Get ready….get set…..GO!

I love this time of year. I loved it when I was a kid because it meant I was able to buy new notebooks and pens and paper. New backpacks. I can get in lots of trouble at office supply stores.

I love school.

I am jealous of the kids heading off to college for the first time.  I love the environment and I love the chance to read and to take in new things.

I love what we are doing now with our kids…the chance to learn at home with them and to be part of the education process. I love picking out the curriculum and this year I am enjoying developing our own Bible curriculum. I have learned a few things from our first year of homeschool last year, and I am eager to see what we learn this year.

So, as we are just about to jump back in…it is time to open up the discussion once again. I’d love to hear from friends about what has worked and about what you have learned in the last year. What worked, and what did not work. You can share about big things like curriculum or little things like tweaks you made to your schedule.

A couple things I learned this last year:

1. I’m going to mess up.  There are going to be days I simply am going to be irritated and we are not going to get through the material. There are going to be days where I cannot get all the kids on the same page, and that will be okay. Some times we have to just chalk it up to a bad day and move on; other times we have to pull it together and redeem the day.  Either way we have, myself and the kids, have to learn to have grace for one another and for ourselves.

2. The kids will learn something. We will not get to the end of the year and find out that they didn’t learn anything. They’ll pick up something, and probably a lot. We have to do our best and set the table well, but we also have to not stress too much.  They are getting loads of individual attention, and are getting opportunities to investigate things they are interested in and excited about. Those things are going to sink in. Let them chase those things some. Along those lines, my middle boy is taking conversational Italian on Rosetta. No, we do not know anyone who speaks conversational Italian, but I bet he’ll find someone one of these days!

3. Find people smarter than I am and ask them lots of questions. I do not know everything I need to know to educate my children. I do not know all I need to know to keep Zachary on track for entering Middle School and High School. There are a lot of people who do know. I can find them. I can ask them questions, and they are more than willing to answer my questions. That helps me immensely, and in turn helps my kids out. This also shows my kids I’m willing to learn and not afraid to show that I have areas where I need to learn.

4. When I am excited the kids get excited.  The days when I whipped the books out, was irritated and just wanted to get through the material, everyone was miserable. We griped and we yelled at each other and none of us learned anything. The days when we were interested and when I was excited about what we were learning we laughed and we had a good time and we were relaxed. This usually happened on the days when I was able to get up early enough to have a cup of coffee in silence and spend some time in prayer and in quiet before the day began. I have more to write about this, but that will be in another post.

5. This season will be gone to quickly. We all say it, we all know, but we need to repeat it. Again. And again. It’s a privilege to be around these kids. Every day. Even the crappy days. Spending the day reading together and learning…is a pretty great thing.  I hope I can keep that at the forefront of my thoughts this year.

6. I am not, and probably never will, be crafty. Pinterest does not help this.  I love the stuff I find on Pinterest. I’ll go a week and do a bunch of the stuff. Then I get tired.  Then I feel slightly guilty and life goes back to a bit of a routine of laundry and cleaning up after kids and kittens and dogs and fish. That keeps me busy enough to not get to the painting with salt and baking soda and food coloring. Still..I do hope to do some of the creative things this year…I just won’t get too carried away.

7. Books, and especially novels, are fantastic. Reading aloud to children is one of the best things in the world and can never be rushed.  One of the curriculums we used, Sonlight, is heavy on reading. I love this. We did a lot of reading, and a lot of reading out loud. I love this. The kids love this. It never gets old. This will always be part of our structure.

8. I have to be a little bit mean. I realized this first after coming back from vacation in California. This was the one thing about home school I didn’t realize. Because you are not going away to school there has to be some sense of structure that separates the school day from the play of vacation or weekend (I have some friends who don’t do this and who incorporate school into all of life…I haven’t been able to get there, but that is awesome if you can make that work). So, for us, I have to be a bit mean and a bit structured to get the kids attention and then we can have fun. There’s a spiritual lesson in there somewhere…first discipline, then freedom…..

Okay…those are a few of my ‘lessons’. Tell me yours. Tell me your hints. Tell me your ideas. Tell dreads and your hopes for the coming years. I know I have a few friends diving in for the first time this year…ask questions if you have them. I’d love to hear some discussion here. Or are we all old hats at this with nothing new to say?