I used to get asked "how do you handle having 3 small kids all the time?!" - which I thought was a funny question, because to me, 3 kids doesn't seem like that many.
The new question is "you homeschool 2 of your kids? AND you have a toddler?! are you crazy?!" I'd love to feel totally sane when I answer this question, but I often have to be 100% honest and tell them "yeah, somedays I feel totally crazy." Mostly because those are the days I try to do too much, or I forget my kids are only in Kindergarten/ 1st grade, pre-K and barely pre-school age. I have days where I forget college isn't just around the corner and we can actually enjoy the benefits of home schooling and just bake all day and play educational board games. Or play store; my 3 kids love to play store. Ethan is the cashier, because it helps him with addition and subtraction, Rachel is learning how to add and subtract by putting items into her cart - adding them all up, then taking 1 or 2 out and giving me the new total. Kara just loves to fill her bag full of toys and play food and then gets to the cash register and orders her "iced americano with half 'n' half" - without fail. Makes us laugh every time.

Here's the thing about schooling at home. I feel like I've been teaching my kids from the day they were born... so in many ways, starting actual school work hasn't felt like a huge change or something major in our lives. It just feels like we're still walking down the same path we've taken since they were babies, but in a more structured way. Think about when your child was around 6-12 months old. Think about all the things they learn... from you! It was all 'schooling', we just don't call it that when they're babies, because we're not obsessed ;-)

What I find to be the hardest part about school at home {for us right now} is the ages Ethan and Rachel are at. Six and four-and-a-half are challenging ages with school. Ethan is into some 'heavier' subjects now, that need a lot of my time and attention. Lots of experiments and reading and explaining things.
Rachel is just learning about penmanship, simple math work, basic reading and lots of art projects. So her work also takes my attention most of the time. What I've been doing is breaking up those days. On the days where Ethan does subjects that will need a lot of my attention, Rachel does more of her 'fun' work, as we call it. And vise-versa.  It does make me wonder how teachers do this successfully with up to 30 kids in a classroom! I guess this is why you have so much home work these days ;-)
A friend recently reminded me that most of school is play time, socializing time, and transitioning many children from one thing to the next takes a lot of time as well. That little bit of information definitely helped me to chill out.
My kids socialize a lot. I think they'd die if they weren't able to be social. You do remember who their parents are, right?! :)
I've always thought school is more about learning and less about socializing. That would be after school playtime, or during field trips, sports, church and other activities. Not to mention just the time they spend playing with neighbor kids and socializing with each other throughout the day.

So I'm learning. I think its what I love about school at home... I get to learn too! Its fun to see how its changing me quite a bit and to see how it changes the structure and layout of our days. Its easy to get disorganized and lazy, even with home schooling, but I'm learning if I keep a schedule, keep a routine and keep it FUN, we all enjoy it and its totally worth the effort and time put in.
I mostly just love the experiences I'm getting to have with my kiddos. I love the memories we're making and I really enjoy the fact that what they learn, I'm re-learning. 

Today we played 2 games that I am now a huge fan of and wanted to share with you. My Mom sent both of them to us; one was a Christmas gift for the kids and the other was an extra game she had in her class where she teaches. Both are awesome and what I love most is, with a little help, Kara can play too!

1. Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye found it!

2. "Wh" Bingo {sorry, no picture on this one} -answer the "wh" questions for five in a row! What, Where, Who, When and Why! 
This game not only teaches them how to read these sight words, but also teaches them basic question asking and finding answers to their questions.

Raising kids is a full time 'job'. For us, school at home is just part of that adventure. I still get breaks, no worries. I think that's the main concern - "when do you ever get time to do what YOU need to do?!"
And this is where getting up before the kids do, to get my chores done, to start prepping dinner for that night, and to have quiet alone time is very important. On the days when I pop out of bed at the same time my kids do, those days don't flow smoothly at all. I'm always feeling 2 hours behind and like a crazy mess.
The teacher that I report to always reminds me that when you do school at home, you can make most things educational. Help them prepare dinner with you, taking walks outside and learning about nature, even house hold chores are very educational. A trip to the grocery store can become quite educational, a visit to the Doctor's office can too! Everyone can do these things - just ask the Dr. to explain to your kids what his tools are for, how they help him, what the inside of their ears look like, why they have the sickness they have, what are germs, etc... Our Doctor does an excellent job with simplifying his medical lingo and helping the kids to understand exactly what he's saying - often pointing to his chart or the body chart on the wall, showing them where their germs are and how the medicine {or extra sleep and water at home} will help.

Its all pretty basic and can actually be loads of fun, but I think we moms have to purpose to see things through their young minds and make it fun. We could probably easily ruin the joys of school at home.
I also get a kick out of telling moms who's kids go to school, that they too do school at home. Because even if your kids are at school all day, you're still the teacher when they come home!
If you're a mom that does school at home with your kids, remember to ask those 'older' more seasoned ladies lots of questions! I've never been told "I don't have time." or "I don't know" when I ask. They always have lots of insight and really good ideas for me. What I love most about asking other ladies is, you'll get very different advice from each one - which is called 'variety' {a word Ethan has been learning about this week} and I like variety :)

So wherever your family finds time for education at home; whether its full time or after school stuff, remember to enjoy it, make fun memories and enjoy the learning you'll be doing as well! :)

7 {comments}:

Jessica said...

Excellent excellent post!!! :) So insightful, Stef. And you WILL be hearing questions from ME in a few years to come. ;)

Jason said...

Thanks for all this work you do raising our kids! There's so much here that even escapes my notice :)

Carrie said...

I had no idea you did the home schooling thing! Good for you. Seattle is an excellent place for that. There is SO much to do around town. Parent Map has a great section in the back that lists some great, free or almost free things. One day you should check out Scratch Patch near Green Lake. My kids LOVED it, can't go now, no way to nix the germs. :-(
Oh, well, it will be an after cancer thing!
Btw, it is SO cute that your husband reads your blog. Huge bonus points, Jason!

Stef said...

Thanks my Love. I couldn't do it without your support and help!

Carrie, I need to find more home schoolers here, but part of me likes that most of our kids friends aren't home schooled. I don't want to raise them in a weird commune type lifestyle ;-)
We do know a few home schooling families that live really close to us, but I'm looking into where to go on field trips and such with other home schooling families. Only because right now we go on field trips with public schools and its SO over crowded and crazy... my kids end up getting totally ignored and stuck in the back.

Melissa Joy said...

I agree with a lot of your points here, and found this a fun read. :) I kind of laugh when people ask me if I am doing preschool with my kiddo: because I don't think he is "pre" anything! He's been fully homeschooled since the day he was born. :)

Gina said...

Too many parents discredit the fact that they are thier kids' first teachers. We teach our children SO much naturally, why is homeschooling such a big thing to so many people? Anyway, great post. If you want to find local homeschoolers, check out Yahoo groups. That's how the Brentwood homeschoolers hook up for field trips and other fun stuff. There's got to be someone in your area. Kudos to Jason too for adding sugar to this thread. :-)

Stef said...

thanks Gina! I'll do that.


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