When I originally started my homeschool journey, I had delusions of a cute little classroom with adorable learning boards on the walls and desks neatly filled with books and pencil boxes. That is not what homeschooling is really like, at least not in the home of my family.
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My homeschooling theories have evolved
Over the years I have moved from my original philosophies on education to a broader, less strict version. Though my formal training likes to kick in on occasion, it no longer dictates my day. My first son did not get a cute little classroom simply because there was no space. For him, I originally had a dedicated spot in my bedroom where he would “do school”.
A great deal on a desk allowed me the opportunity to develop my dream into a bit of reality, but it was short lived as we moved frequently and didn’t always have space for a desk. In some homes, we set up school at the table. In others, the desks went into the bedrooms or a corner of the living room. My teaching style moved around as much as our family did.
And then came the specials that changed homeschooling for us
After adopting my twins, I began to dig deeper and learn more about how children with challenges actually learn. Though I had a good deal of training from my days at Purdue, nothing prepares a person like actually living it.
Where I used to be able to pick a curriculum and use it with small adaptations, I suddenly had piles of wasted curriculum that just didn’t work. From that point on, picking curriculum became a never ending yearly obstacle. My shelves were piled high with half-used books and unopened manipulatives.
The idea of un-schooling is very appealing
Un-schooling becomes a very appealing idea when traditional schooling brings so many problems. To be honest, I have often evaluated whether I still felt homeschooling was the best option for each of my children.
In the end, I have discovered that each child deserves an individualized education based on their abilities and interests. For some, that means a day that looks more like un-schooling. Other children need to sit at the table for some portions of the day like math and hang upside for subjects like reading.
As much as I try to keep a rigid, “let’s get done and stay focused” kind of day, reality sets in and I am forced to adjust on a daily basis. Just getting the kids out of bed is always a daily challenge. No matter what rewards or consequences I use, it just doesn’t happen the way I want it to happen.
And I am OK with homeschooling that way
The biggest lesson and best advice I could give someone is to stay focused on the reasons you homeschool. For me, there are lessons I want to be taught by Mama and not a random school teacher. As well, I want to assure my kids get the individualized education that meets their needs best. When I stay focused on these things, the specifics like where to educate are simply not important.
I actually got my dream school room at my last home, with desks and decorations. It was nice to have everything in one room, but the desks ended up being expensive storage bins for everything from doll clothes and Lego parts to numerous dried up markers and scraps of paper.
And now, we have a variety of methods in play. For my planning purposes, some material is stored in baskets in my room. The girls each keep their student materials in backpacks. My son keeps his in a pile in his room. It all works! In these old photos each child is working on their states and capitals with a puzzle meant for differing levels.
That’s what I’ve learned, do whatever works for each child! Educating my children is a big and serious responsibility, but not one that I need to work into a tizzy to accomplish. When I relax and let things happen naturally, I am a more effective teacher and more loving mama. I like it better that way.