Friday, March 13, 2015

Why We Homeschool

“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life...” ~ David O. McKay

Welcome to the Pepperwood Dragons!

 First off, you’ll notice as I post that I’ll always say “we homeschool”, not “I homeschool”. This is because homeschooling is a joint effort, not just between my husband and myself but with the kids as well. They are included in everything, and homeschooling really is a family affair for us. You might also be wondering about our name. I read once that customizing your homeschool with a name could make it more fun. Pepperwood Dragons is both the name and mascot of our little “school”. It’s a combination of our street name and an animal we think is a good, strong mascot for us (the dragon).
 It’s only our 2nd year but I feel like we have come so far. Homeschool has definitely been full of its ups and downs. We barely survived our first year, scraping by and ending the school year with more of a whimper than a bang. Then I took the summer to re-evaluate. I asked myself 2 questions. Why are we doing this? And what do we want to achieve?

            Why do we homeschool? To be honest, the idea to homeschool was originally my Love’s, not mine. I entertained the thought when D started kindergarten in public school. We had so many problems in the beginning that it seemed like the solution. But we eventually found a (very rocky) balance and the boys remained in public school for the next 5 years. D went from kindergarten all the way through the 4th grade; Nay went through 1 year of preschool all the way through 3rd.

            The kids (and I) spent so long in public school that the idea of trying to take on the responsibility of handling the education of not one but two children was to say the least terrifying to me at first. But I felt it was worth a try and the more I researched and the more I built myself up for it, the more I wanted to homeschool. I suppose I pictured a home day care type setting, with the older children quietly working on their lessons while the baby naps quietly in her bassinet and I look on as the picture of maternal bliss.
            Obviously I’m a crazy person lol because what I got was two boys who were used to blending into the background of 30+ children, scraping by and doodling on their papers. I tried to jump in feet first, but organizing and previewing and teaching two different grades to two very different children at the same time was overwhelming. Then add in our 6 month old baby who wanted to be the center of attention when she saw us looking at the books. That was also overwhelming. On top of all that, the boys were frustrated. I think they pictured homeschool as being as picturesque and peaceful as I did.

            What do we want to achieve? We followed the curriculum we received from the charter school we attend. But there really is so much work to do. Reading and answering questions, reading comprehension, handwriting, history, science, geography, math, English. And we tried to do EVERYTHING the paper told us we were supposed to do. For two months. 

            Finally, at the end of my wits, I called my best friend in hysterics, crying that I had to send the boys back to school the next day, convinced by their frustration and my own that I was failing miserably and surely dooming my children’s education. She talked me down and convinced me to at least see the week through. When I was calm, I looked up ideas for how to not go insane. The result? I combined the boys into one grade and followed one set curriculum. I also cut down the work to an amount that we could complete without getting overwhelmed.

            Then we just prayed for the best and took it one day at a time. Over the summer I decided that the 2nd year would very loosely follow the state required curriculum, adding my own flare and style to it. I also discovered lap books and have a passionate love for them! Nay loves them too. D is starting to get too old for them.

            So this brings me back to my original questions. Why do we homeschool? Because I believe it is natural for children to be educated by their parents at home. Learning and growing is more than books and dates and reports. It’s about life. This year we are learning about ancient civilizations, Earth science and decimals and percent’s. But more than that my sons are learning how to cook, how to sew, how to write a proper letter to someone, instead of just a text.

What do we want to achieve? I want my sons to be valuable members of society, I want them to be strong, self reliant and knowledgeable of what the world is going to expect of them as adults. I want them to be prepared. I want homeschooling to bring us closer as a family, living together, but also learning together, supporting our children, as they grow into adults with every advantage possible. I believe they will learn this better from their parents than strangers. And what is parenting if not teaching your children?