Homeschooling is a deeply personal journey for each family. When I began this journey I would spend hours reading books, blog posts, and comments from other families trying to gather ideas and schedules and book lists and methods so that I could turn around and put together a method and form a routine that would fit us and allow our children to learn and grow. I have learned a thing or two a long the way and wanted to share it here in case another mom or dad comes along looking for an idea or an answer to a question or some encouragement at the end of a very long, hard day :).
1) Each year and each child is different. I am not sure this is the case in every family because there are mom's that I know personally that have homeschooled for years using the same curriculum and the same schedule and it really works for them. But for our family I have found that each year I am back at the drawing board re-assessing everything. Does this work for us now? Are we using it? Is it adding to our day or do I find ourselves slogging through it? Is this an impetus or a stumbling block? And many, many times that means searching for something new that works. Whether it is math, science, language arts etc;. Our major struggle was in the early years finding a phonogram/early reading program that worked for us. We finally stumbled onto The Writing Road to Reading and LOVED it. For early writing and grammar we discovered that Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons worked VERY well for us. But it took us sitting down and trying new things and then evaluating if that particular path worked for us or not.
2) There are several blogs I turn to for encouragement, ideas, perspective and some great reading book suggestions - in no particular order:
A Holy Experience
Coffee Tea Books and Me
In the Midst of It
Embracing My Cup
I Take Joy
Inspired To Action
While most of these women have homeschooled or are homeschooling or were homeschooled themselves, the reason that I like them so much is that they each have such beautiful hearts. I have spent many evenings stopping off at these spots for some encouragement and ideas and have received SO SO very much in return. You need to have some tools in your pack that will re-charge you and remind you of why you are doing what you are doing. Whether you are able to join a local homeschool co-op or parents group, or have a list of friends you can email/call, or have a list of blogs you can read, you need something to encourage you and give you ideas.
3) Each child learns at their own pace. And they will go through phases. Weeks and weeks of nothing and them BOOM it explodes and they are off again. Lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of encouragement are needed. Both for your heart and for theirs. Be all there for that child, work hard for them, and dig in until you discover what works for them. Do something hard EVERY single day that challenges them but end the lesson with something that they have mastered. You want them to know they have further to go and not get comfortable, but you want them to see how far they have come and not get discouraged.
Next entry I will try and compile a list of our favorite books so far...