Homeschooling Identity Crisis

17 Sep

If you follow me on facebook or twitter or read this little blog of mine, you know that the first 10 days (has it really ONLY been 10 day?) of school have been a bit, shall we say, rocky? 

In chewing it over (a million gazillion times), I came to the realization that I am (or was) having a homeschooling identity crisis. 

Let me explain.

I am a “Montessori, hands, minds on kind of teacher” mixed with a bit of “Charlotte Mason lets live it and breath it in our daily lives,” sprinkled in with a tiny bit of “Classical Curriculum“, mixed with “I don’t know, let’s just get through this day with everyone still alive, ok?”  I am confused.  Or I was.  But I’m not any more.

Let me take you on a tour of our schoolroom to explain:

School “room”

(sectioned off portion of our basement).

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Notice the gate that goes the entire width of the basement.  In theory, it keeps James and other wild animals (children) out of our school area.

Our art shelves: 

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These shelves are filled with numerous kinds of crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, scissors, papers, etc.  The kids have full access to these supplies whenever their artistic hearts desire them.

Practical Life

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These shelves contain works (the Montessorian in me comes out) that are rotated every 4-6 weeks.  These works are really geared at Jonah, to help him develop fine motor skills in pouring, buttoning, lacing, etc.  There are also sewing, polishing, and other more advanced works for Annie.

Language Arts area

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This, too, is an area that gets rotated every few weeks.  Each week, I highlight books from the insane collection I was gifted from my former partner teacher who retired after 37 years of teaching.  There are chapter books for Annie, picture books for Jonah, and various topic specific ones, as well.  We happen to be learning a lot about maps right now, so there are a few geography ones out, too. 

The Teaching Table

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This is where I meet with the kids when we are working one-on-one.  The cabinets and shelves contain all the manuals and workbooks that we use.

Prayer Table

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Every day we come together in prayer at our prayer table.  We pray through scripture, we wonder about sacred art pictures and what they are trying to show, we sing, we offer prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, and petition.  By far, this is the best part of our day.

So why was I having an identity crisis?  I mean, this school room, it is my happy place.  I love teaching and this room works great for it, except for when it doesn’t.

In my heart, *I* know what I want our school days to look like.  Deep, deep in my heart, I believe that children learn best through hands on application. I’ve seen it in my public and private school classrooms and in our home. I’ve written entire curriculums based on this (ones that won me A Woman of the Year Award in the Archdiocese of St. Louis when I was teaching in Missouri). I am the happiest teacher when I can provide this kind of learning for my kids, especially my own kids.

So I wanted my school days to function like my institutionalized school days in the public and private schools. 

But, you see, that is impossible.

We homeschool.  I am not teaching in a school setting where a bell rings and I have X amount of minutes to enrich my students lives. No, we teach in our homes. 

It is what we do throughout the day, at least that is what I am learning.

I forgot that when we started the year.  I tried to have X amount of time set aside for school each day.  Everyone had a task and all minutes were accounted for.  And if we got off schedule, I got stressed.  And let me tell you, we were constantly off schedule because…well, James is in this family and he is naughty.  But what could I expect?  I mean seriously, there is no way any 21 month would be content playing in our basement ALL morning long.  He got bored, he yelled, he demanded attention.  And I got impatient, crabby, and overwhelmed.  My picture of what our day needed to look like was just not shaking out.   

Gad had such different plans for how He wanted our days to flow.  I just couldn’t see them through my plans.  I think sometimes having
a teaching background is actually more challenging than not having one when it comes to homeschooling.  A school day is NOT a homeschooling day.

So, I reached out to friends, especially ones that I knew understood me and my family and how we roll.  They shared battle stories, offered advice and most importantly, encouraged me to go with my instincts. 

And so I did. 

I ditched the perfectly laid out schedule, and instead mapped out how many times a week I hoped to cover all the different topics, along with the living that needs to be done (laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc).  I came up with a rough outline for each day and STOPPED LOOKING AT THE CLOCK and went back to just loving my kids and weaving school in and out of our day. 

So while we have a “schedule” for the day it is more like this:  Taday, I hope we cover X, Y, and Z.  I don’t know when exactly and where we will do these things.  Now, let’s get to work.

And so we start fresh each day with a penciled in plan and I hand over the eraser to God, asking him to erase what isn’t necessary.  We get to work, and we work hard, but now, no one is yelling, no one is crying and so much more learning is taking place then I could have ever sketched out in my perfectly accounted for minute by minute schedule.  My kids are learning in this beautiful model that I believe so strongly in.  They are just doing it a different setting, in different timeslots, and with so many opportunities to receive grace. 

So confused no more, we have found our resting place in God’s plan for our family.

Thank you, Jesus.

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One Response to “Homeschooling Identity Crisis”

  1. Kelly Wissink September 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Beautifully written, Amanda! Enjoy! I am so glad that you have found your happy place. It is beautiful!

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