail in training my children so that they will follow You." I was reminded that it doesn't rely on what I can do but rather God is the one who has the strength and wisdom that I would need for each day. Only through Him would this mission of raising children be successful. 

  Now that my children are a little older and I can start to see the end result it makes me so very thankful for all that God has done for us. He has blessed us over and over again. He is so very faithful!

   I think some might question whether the simple methods that I listed above truly work. I believe they do. But mostly I would say that it isn't the method that is as important (different ways work for different people) as just leaning on God for wisdom and trusting Him. But because I believe there are mothers out there that are feeling overwhelmed with a heavy load of schoolwork but hesitate to try something like what I listed above I want to tell you a little about the success that I see in my kids. This is completely to the Glory of God! Without Him I don't believe these would be true...

  • We are blessed to have 4 children who love Jesus and have turned their lives over to Him.
  • We are seeing ACT scores that win scholarships.
  • We have children successfully working for employers.
  • We have children who have successfully run their own little businesses complete with book work and certification needed for that.
  • We have children who have won essay contests.
  • We have children who are leaders in our homeschool community.
  • We have children who volunteer.
  • We have children who love to learn.
  • We have children who are smarter than us in so many areas - Ken and I have figured out who to ask when we have questions in different areas. This is so delightful for us. No need to google things - we can just ask our kids.
  • We have children who are well respected and loved in our neighborhood (Filled with mostly elderly people).
  • We have a daughter who was chosen to represent our community in Washington DC because she was such a "well-rounded and community minded individual". 
 I think simple learning works but most of all I truly believe God works in amazing ways. 

 So, if you are a mother that is struggling to get everything done - this post is for you. My dream is that you could find rest in Jesus Christ and seek His leading through-out this homeschooling journey and truly be able to find rest and joy.


Jodie Freed said...

Hi, thanks for sharing. I believe in a simple homeschool as well. I have a question about reading instruction. My first child learned to read very easily and with very little frustration. However, my second child who is 8, struggles very much with reading. I believe you had mentioned that one of your sons had struggled with reading but now was doing very well. Do you have any advice/suggestions, things that worked or didn't. I would appreciate your feedback. Thankyou

HappyMommy said...

I loved this post. We are simple homeschoolers as well. I love just discussing things with our kids....we do a circle time where we talk about Science, History, the bible, watch you tube videos, etc. It is my favorite part of the day! We use textbooks for math...although I am switching that up a bit with some new math textbooks and grammar workbooks (I love Sandi Queen's work books!) Thank you for your insight!

Abbi said...

Jodie, You remembered correctly that my son Aaron was slow to learn to read. He would read with me beside him and encouraging him at around 8 years old but it wasn't until he was 10 that he really took off with reading books by himself. I found this post about it when I was wanting to check some dates:
He does love to read now and reads a lot but he does still struggle with spelling - so there seems to be something with his dealing with letters that is a challenge somehow. We are still working on the spelling aspect. Mostly what we did is just kept at it. Until he was reading a lot on his own, I had him read to me for a little while every day. Helping him and teaching him along the way. Looking back now and seeing his struggle with spelling I wish I would have worked on phonics more - stressing the sounds that the letters and their combinations make. As far getting kids to want to read I really think having severely limited use of TV or any electronics helped a lot with that. Also the fact that I had the kids have a quiet time each and every day where their only option was to spend time with books or just sit/lay and daydream. Also doing a lot of reading aloud and having books available to read was I believe helpful as well. I hope that might help in some way. May God give you wisdom!

Abbi said...

Happy Mommy, your circle time sounds fun! I love hearing from other homeschooling moms who are having fun with teaching their kids!

Amy and Mark said...

I love this! Thank you for all of your homeschool posts! We are at the time of year when we order our books for the next school year and as both of us were raised in schools (Mark's private, mine public) it's hard to get out of the mindset that every subject needs a textbook. I have book marked this post as a reminder! I thank God so often for you and for all of your encouragement over the years!

Abbi said...

Amy, I feel so blessed that God has used me to be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey. I am enjoying hearing about how it is going for you!


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