The following is a guest post by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
You’d think, after 12 years, I’d have this homeschooling thing down. Nope! I’m still learning new things about myself, my kids, and what new seasons of homeschooling look like.
We’re in a brand-new season this year and, I’ll be honest, it’s pretty awesome. We graduated our oldest last May. She’s living at home, working, and going to cosmetology school, leaving me homeschooling my middle school girl and my freshman boy.
This new season has driven home for me 4 truths about homeschooling.
One of these, I learned many years ago, but have been reminded of this year. Three, after all these years homeschooling, are brand-new to me — or, at least, are being shown to me in a brand-new light.
1. The experts are not experts on your kids.
When I first began formal learning with my younger two kids, all the “experts” said that we should only work for 15 or 20 minutes at a time and take short breaks. I quickly learned that that didn’t work for us. It took twice as long as the actual break to get them refocused and back on task. It was much more realistic to just make sure I changed up our activities every 15 or 20 minutes than to actually take a break.
You are your kid’s parent. Feel free to try all the homeschooling advice that sounds reasonable, but don’t sweat it if it doesn’t work for your family.
2. Just because something doesn’t work at one point, doesn’t mean it never will.
Those breaks that we couldn’t take when my kids were little? They’re working out great now that they’re teens. There are still a few subjects that we work on together. It used to drive my boy nuts that his sister would need a bathroom break or a water break or a something break right in the middle of one of our group learning times.
I’ve eliminated that frustration this year by giving the kids a 5-10 minute break between each subject. They’d have gone off the rails with that a few years ago.
Now, it’s mutually beneficial because it gives them a chance to go to the bathroom, get a drink or a snack, or, more importantly, check and send a few quick texts and not feel as though they’re completely cut off from their friends all day — a huge deal when you school year round, but your friends don’t.
Photo by Kris
3. It’s important to find your kids’ passions.
I’ve heard this many times during the last 12 years of homeschooling and I’ve said it myself. I’ve even managed to successfully do it here and there (like when my oldest spent an entire school year studying World War I and II).
However, I don’t think I’ve seen it as acutely as I have during the last couple of weeks since that same kid, now graduated, has started cosmetology school. The kid who used to have to be nagged and reminded about school assignments is coming home excited about how quickly she’s progressing through tasks at school.
Last week, the kid who hated tests took a practice quiz that she didn’t have to take because she thought that seeing what she already knew and what she needed to study would help her on the actual test coming up. (Can you imagine if I’d been the one to suggest that?)
And, the younger brother and sister who are still at home? We’re using a new history curriculum that’s more project-based than anything we’ve done in the past. Both are currently working on individual projects that they chose themselves and the excitement is palpable.
Oh, and music? The boy never has to be reminded to play. Painting or creative writing? The girl never has to be nagged.
4. Independence rocks.
The elementary years are rather teacher-intensive, no? This year, my 7th and 9th grade kids are working much more independently than ever before. Independent learners rock!
I got both kids student planners at the beginning of the year. I thought my girl would enjoy hers — because she’s a lot like her mama — but I wasn’t sure the boy would be too impressed.
Using the planners has been going so well, though. It gives each kid a clear picture of what needs to be done each day. It also provides a place for each of them to plan out what needs to happen when in order to get their projects completed by the due date.
We do all of the work that needs to be completed together early in the day, leaving the afternoons free for their independent work — and free for me to do my work or household chores.
So, moms of littles, hang in there! Less mom-intensive days really do happen sooner than you think!
This new season of homeschooling has hammered home these 4 truths and has given me a renewed excitement for the year ahead.
What homeschooling truths have you learned or seen in a whole new light recently?