I guess you can say that I am more of a veteran homeschooling mom, than a new homeschooling mom. Well, I have been in this arena for quite some time now with my oldest child Isaiah who is eight (and halfway through the 2nd grade). I started the journey back in 2004 (when he was 3 1/2), so it's been almost 5 years now!! The time has seemed to fly by and in the process I have learned some pretty important lessons along the way ;-) As I embark on a new journey, this time with my second child, Moriah, who is now 4 1/2 I feel a little more confident than I did the last time around and definitely a whole lot more relaxed as well.
One of the most important thing we can teach our children is: a love of learning. In our minds, or my mind anyway, I always thought that the two words were not synonymous. Love and learning have always seemed like oil and water to me as I was growing up...I always hated school and did it out of obligation. I remember high school and college days forcing myself to study and learn only what was needed to write a paper or pass the test, only to forget the knowledge that I acquired. Therefore, in my own homeschool (when Isaiah was younger - 5 & 6) I had a tendency to push push push when it came to teaching and assigning schoolwork because I somehow felt that he needed to be far above his public school peers and so when I felt that he excelled at something than I pushed him so hard and to the point where he despised the very thing he used to love. This is wrong and I caution you to be aware of your child's resistance in particular areas. If they are struggling in a subject, take it easy or just drop it where you are and come back to it at a later date. If your child loves a subject then foster that love for it, make it fun and exciting. This isn't a race to see how much he/she can learn, because every child learns at their own pace. We as parents need to accept that! We should never compare ourselves with that of other homeschool moms or compare our kids with other kids their age because it can be harmful to us and them as well!! I actually had to step back and reevaluate what I was doing because guess what??! What I was doing wasn't working and it wasn't helping Isaiah to love learning...he was actually hating it and resisting it in every way. School was a nightmare and chore and just to get him to sit down and do it was another struggle. I prayed and fought and struggled and prayed some more and learned the hard way that what I was doing just wasn't working for us. I decided to relax a lot more and not push so much, we went with a literature based curriculm (Sonlight) and basically started incorporating a Charlotte Mason approach to things (with tons of literature, narrating, notebooking) as opposed to a mostly workbooky approach and that is when the Love of Learning came back to my precious boy. I had to let go of the control and let go of the idea of public schooling at home. I now let him orchestrate the subjects that he does each day and allow for explorations of topics that we are not covering in the curriculum by just going to the library and researching various things. Now when I ask him, so how do you think the day went?? He answers, "it was great Mom." He truly loves learning now and I can see that he is so interested in history, science, math, literature, etc. I never was and so it is amazing to see it up close and personal. My heart dances and I just praise God because it took a while to get to this point but we never gave up and constantly had to reevaluate things and modify them to suite our needs.
Now when it comes to Moriah (pre-k) I am so much more relaxed and there is no pressure on her to do as much as I did with Isaiah and you can so see that she is just loving it! We read a ton of books, she colors, she builds houses with her math cubes, we sit down and do reading lessons together and that is it!!! We focus on the three R's mainly (reading, writing and arithmetic) and the rest of the day she plays, uses her imagination and sings songs and I just feel so at peace about it. I don't feel that we need to put all these curriculums on them so early on, remember they have the rest of their lives to do curriculums and learn in group settings, I think that the beginning years need to be free to explore and grow and imagine and learn. They are truly natural little learners at that point. Now it doesn't matter what homeschool style we choose or how they learn (visual, auditory, kinetic, hands-on, etc) as long as we are teaching them to love learning each and everyday.