Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homeschooling: Three Years In

We are nearing the end of our third year homeschooling. Wow. I can't believe how quickly that has gone by.

When we started homeschooling, BigBro was 4. I wanted to homeschool, but I wasn't sure how to do it, or even where to start. But he was only 4, and I figured that if it wasn't working, we'd just put him in kindergarten the next year.

When January came around, I went to the Kindergarten Open House at my parish school, filled with all sorts of doubts. Homeschooling seemed to be going really well. We were having fun, he was learning, and life was fairly manageable. But I wasn't sure. Were we making the right choice? Was I screwing him up? DH and I talked for weeks about it, I prayed about it, and in the end, we decided to keep on homeschooling. After all, it was working. As long as it worked, we'd keep doing it.

Kindergarten went really well. We added a little more structure to our schedule, but it was still pretty loose. When Open House time came around again, I never even considered going. Instead, I attended two homeschooling conferences and bought materials for first grade.

This year, we've been a lot more structured. BigBro spends about 2.5-3 hours a day doing book work, and I can see a big leap in his maturity and his academics. He's also becoming more independent in his schooling, and is seeking out new interests all the time. We have the occasional grumbling about school, but for the most part, he is a diligent, interested student.

The biggest change this year happened in the beginning of March, as my niece has joined our homeschool. Suddenly, I doubled my enrollment, and have had to figure out where she is in each subject. After 6 years of sitting in a desk for 7 hours a day, homeschooling is a big change for her. She says that she likes it better than traditional school. She likes the flexibility and the more relaxed schedule. But I am a more demanding teacher than she's had. The work I am giving her is much more challenging than she is used to. Not more challenging than she is capable of, but more challenging than she is used to. So, we have that adjustment going on as well.

I sit here now, anticipating next fall with a little shiver of excitment. My enrollment is growing once again. Princess will be starting kindergarten. She is already an early reader, and enjoys playing around with some basic addition concepts. It will be fun to get to explore, read, write, and calculate with her. BigBro will be in second grade (the Sacraments... whoo-hoo!), and Niece will be in sixth.

Three years ago, I wasn't sure I could homeschool one child. Now, I can't imagine any other lifestyle.

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