Sunday, November 2, 2014

How it All Started

We took a giant plunge at the beginning of 2014. We took our 9 year old son (I'll call him Monkey) out of public school 4th grade to homeschool him. This was a long time coming, as he had been asking us to homeschool him for at least a year, and for the years before that, he was just miserable and hated school. Honestly, for most of that time, homeschooling was out of the question. We never got past "It's not gonna happen, so stop asking." But it was so hard to see him struggle with kids excluding him, being bored with the material, and spending hours on homework that really should not have taken hours, just because of his highly distractable personality. We barely had time as a family to spend together having fun or to work on things like life skills and character training, or explore other interests he had, because we were so tied to the school/homework/activities schedule. He came home so built up with frustration and anxiety that he was often angry and sulky after school. He would dread going to school each night before a school day, and come August, when 4th grade was approaching, he dreaded the start of it. Finally, last October, I started to seriously look into it (not 'consider it', just 'look into it').

I spent a month intensely researching homeschooling both on the internet and in books. As I prayed about it, suddenly God brought so many homeschoolers into my life.  Before this, my whole entire life, I had probably met 2-3 people who homeschooled their kids. During this time, I was meeting complete strangers who homeschooled!  I wasn't looking for them, they just suddenly were there, and I was able to ask questions of them and find out first-hand what it was all about. I met some adults who themselves had been homeschooled and asked about their experiences.  By mid-November, I was convinced this was the direction we were going. And gave our notice to the school in mid-December. Monkey's last day at school would be the day before Christmas break.

After making the decision, I was up to my ears in curricula research.  So many options, so many reviews! Since this was brand new to us, someone suggested we buy a packaged curriculum to get us started. We ended up choosing My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures because I wanted him to learn about other cultures more in-depth than a single 'Multi-cultural Day' at school.  We finished that at the end of September (we kept up with it over the summer, but modified it/skipped parts, to fit in our summer travels and to try out other material), and now we are on our own, making up plans a week or two in advance.

In the past 10 months, I've learned so much about learning!

I've learned to be more flexible. 
I've learned that there's many paths to the same goal.  
I've learned that we don't HAVE to do everything the curriculum lays out. 
I've learned that sometimes kids have better ideas than parents/teachers. 
I've learned to listen, really listen, to my son.  
I've learned to enjoy the process.
I've learned it's OK to skip some days of school, or alternate subjects by day, or by week!
I've learned to give myself some slack. 

It's been a huge learning process, and I think one of the best parts is getting to spend more time growing closer to our little Monkey. He is learning, he is thriving, and he is just a happier and more relaxed kid than he was a year ago.