Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Balancing Act

So our family just got over a stomach bug...yeah... It actually was not as terrible as ones we've had in the past. So far Hailey is the only one that has not gotten it and hopefully it will stay that way.
With the time I've had away from schooling the last couple of days I've really had a chance to sit back and mull over how homeschooling is going for us.

In the homeschooling community, I feel like there are two extremes. On one end you have the idea that homeschooling should look and feel exactly like a regular school with the pledge of allegiance, seat work, and so on. On the other end you have the "unschooling" philosophy which essentially is strictly interest-based learning...throw the curriculum out the window and see where the day takes you. I'm trying to figure out where the pendulum falls for us as a family. The last several weeks I have really struggled with balance. Most of life is a balancing act so homeschooling really isn't any different.

Fortunately, with homeschooling, you can kind of make it look like what you want it to look like. Initially I would say if traditional school at home were 0 and "unschooling" were 10, I would land somewhere around 7. I like the idea of interest-based learning. It makes
sense and I think it works with our personalities and the phase of life we are in. However, I need structure. I need a lesson plan for the day. I need curriculum. I like being creative but I do need an idea of what to teach the kids. I also need an idea of what the day is going to look like. We have always worked off of a schedule and it's what our kids are used to...and it works for us.
That being said, I need to figure out how to make this work. Seriously. It's not that it isn't working for me at all. Some days are great. I feel like we accomplished things. Other days...not so much.

I've done quite a bit of research and here are some things I am working on right now to try to make this work better...
-Establishing a rhythm- I know that the times homeschooling has worked the best for us have been when we had a rhythm to the day. Not necessarily a schedule...just a rhythm. This is a struggle for the phase of life we are in with an almost 2-year-old (enough said!) But I do know it is very important for me and the kids to have some consistencies to our days.
-Planning, Planning, Planning- I really need to do a better job of reviewing the curriculum a couple of weeks ahead of time. If I know what is coming up I can do a better job of  "going with the flow." I'm a big picture person so if I know what the big picture is I can plan our days and weeks around what we are to learn- I say we because I have actually learned a lot this year =)
-Incorporating the younger two- (Instead of just trying to preoccupy them) Some days this is easier, some days not so much. Most days Caleb just wants to go outside and play (Me too, me too!)) and Jaidyn usually just likes to destroy things =) But I know it is doable. So if I plan better I can plan things that all three can do. Yesterday I worked with Hailey on math using unifix cubes. Caleb and Jaidyn started off counting with us but then Caleb started making a race track with them and Jaidyn took some and started stacking them over and over again. So it was a win for today. I need to try to incorporate them in at least one activity a day.

This past week has been off for us because of sickness, but I hope to start implementing these things in the weeks to come. I keep reminding myself that this is a phase. The ages our kids are now are fun ages, but they have their challenges and it will (hopefully) get easier as they get a little older. I think the important thing for me to remember is my kids are a gift and the ability to homeschool them is a gift and and I need to cherish them and daily ask God to help me walk through that day with love and grace and wisdom. And take one day at a time...

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