We decided to home school the small one this year. First grade didn’t seem too challenging for us to teach and the disaster that was kindergarten left us feeling as though we needed to know exactly how much he knew and how he learned. However. We both work. Full time. Not the traditional home schooling model. Although the more I learn about it, the more it seems there is no traditional model. All summer we’ve been asked how we’re going to manage. And for a portion of the summer we wondered ourselves.
Finn has a job which requires him to frequently work nights and weekends. I have flex hours, although I still have quite a bit of traditional office time I’m committed to. This schedule flexibility, combined with the knowledge that for first grade most homeschooling families spend approximately 60-90 minutes on the actual “school” portion of the day made us feel like, with a little outside help, we could make this work. We’ve hired a sitter to cover the days we both work and we’re keeping a very open mind about this experience.
I have a ton of books, as you can see. The most helpful one, in terms of understanding how we could accomplish this, was Susan Bauer’s The Well Trained Mind. I highly recommend it for all parents, as there is so much to be learned outside of school. Facebook conversations with several homeschooling friends led me to purchase a math curriculum called Singapore Math and a learn to read book Teach your child to read in 100 lessons. These two items will form the basis of our curriculum, along with copy work and journaling for writing skills, lots of reading time, hands-on science units (he wants to study bugs first), art projects, music lessons, weekly history readings (as a family, because the tall one enjoys this too) and a variety of field trips. Many of these are things we do anyway in the course of parenting. We’re also much more conscious of how we incorporate learning intentionally into our everyday activities. Things like finding ways to incorporate math skills while cooking or taking walks, structuring conversations so that we learn about his reading comprehension and inferencing skills while we read our chapter books and creating and testing his knowledge of how the world works and finding new questions to explore in museums, out on walks or just building with legos. We’ve added a couple of museum memberships to the rotation (Chicago has such amazing museum resources). And we’ve joined the local home school co-op, which meets weekly for enrichment and play.
I’m not going to lie, its daunting. Not just the lessons, but the level of coordination its taking between the two of us (three really, as the sitter has some duties, such as gym, reading, etc). It would certainly be easier if just one of us was doing everything. But there is also great value in being able to each offer our strengths. We’ll see how it goes. He needs some speech therapy for a lisp and we’ll be seeking services for that, as well as gym and music at our local school, which allows home schoolers to come in for specials. I’m not even remotely worried about this “socialization” thing, although Finn is more concerned. We’re not religious, so there’s not a built-in group there. But there are plenty of neighborhood kids and other friends, as well as the new group from the home school co-op and other activities. I feel about this socialization concern much like I felt about our extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping when they were little, that those who are concerned are generally those who have chosen a different way of raising their children (not criticizing other ways, just that I think we tend to judge what we don’t know).
I’m curious, how many of you home school your children? Any advice? Any questions?