Wednesday, March 24, 2010
3:58 AM | Edit Post
Once again, the devil on my shoulder--the ugly one that says "You're not a very good homeschooling mom!"--has reared his disgusting head.
A couple of nights ago, I was getting ready for a get-together with a group of friends, a full third of whom are school teachers. In my pregnant-hormonal state, I imagined myself (or one of my kids) being asked the dreaded question...
"So, What did you do for school today?"
They would ask it innocently enough, but it would be the question that exposed me for the sorry excuse for a teacher that I am. What did I do for school today??
The worst possible scenario, of course, would be for my five-year-old to chime in,
"We didn't do any school today!"
Let me find a hole in a corner somewhere to crawl into. (Lest you think that this is unlikely and I am exaggerating, our barber asked him during a recent haircut if he went to school, and he flatly told her "no".)
Why did the possibility of this question send me into a panic, you ask? Because, in my mind, I didn't think we really had done school that day.
I mean, we didn't do math, and everyone knows that a school day without math is really no school day at all!
Okay...stop. Really? Is the fact that I hadn't done math the honest-to-goodness reason I didn't feel as though I had "done school"? What's going on here?
Here's the truth of it:
A lot of days, I feel as though I haven't really "done school". Math makes me feel as though I have "done school" because it is the one piece of "real" curriculum I am using right now. "Real", as in, I spent "real" money on it, and it has a teacher manual, a workbook with pages to do each day, and a video to watch every week.
You know, real school.
A-haa...now we're getting somewhere!
Am I kidding myself? Is not one of the reasons I chose homeschooling that I didn't want the conventional school model for my children? Do I not, by and large, despise canned curriculum, busy work, and twaddle? Why am I beating myself up for not doing something that I actually do not want to do???
Oh, how 13 years of public education has shaped me!
As I thought about it a little bit, I realized that I indeed had educated my children that day. "Done school"? Maybe not, but I had educated them!
Here are my less-than-conventional school achievements from that day:
- I read two chapters of Little Town on the Prairie out loud, snuggled in bed with the children, before breakfast.
- During breakfast, we listened to an MP3 I downloaded from sermonaudio.com of Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis, speaking to a group of children about dinosaurs, creation, and the flood. Once they were finished eating, the children drew pictures of dinosaurs as they listened. (All eight audio files from the 2009 Answers in Genesis conference are available for free download here. The children's message is #5).
- On this MP3, Ken Ham mentioned the platypus, and how it confuses evolutionists. The kids started asking questions about platypuses because of the funny and engaging way Mr. Ham described the creatures. After the MP3 was over, we went to the computer and found a video of platypuses on YouTube. It was great, because they got to see platypuses swimming and waddling around in the wild, and hear evolutionists sound confused about them!
- The children then had some free playtime to themselves while I put the baby down for his nap. Asher built a village out of Lincoln Logs, and Acacia unloaded her entire bookshelf onto her bed (sigh). At least she enjoyed her books!
- After lunch, we went for a walk together. We got some much-needed exercise and sunshine, and we practiced following directions, staying close to mom, and looking both ways before we cross the street.
- When we came back from our walk, we spent most of the afternoon outside in the backyard. I read a book (to myself!) while the children dug in the sandbox (finding horse chestnuts that the squirrels had burried), rode their bikes, and ran around in the grass. And, no, we didn't do any worksheets, art projects, science experiments, or nature journals. We just enjoyed being outdoors.
- When it was time that we finally really must come indoors, the younger children napped while I made dinner. Asher helped me out with a few things, and then settled down to read (by himself, without prompting) until dinner was done. Incidentally, my children ate three homemade meals that day. They are learning that food is more than calories and convenience. We are not doomed to a life of breakfast cereals, school lunches, fast food and frozen pizzas. I am forming their palates, teaching them to make good nutritional choices, and giving them the blessing of eating real food.
- My children also did their share of age-appropriate chores that day. Whether it was helping put away laundry, setting the table, or putting away their toys, they are learning the blessings of work.
- Over dinner, we talked. What about, you ask? Honestly, I don't really remember. I think Asher asked about a river in Brazil on his globe (which still lives on the dining room table, by the way). I know they asked a lot of other questions, too. It's amazing what children learn when their parents actually take the time to answer their questions.
- After dinner, we drove into town for a baby shower (the aforementioned get-together with friends). We "socialized" with whole families--moms, dads, babies and children of various ages. This is more realistic "socialization" than a classroom full of 25 five-year-olds will ever be.
- On the way home, Asher asked for a crash-course in supply-and-demand economics and the real estate downturn. Okay, not in so many words, but he did ask for it...and I gave it to him. I think he even understood it.
- At bedtime, we snuggled, read our Story Bible, and prayed. We read about the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea in the Old Testament, and the empty tomb in the New Testament. Of all the things I do or teach in a day, this is what is most important. This is what I live for.
So, that was my day. I challenge you to do this kind of thing yourself every once in a while. I think you'll be surprised at how much you teach your children without "doing school"!
Oh...you may be wondering...did any of my school teacher friends ask me what we did for school that day? Nope.
One of them did tell me how smart my daughter is, and wondered aloud if she could read the whole dictionary yet. I sheepishly replied that well, actually, I'm sure she would be reading already if I were more diligent in sitting down and teaching her, but I haven't been, so no, she isn't reading yet.
They all looked at my like I was nuts.
"Are you kidding, with everything you have on your plate? She's not even four yet!"
I then realized, once again, that I have a lot higher standards for myself than other people do. The standards that I assume they are judging me by are completely imagined on my part.
So, off my shoulder, ugly devil! I am not a bad homeschooling mom. By God's grace, and with His help, I am doing what He has called me to do.
And, I am so blessed.
- I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.
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- ▼ March (4)
Our Curriculum 2010-2011
Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Literature--Ambleside Online Year 0 Recommended Books
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Science--Apologia Exploring Creation With Astronomy
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*