- At Home
I’m a relaxed mother, sometimes maybe too much so. I try never to panic and I have been forced to learn how to cope with the unexpected.
So when the head of their school told me just weeks before the school year's end that there would NOT be a class to offer my younger children next year (due to lack of students), I didn’t throw a private school parent tantrum. I believe that life throws you curve balls from time to time, and what matters most is how you decide to play them.
That was the beginning of our very controversial decision to keep our kids home until kindergarten and homeschool them. That's right - I have two older kids in private school and now two kids are homeschooled.
Call me crazy, but it works perfectly for us!
No, I am not the teacher - that would be impossible with my professional life and patience! Instead, I called up the teacher from their school who was going to lose her job because of the downsizing, and asked if she would be my homeschool teacher. We invited two of my girlfriend's children who were in the same class and now also school-less! It really was a win-win for everyone. My playroom/basement immediately got a facelift and was transformed into a natural home classroom.
What about socialization? The only response I can offer is that my kids are actively involved in extracurricular activities like soccer and dance, and they have two older siblings to work out life issues with, not to mention our huge family of young cousins that they see frequently.
They have some cool friends from all walks of life, and make tons more during our travels. What started out as a solution to an unexpected dilemma has turned out to be a blessing in disguise….welcome to my story! Believe it or not, our home school is about as challenging and chaotic, yet normal, as it can be.
Although I'm choosing to educate my children outside of the usual regimen of a school classroom, it doesn't mean that they will not be well adjusted, or prepared for the many years of stressful education to come. In fact, watching their two older sisters go through the private school system has made me want to keep them home longer.
My kids have a set schedule just like any school, but thankfully it starts at 9:30 not 8 a.m. so I don’t have to rush and stress them out during the first part of the day.
This is what our basement classroom looks like:
I pack lunches just like before, and on some days we cook together and learn about the importance of all the food groups.
They are learning age appropriate skills to prep them for the next grade, should we choose to go back to the public system. They have an art area, science lab, reading place, and a table for all the tactile activities. One of my favorite wall spaces is the “what they said today,” which is a collection of precious quotes to be remembered!
One day a week they have a yoga teacher who comes over to teach them how to connect with their bodies.
One day a week they walk to our local library and discover new interests and check out their own books. The kids are building a habitat for Rain’s turtle that she worked very hard for. It’s her reward for sleeping in her own bed. We want the kids to learn how to respect the animal and care for it. We are also preparing a gardening project. They will plant, care for, and enjoy the rewards of the garden throughout the seasons.
Many of our planned field trips will be to the zoo, the aquarium, the pet store, and free time at the beach. I don’t care if my kids learn the ABC’s in a room or in nature by searching for things that start with the letters "A," "B," or "C." It’s a dream, really, for them to have this opportunity.
On the contrary, my older girls are thriving in their school as well.
My daughter has ballet twice a week and Shaya has hip-hop where they interact with lots of new children, and work on all those related challenges. Rain is also playing soccer and learning how to work with others as part of a team.
I really believe all the important elements are being addressed, and honestly life is a bit simpler having them at home - one less school to schlep too! If I can be totally honest, I like to skip as much car time for my children as possible. There are far more productive things to do for a three and four old than sitting in the back of my truck!
My life is crazy busy! I have four children to care for, protect and guide. If I can keep my two little ones home to enjoy the sound of their giggles and learning experiences, I am richer for it. They also benefit, they will learn and experience all the important parts of childhood - only at home. I commend our brilliant teacher who has the patience of a saint! I was asked in an editorial interview who I admire most, and I answered, “the ones who teach my children every day” - over worked and under paid - what’s wrong with our system?!?
I gave one of those great women a job that is so important, and I know I am doing my part when my children are excited to head downstairs every day and learn.
I'm not the only one who's exploring non-traditional schooling methods! Check out our recent article on "unschooling" - No Teachers, No Classrooms, No Curriculum