Homeschooling: A year in review

Smiley scotsFirst grade here I come!

Anders last day of school

on to pre-school!

Chiara with Pitcher

Working on breaking those teeth- hence the juicy chin! 

Magic School Bus Class 1
Scotland’s Magic School Bus Class showing off the insects they made.

presenting bugs

Scotland’s Magic school bus teacher, Erin Zackey, dresses up like Ms. Frizz- wearing clothing that coordinates with what they’re studying that week! She’s amazing!

Pict with ms Trish

Scotland’s Storybook Stem teacher, Ms. Trish. He loved all the building challenges in this class. 

Today marks the last official day of our first year of homeschooling. I’ve felt  emotional all day, in that can’t-quite-place-it, sort of way. This year has been truly life changing, at least I hope so. I am a different person, mother, and teacher now, than I was nine months ago. This year has been ripe with self examination and goal setting. I’ve had to grapple with my weaknesses as a mother and face them fully. I’ve questioned my priorities weekly, and found peace and delight in a lifestyle quite other than I was living last year. My respect and confidence in motherhood has grown, and I rarely struggle with feelings of fulfillment as a mother anymore. As I’ve devoted this year to the education and raising of my children, I have let go of many things- my house is generally less clean, organized, and decorated- but we use it more. I’ve been less social, and yet oddly, I haven’t felt lonely because I’ve felt more oneness and companionship with my children. I’ve been more upset, frustrated, and angry at times, because I feel more passionate and determined. I guess, I feel like, this year, we have made more progress towards living the ‘dream’ I had for my family, than I’ve made before. In the past I’ve struggled to really engage with my kids for longer than short periods. I’d sit down and ask them questions about their LEGO creation for ten or fifteen minutes, or play a few minutes of cars but then I’d be off, cleaning here, cooking there. I’d look back on the day and be the most proud of those moments- when I truly connected, and often truly enjoyed my children. I wanted to have more of those moments in my day. Yet, until, I put the pressure of schooling my children on the table, and placed that as my new priority, it was too easy to let other things rise to the forefront. Before my children, too often, felt like the obstacle, now they feel like the objective. And it’s really taken the drastic experiment, of putting most everything else on hold, to help me realize my dream of more togetherness. I love learning with my kids. I love making music with them. I love reading to them. I love seeing their eyes light up as they relay their new found knowledge. I love hearing my kids read to me. I love doing art with my kids. I love exploring the world together. Now I completely understand that not everyone might love these things. Homeschooling is certainly not for everyone. It might not be for me in a few years. Who knows. But all I can say is it has been a huge blessing to our family this year. Scotland loves to learn. He requests “hard” math problems. He takes a pile of books with him every night to bed. He asks deep questions, and requests further understanding. He’s delighted to learn about history, society, and different cultures. He jams on the piano daily, sings often, and can dive into the most imaginative world in minutes. Anders has been gifted with an invaluable “pre-preschool” environment. He loves writing, requests reading, piano, and math lessons and can discuss our read-a-louds in detail and depth. He and Scotland have formed a powerful brotherhood. Do they fight? Yes. But, how they play! Their duets on the piano, each of them belting out lyrics that build on the others, their duels and “shows.” The way they belly laugh together. They now cry if they aren’t allowed to sleep in the same room (for being too chatty too late into the night.) While typically Scotland leads and teaches, and Anders praises and follows, in the last few months (with much scaffolding) they have started to play with more equality. Yesterday, morning I heard Scotland cheering on Anders after having helped him learn how to climb a tree the day before: “Anders! Woohoo! You made it into the tree by yourself. Wow. That’s really impressive for a kid your age!” They’ve learned to compromise more and find “win-win” situations.

best brothers
Best Brothers!

kids

Anders and Chiara taking a break from LEGOS to find the letters of the alphabet with their friend, Eli. 

pict with Doreen

Anders “class” at Edmonds Heights was Lego Lab, all the bins you see behind him are full of Legos, all sorted by type. Doreen is the facilitator and Anders and Chiara adore her. He would often say “I’ll go ask Do-een!” when he couldn’t figure out how to build something. While he mostly enjoyed the one on one Mom time, he also loved making friends with Sam, Sadie, Corban, Eli, Abbie, and Elias. 

The hardest part of homeschooling has been figuring out how to work with Scotland when he gets defiant. We had some really rough patches this year. Times when Tom would suggest that perhaps we should send him to public school. Those periods have been the most revealing- and thereby transforming. Fortunately, my determination to make things work was more powerful than my frustration. I spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and praying for alternative methods of working with Scotland. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about who he is, what he needs, and how he is motivated. I’ve worked hard to overcome personal habits, tendencies, and weaknesses that have prevented me from giving him and myself the respect we deserve. Our communication has improved, and our relationship has reached new heights of mutual delight. Now, if this sounds like I’ve checked off the box of “Defiant Scotland” I’m giving the wrong impression. This is a daily struggle for us. But I have hope that the more we learn to work together now, the more equipped we both will be to continue to work together when the issues are larger and more important in the future. Most importantly, I know it’s possible; and I know how delightful it is when we come together in mutual love and respect.

Boys in the Tree

This week, Scotland taught Anders how to climb this tree.

Cute Kids

Chiara saying “Hurray for summer!” 

Chiara with car

Chiara, enjoying passing a car back and forth with a friend in the school’s breezeway.

In years past I often felt peace in my motherhood, but also felt like I wasn’t “living up to my potential.” I haven’t felt that since I started homeschooling. I feel the opposite. I have this vision for what I want our homeschool to look and function like, and if anything, it feels unsurmountable.

This post is a bit bizarre because the text focuses on our schooling experiences at home, while the pictures mostly highlight their experiences at school. We are part of a public “resource school” for homeschooling families. There Scotland took two classes (each 2x a week) to supplement our home studies. As well as a PE class through the YMCA. For me it was the perfect balance. He got the classroom experience, had teachers other than me, made great friends, and was exposed to new ideas and people without having to send him off for eight hours a day! 

 

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