The Reality of Homeschooling
When you are home all day, your house gets lived in. And chances are, when your house gets lived in, it will be difficult to stay on top of keeping it tidy. We homeschool in the dining room, and eat in our kitchen. There is always school stuff out. It feels pointless to put it all away when I will be taking it all out again in the morning. Sometimes, mostly Fridays, I make the effort, but it seems like there is always something that stays out on the table. Usually, by the time the kids are asleep, I’d rather curl up with a book than clear the school stuff off the table. The truth is that I can either be a good housekeeper or a good home educator, but not always both.
I procrastinated many weeks in taking the video of our homeschool space because I felt it wasn’t show worthy. I never seemed to have the time to clear the table completely or to deal with that impending tower of books and papers that needed to go somewhere. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me where that somewhere should be. Suddenly, it dawned on me that perhaps the reason I couldn’t seem to tackle this was to demonstrate that it’s okay if your house is less than perfect. I know there are homeschoolers who can keep everything self-contained and who manage to put it all away at the end of the day. That’s not me. And I am okay with that, or at least, I am trying to be. One day, when my kids are grown, I’ll have a tidy house, but I will miss the clutter that signifies a house replete with cheerful pretend play.
My husband, Javier, and I have been homeschooling since my oldest, Nadia, was a toddler. Nadia, now seven, went to a Montessori preschool part time when she was three, and we focused on Montessori at home until she turned five, at which point we transitioned to a classical education using The Well-Trained Mind as our base. I have moved more toward Charlotte Mason’s philosophies of education, and this year she is using Ambleside Online Year 2 for her history and literature.
My son Jeremy, who is five, tags along for most of the readings and does his own language arts, spelling, and math. In the fall, he will start Ambleside Online Year 1. Our favorite resources for him are a mix of Righstart, Miquon, and Singapore Math, All About Spelling, First Language Lessons, Writing With Ease, and Christian Light Education Reading. Nadia uses Rightstart, Beast Academy, and Math Mammoth, Michael Clay Thompson Grammar, All About Spelling, and Classical Academic Press’ writing and Latin resources.
We chose to homeschool for a mix of reasons. Mostly, it was because our daughter taught herself to read very early, and it seemed pointless to send her to preschool where they focused on a letter, color, and shape each week. Though I had always dreamed of homeschooling even before having children, I don’t know that I would have been brave enough had it not been for our precocious daughter. Every year I seem to entertain the idea of sending them to school, and we always tour a school and start paperwork. Every year I do this. And every year God tells me it isn’t time to stop homeschooling.
The reality of homeschooling is that it is hard. I want a cleaner, tidier house. I want time to run errands without kids. I want time to sip tea and read a magazine, or work on my blog uninterrupted. I want to spend time with my kids without fighting the endless math tears. But there’s a season for everything. Homeschooling is extremely special. I will never get this time back, and I am so blessed that I get to spend so much time with my children. The grass is not really greener in the private school. There are positives and negatives to any choice.
The reality of homeschooling is that the precious moments make up for the trying ones. Just like a newborn is insanely adorable, and that cuteness gets you through the sleepless nights and endless diaper changes, the splendid homeschool moments tide you over when the going gets rough. I am also truly blessed with the most supportive and helpful husband, who does more than his fair share of the dishes so that I can relax at the end of the day, even though he is just as tired as I am. He supports our homeschooling one hundred percent and teaches the children programming and Spanish.
While trying to convince the kids that it is time to start school isn’t always easy, (the key to success in that is sticking to a routine in which everything happens in a certain order on a regular basis) we at least don’t have to rush to get ready for the day. We can take our time over breakfast and linger over morning prayers and poems. I usually eat more quickly than they do and we start our memory work over breakfast. I am always amazed at how quickly they can memorize long poems and history sentences. We pull our memory work from a variety of sources.
Our curriculum is heavy in literature. How incredible to see the connections my children make when we read books. And I love that I get to be the first to see the light turn on when they truly get something. We get to take specialized field trips that truly relate to what we are studying. We can take vacation when school is still in session. We can spend so much time reading the literature we really want to read instead of being tied to a school’s reading list.
I appreciate being able to have control over my kids’ education. My children are so used to their mother turning everything into a learning opportunity, they don’t bat an eye and in fact even point out learning opportunities themselves. Every year we go to the beach, and we spend time doing nature and science studies without the vacation ever feeling like it is school. We can pause school on a glorious day that’s warm as melted butter, and go ride bikes and play outside. Then we can catch up the missed afternoon on the next dreary, rainy Saturday.
I’ll probably always daydream of sending the kids to school once a year, but the reality of homeschooling is that, for our family, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Julie Cerdas was born in Quebec, Canada and now lives in the southeastern United States. She loves God, her handsome husband, her two beautiful children and taking walks in the woods. Julie blogs about home education at Nurturing Learning.
Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Summer 2015. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.