Growing up and into adulthood and then marriage and even with having my first baby, I never thought I would find myself at a homeschool conference. I didn’t have awful thoughts about homeschooling. I just truly never even thought about it for one second of my life. And looking back over the past 11 years, I cannot tell you the first time I did think about or consider myself home schooling my kids. I do know The Lord used people (and lots of them) around me to get me thinking about the idea of home school. I met home school moms that were awesomely “normal” (whatever in the world that means). I began to realize that there are actually all kinds of people everywhere you go and in whatever you find yourself in to. A very honest friend of mine, when asked about socialization and weird home schoolers, said, “You’re kids will be as weird as you are.” She has a point!
Anyway, all of that to say, we jumped into home schooling in 2009, and we have never looked back.
Now I didn’t say I’ve never daydreamed about having 7 hours, five days a week without my kids…but I truly cannot imagine not homeschooling the kids. I’m learning so very much! And I am getting to know my kids in some fun and challenging ways.
So I found myself at a home school conference this past week. I could have attended for three days straight, but I attended four great sessions, strolled through the Exhibitor’s Hall and came home to fall into bed at 10pm. It was enough for me. The rest of the weekend I gathered my brain back together with silence. Heavenly silence.
But while I was at the conference I did learn some things.
Session One-MaryJo Tate “Overcoming Interruptions and Distractions”
She reminded us that saying YES to one thing automatically says NO to many other things.
Distractions and Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes. She divided them into three categories.
1) ACTIVITIES- what do you need to KEEP doing? ELIMINATE? ADD? She talked about delegating some chores…maybe kids can start doing all the laundry or maybe you need to outsource a subject or music instrument to another teacher? Or what about hiring a maid? (Now that would be nice!)
She encouraged you to study your kids and see what they are passionate about before just signing them up for this, that, and the other.
Lastly, in activities, she told us to remember that opportunity does NOT equal obligation. You don’t have to do every great thing that comes across your path!
2) STUFF- Get rid of clutter and simplify your life. I think I’m making great strides in this area.
3) PEOPLE- sounds funny that people, including your children, can be interruptions or distractions. As a general rule, people are worth stopping what you’re doing and helping. She was just trying to convey that as your kids become more independent in their work, you may want to do some other things ( for her, she edits books as a job), and your kids need to learn some boundaries. For me, if I’ve spent time with my kids with Bible and History and then get them started on a few things they can do on their own, without me sitting over them, then I can go walk on the treadmill and should be able to expect no interruptions. Maybe school is over and I want a nap…that’s ok. Tell the kids what you expect from them and take an uninterrupted nap. I’m with my kids a lot, so, I want to help them realize I am my own person and I don’t exist simply to answer their every school work question or help them in all their endeavors all day long.
Other helpful tidbits from this session:
Use 30 minute screen time for the kids when it would most benefit me in the day.
When my kids come to me for help about something, first ask them, “What would you do if I were not here to help?” This just helps them start thinking more independently.
And my favorite reminder: INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT. Ugh!! Isn’t the fact that I’ve told them what to do and have shown them how to do it enough????? Evidently not. So for a while I will be going back to a bit of hand-holding. I will have to go into the bathroom to see if the toilet is clean, to make sure the mirror is clean of toothpaste spots, to make sure the beds are made nicely, etc. More work for me now, but I am hoping they are actually learning how to clean a bathroom really well. Whether you agree with me or not, it’s a valuable lesson.
Session Two-Karen DeBeus
Karen was a great speaker. She wrote a book, CALLED HOME, that I read last year. It is a story about how she reluctantly began home schooling. Her blogs are simplylivingforhim.com and BibleBasedHomeschoolibg.com.
I enjoyed hearing how she used the Bible as their only textbook one year, besides still using their math curriculum. However, at this time, I don’t feel led to do that!
A few quotes I liked:
“Don’t spend more time reading ABOUT the Bible than IN the Bible.”
“So what if they can read….if they don’t read The Word?!”
“Being a homeschooled should not define us. Being saved by Christ should. Let us be known by representing Him.”
My main take-away here was to start each day with the kids in The Word. I used to be diligent about this. I have my own time with God in His Word, so sometimes I just have them do their chores, have breakfast and then get started on math while I do some other things I want to do and then we move on to other subjects and before you know it, we haven’t read God’s Word together. It’s the most important thing we can study together, so why would I skip it?? So, we’re putting priorities back in order as it relates to our home school routine. And I’m looking forward to it!
Session 3—SIBLING RIVALRY
Session 4— INDEPENDENT LEARNERS
Both of those sessions were fabulous, but a bit too much to convey through notes. They gave good tips for helping kids realize that the real enemy is satan, and in realizing their common enemy, they will better understand that they should work together against him and his ways instead of against each other.
And as it relates to independent learners, I think the girls are making great strides. Mack, on the other hand, has a ways to go! He loves to be sitting right beside me while he works…you know, just in case he needs me to explain something in every math problem to him. We will continue to work on this with all of the kids. I do not want them to get to middle school and be clueless about completing their work on their own….of course I will still teach them, but for the most part, it’s pretty neat to see how they learn a great deal by reading the lesson on their own.
While I’m still prayerful about classes we will sign up for and curriculum we will buy, I think I have a plan! And for that, I am thankful.
Here are a few pictures from down in south GA of what my kids were doing without me.