Several years back I described our homeschool as a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach.
We probably lean more in both of those directions, but I am finding more and more we are very eclectic. We use *everything* to school, focusing on living books for most things, but preferring a math curriculum, and a bit more structure than unschooling.
But, I am not here to talk about how we school.
I am here to encourage you in however YOU school.
I don’t prescribe to a “schedule” for our lessons; we have a general rhythm, a routine, that works. The baby’s naps and feeding times are schedule, as are all other naps and meals. Everything works around that.
Routine = peace here.
But recently (maybe since baby was born? or no… since Christmas?) I have stopped requiring so much of my son, 4.5yo and toddler, 2.5yo. I *thought* I was doing more justice to their childhood by not doing school so much with them and letting them play freely all morning.
*INSERT EYE ROLL HERE*
Yall- people mean well, friends, fellow homeschoolers, ME, we all mean well.
But just because someone says that it works for them, and they believe it is best, doesn’t mean that it is best for your family.
I have high expectations of my kids, as I am sure most people do. I believe kids meet the expectations that we lay in front of them. Expectations should be challenging but not frustrating; not easy, but still something they need to put effort into. They should also include lots of play. It’s so important to make sure children have a good work/play balance. When homeschooling, it can be more difficult to do this, but there are always ways to separate schoolwork from playtime. When it is time for the kids to relax, try doing something they want to do, such as going on the games console and playing super smash bros brawl iso, for example. That is a good way for children to enjoy their time at home, without it feeling like a place where they have to be constantly focused on their schoolwork.
Somehow in the past few months I managed to forget that play CAN look like school, and that school can look like play without it being chaotic free play.
One of the main points taught in my teaching program, which was largely spent logging hours and observations in the preschool room in our University’s child center, is that play can be semi-structured. Play can be guided by an adult with rules and boundaries, but enjoyed freely by a child.
And explorative play can be controlled chaos. (thank you for that term, college professor who had years of classroom experience)
you I have 4 kids, each 2 years a part, by golly, we need some dang boundaries, structure within the routine.
I can’t expect a 4 and 2yo to stay inside those boundaries completely on their own every day while I school the oldest. (I know- DUH, right?) But somehow I stopped doing what I know, and began doing what others said was good?!
My point is, please, please, please do not let anyone, even well meaning friends or acquaintances, make you feel like you are doing something wrong because they are justifying or suggesting how they do things.
When You Doubt … or Forget
Re evaluate your own goals and beliefs about education- they probably don’t line up exactly with many other people, and that is okay! That’s why we homeschool, right?
When I looked around our home (and reflected on recent days) I realized we ALL felt chaotic and out of control, there was unnecessary stress and behaviors that didn’t make sense, and it all pointed back to structure for us.
Instead of heeding advice from people who don’t need the same structure we do I should have just kept on with what we were doing, because THAT works for us.
We are happy in our structured, eclectic homeschooling home; my kids excel there, my only boy who is not so independent all of the time feels included and it keeps him from getting bored (aka, in trouble), they all get more time with mama at the table which equals happiness. It’s where we learn, where we find rabbit holes and I feel comfortable enough to follow them because I have a structure to come back to.
Our home is structured, but our days are relaxed and peaceful when my kids know what to expect (oh my gosh, how many times have I written that on this blog?! Maybe 25 … maybe more).
So why did I stray from what I knew the last few months?
I can’t say with certainty. But I do know, that sometimes you have to block out the noise and seeds of doubt no matter where they come from. Stay the course and do what works, as long as it true and good.
Maybe I am just writing this as a reminder to myself, because it will surely happen again.
We really don’t need others validations, we really should do what works for us, and the more we know our children the better we can educate them, regardless of what that looks like from the outside.
So here we are mamas, almost to the end of the school year for many (we keep going through June). Be encouraged, be excited, enjoy your time with your children.
Know you are doing it right.
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