Learning to Let Go

By Jennifer Sikora

I am so excited that I was given this opportunity to share our homeschooling experience with you. We are currently in our second year and looking forward to many more years to come. My husband, Stephen, and I share the teaching responsibilities in our homeschool. Our kids, Robert (14) and Kayla (11), love homeschooling more than anything in this world. I am so blessed to have kids who love to learn and get excited about new topics that we are going to be discussing. However, it was not this way several months ago.

Back in August, when we were just beginning our new school year, I thought I had everything figured out. I had decided that our family was going to learn like we were “supposed” to learn. I had purchased a complete boxed curriculum set for each child, and I just “knew” we were going to be learning so much together.

Fast forward about a month later. The kids and I both were stressed from all the busy work that the workbooks and textbooks demanded. We were schooling from about eight o’clock in the morning until about four o’clock in the afternoon, with little or no break time. I knew something had to happen quickly, before their love for homeschooling was gone! I received the Summer 2008 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and was formally introduced to Miss Charlotte Mason and her methods of homeschooling. I sold every single textbook and workbook that I had purchased for the kids for school and jumped straight in with both feet into learning her methods of teaching.

Since we have been using the Charlotte Mason method, our school days run much more smoothly. At first I was hesitant, because with Charlotte Mason, you spend only about twenty minutes on each topic. Her idea is that kids need more outdoor time to play and discover. This was not something that I had been accustomed to, but I soon learned that shorter amounts of study time resulted in better retention of the material.

Even though our kids are about three years apart in age, we tend to keep them on the same subjects for the most part. The only subject that they don’t study together is math. We currently use Math-U-See and are loving all that it has to offer. The hands-on approach was definitely what our kids needed in order to really grasp some of the most common basic math facts. We plan on continuing with Math-U-See all the way through high school.

For English, I like Analytical Grammar. We are currently using the junior version for both Robert and Kayla so that they can get a good understanding of parts of speech and diagramming basics. Because our kids come from a public/private school background, their grammar skills were not up to par. It has been awesome to watch them both come alive while discovering why a noun is a noun and learning how linking verbs, helping verbs, and action verbs differ.

We are using Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. for science. I really like the layout of their curriculum. All the experiments use regular household items, which makes for an easy fit into a one-income family budget. The lessons are easy to follow, and Robert and Kayla enjoy helping each other with experiments and lessons.

Our Bible time is spread out in two different areas. We have devotions every morning before school, and then on Sunday evenings, as a family, we do Bible study together. Right now, we are currently studying the book of Proverbs from chapter one to chapter thirty-one.

For history, we are doing free unit studies that we find on the Internet. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine offers free unit studies through their E-Newsletters. We have studied American Indians, inventors, Presidents, black history, and many important historical eras.

For geography, we are using A Child’s Geography: Explore The Holy Land by Ann Voskamp. This has been a really good study for the kids. They have enjoyed learning about all the cultural and religious differences in other countries.

For reading and spelling we use Ambleside Online. They have done a tremendous job of putting together classical, living book lists that can be accessed free of charge. Robert and Kayla have found a love for reading that they have never had before. I love watching Robert’s face light up as he becomes engrossed in an adventure book. Kayla has really gotten into those mystery novels!

To supplement our studies, we take lots of field trips and nature walks. We do notebooking, journaling, and projects that might include building or sewing. We also get together with other homeschooling families. We have recently decided to learn about all the aspects of cooking and hospitality and are calling it our “Home Economics” class.

Our days of school are filled with fun, laughter, and learning. Each day brings new challenges that we embrace with the grace of God. I have learned that the best way to teach our kids is to let go and allow God to teach through me. There is no right or wrong way to teach your child when God is in the lead and you are allowing Him to steer you in the right direction.

Jennifer Sikora, a homeschooling mother of two, is very passionate about a woman’s walk with God. She and her husband, Stephen, have been born again Christian believers for nine years now. They are in their second year of homeschooling and are planning to homeschool all the way through high school. God has been speaking to Jennifer’s heart about sharing with other women her daily struggles and triumphs through her writing. You can check out some of her devotionals and stories at www.belikeesther.blogspot.com.Jennifer loves spending time in God’s Word, reading, cooking, quilting, and spending time with her family doing outdoor activities. Jennifer and Stephen have been married for fifteen years and have two children, Robert (14) and Kayla (11), and two sweet little dogs, Ruffles the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Puff their adorable Poodle.

Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2009.

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