Everyone I have ever talked to about homeschooling says that the first year of homeschooling is just an entire year of getting your feet under you. They all say, it is a learning process.
I decided to read a few books, follow some blogs, and jump in to homeschooling, knowing that I would not make all of the right decisions or do it perfectly. I just felt like it was the right thing for our family to do.
The first thing that I did to proactively learn about homeschooling, was attend a workshop. It was called "Engaging Early Learners". It was put on by a homeschooling store in our area. In the workshop they encouraged us to make a top ten list. This would include the top ten things that we would like our kids to get out of their educations. Being the busy girl that I am, I was quite sure that if I chose ten things, the list would get lost and I would never be able to remember the goals I had set. Some how I got busy and never put the list together. Later I talked with my brother-in-law, and he told me that he had been to a Boy Scouts of America workshop the teachers their asked them to put together a list of (I think) top 5 goals that they wanted to set for their scouts, and then plan activities according to the list. Again I thought I better keep it to 3 things- or I would never remember it. Later I talked to my sister-in-law. This is the one that I bounce ideas off of, all of the time. She is gracious enough to listen to me. After I told her all of this, she agreed with me that I should keep it to 3 things. So here is my list.
We want our family to grow up with a
1) Love of the Lord and his teachings
2) Love of family
3) Love of learning
Now, our focus is set. Julie Beck said, "We have to be intentional about everything we do." I agree. I know that is true. I have set and succeeded at enough goals in my life to know that I need to be intentional. Our focus is these 3 goals. Now, how do I go about accomplishing these goals? I don't have answers, but this is what I am doing currently.
Every morning for goal 1 we read from the George Albert Smith manual. The pure truth of his teachings have captivated my children. I have heard little snippits of testimony blossoming.
We have also been intentional about our family scripture study, by making it a morning study(instead of bedtime ritual) while hubbin is home, followed by family prayer. We also pray and discuss gospel matters through the day, but the scripture study, prayers, and devotionals are intentionally placed and carried out.
OK goal 2, a love of Family. Wow, this one, with 5 kids, 4 boys, seems to be a little more difficult. My personal goal is to teach myself not to yell. I am trying so hard to learn more patience. I am trying to bridal my passions. I am trying to lead by example by showing love. Homeschooling has been a big blow to my ego- I am not as patient and definitely not the pillar of perfection that I thought I was, pre-homeschooling. ;) We have some rules that we follow, to keep the peace.
These are from the Eyer family. I decided they had some experience in the matter- and I didn't have the time to come up with my own, so why re-create the wheel. Here is their website - http://www.valuesparenting.com/about/theeyres.php
Here are their/ our rules
Peace, Respect, Order, Asking, and Obedience
I love that the consequences are built in (check their site) and the rules are boiled down to the basic principles of family unity. Perfect! When there are rules established, love can follow. So love of family. Part of the peace rule, that we have added is that the fighters do each others job. To serve each other after the fight. That is my favorite part of that consequence- and honestly I think it is the kids favorite part too. In my family growing up, we called this the raisin pie theory. Just know that if you got a raisin pie from my mom, you could consider yourself forgiven :) Thanks Mom!
And lastly a love of learning. I can be a little bit of a dictator. I say, "you will do what I tell you to, now, or you will receive a consequence". That has not promoted a love of learning, so I have been scouring the internet for help. I have been picking my mom's brain. I have been comisserating with fellow home-school moms. What I have decided for the present is that kids naturally love to learn. They are little scientists. They learn all of the time. I have noticed this especially with #2. I stop his learning when I require him to work in a workbook. One of the first books about home-schooling I read was called The Three R's by author Ruth Beechick. She sites a study where two classrooms were given separate educations. One of the classrooms was taught hands-on science. Melting ice, growing plants, building, etc. They had books in the classroom-but there was no formal reading instruction. The other classroom received extensive instruction in reading. After 3 years the classroom that did science was far ahead of the reading classroom. This evidence supports another author I have been reading. His name is John Holt. The book I am currently reading from him is called Teach your own. I am also reading The first year of Homeschooling your child by Linda Dobson, The Five love languages by Gary Chapman, two little books I love- Mudpies to Magnets by Robert Williams, and Homeschooling Methods by Paul Saurez. I try to get in a chapter of each every night. The Mudpies to Magnets are super fun! They are practical science projects to do with kids- age 2 and up. On Friday we learned about Calcium carbonate as it reacts with vinegar- using an egg, and watching the shell dissolve. I plan to follow that with some floating raisins, and a volcano. I highly recommend these books whether you home-school or not.
The other books are really informative, teaching me things I didn't know I didn't know.
As I read and learn, our home-school is starting to look a lot less like an 8-3 classroom and a lot more like an eternal life of learning. I love this quote from Bruce R. Mckonkie
“… it must eventually come to pass in the case of They must know mathematics; they must know all the principles of science; they must be prepared in all things—by learning, by study, by faith—to comprehend these principles of eternal truth, even as our Father in heaven comprehends them; and
I love this New Era article from August of 1974 http://www.lds.org/new-era/1974/08/seek-ye-out-of-the-best-books?lang=eng
It pretty much sums up how I hope to facilitate a love of learning in my home. When I learn about the stars, the sea, and even the sanctity of life, I can't help but feel that our Heavenly Father gave us this amazing classroom that my family was missing out on, in a public school. I know homeschooling is not for everyone, but it is working tremendously well for us.