Over my homeschooling years I’ve had to learn to let the schedule slip to make the journey peaceful for us all. Having kids in different grades can bring a lot of frustration. In the same regard it brings diversity. My typical day includes lessons for my preschooler, second grader, and fourth grader. I remember doing all different subjects with each one and going stir crazy. One morning my son who is in preschool decided he wanted to color the same map that my older two were labeling and coloring. I printed him a map and he was quiet the entire lesson! I now have learned to adapt the older two children’s school lessons around my preschooler too! Some days he might build with blocks in his room while the girls and I do a few subjects. When he makes his grand entrance at the table, we shift things a bit so he can be included and the tears don’t begin. I prefer to school this way.Although we have set levels for each child and different books for each subject we can make compromises to include everyone. Homeschooling in this fashion isn’t how we do it all the time–just in those times that call for it. This is the diversity part I mentioned earlier.
I like to look at our educational experience as a positive one with unforgettable memories. I’ve even created an album full of brightly printed photos that include our journey through homeschooling. It’s so neat to go back and look with the kids on how it all began. Six years later our homeschooling journey is still just as interesting as it was from the start in that album.
I believe that the elementary years are the most precious. I might be saying this because I don’t have a middle schooler or high schooler yet, but I’ll believe it for now. Here is why I believe this and maybe you can relate. When a child can start to learn phonics, arithmetic, and grammar, it sets the foundation for all other paths in their educational life. If they don’t have the foundation, it makes all the other levels they will one day approach harder. This can set a lot of us parents in the mindset that we need to make our kids’ education important. For example, when you need your child to learn the definition of a noun and they are resistant, it can make you push that aside and move on. I’ve found that being hands-on and creative works better than pushing it aside. My kids now know the definition of a noun because I’ve had them run around the house finding a noun. If they paired the noun with a verb they earned a mini marshmallow. I don’t call that bribery; I call it learning with motivational purpose.
Enjoy the small things. Paint washes, glitter can be swept, and a million cut up tiny pieces of paper crumple into a ball just fine. It can be very difficult for many families to let this form of “educational experience” happen because of the stress and the mess. The memories you build are much greater! When I have my preschooler learning his arithmetic with glue and buttons he insists that he needs to use safety scissors to cut up the edges of the page that we’re gluing buttons onto. I spent endless times fussing over him doing that. I have learned to let go of that and let him have the lesson of mastering the scissors. He’s proud of all his work even more now that I allow him expression. Watching my son express himself through his work has given me more reason to enjoy the small things.
My daughters are both artistic, too. When we have projects to do, the girls tackle the artistic part of it all without any question. My oldest daughter can draw amazing things without ever taking a single art lesson on how to draw. I see how allowing her to express herself through this gift brings her much happiness. She prefers to draw her own pictures of items for her science narration sheets, whereas my middle daughter would prefer to use the printed one. My middle daughter enjoys adding scrapbooking paper trim to her schoolwork. I see this side of expression in all my kids and I get a good little laugh when I’m filing away schoolwork and come across an extremely expressive piece of math.
All of this to come to the beautiful conclusion that allowing your kids to learn to express themselves through all things can teach them. A math lesson that they might have struggled with could be easily understood by teaching them the way they learn best and allowing them to respond in their way. Even if it takes them ten minutes to get to the answer, it will eventually take them less time as they learn in their way.