Tales of a Reluctant Homeschooler

Hi Mommas - It’s me Niki, and I’m back with another blog. For those of you who didn’t know already, I am a proud mother of a large family! One daughter and 8 sons. Although they are all grown up now and grandbabies are finally coming, I seriously wonder how things can possibly succeed at this time in the school systems. I don’t envy you the choices you have to make right now! Last blog we talked about preparing for school. This time I wanted to share with you some observations I have had from homeschooling. I ended up homeschooling... something I had never in my life would have expected and would have scoffed at even the thought of it. It originally started as my daughter in grade 5 was being bullied and the school recommended it. After we had been homeschooling with her for a year, I realized that my oldest son wasn’t reading up to level so I brought him home as well and then thought what the heck … I should just bring my youngest home as well, so I did! I honestly would not trade that time with my kids for anything. We had so much fun, and those memories will truly last a lifetime!  I do have to say it was a sharp learning curve.  I was a basket case for a while, but we eventually figured out what was expected and was assigned a homeschool facilitator from Argyll Center to help us through the year. Every day was a different adventure, and I soon learned that each of my children’s personalities were very different and that I needed to take their learning styles to make things work smoother. I was lucky enough to have a best friend that had always homeschooled, with children of similar ages. I picked her brain and as our kids were of similar age, we did a lot of school things together. If you’re thinking about homeschooling your kids this year or at some point in the future, here are a few things we learned worked for our family! What have I gotten myself into?? I can’t tell you how many times I wondered this! There are many helpful things to make homeschool easier for you. Lots of different schedulers for Homeschoolers that are truly a life saver. I would make a schedule for each child for the month so I knew what I was doing daily and not just floundering around. I also went to my first homeschool conference in Red Deer AB, I had no idea how many people homeschooled and what was out there to help us work smarter not harder. The presenting people were fabulous and I learned so much and found lots of education materials that would work for my kids. There are so many curriculums there that are ready for you to just pick up and follow it through, there are fun and wild activities to get your child loving school. There is even Un-schooling who knew? (a whole nother subject) There were lots of materials that were innovative, developed for different learning styles and were fun! I assume now most all of these materials will be sold online by the creators and you can also go to the Red Deer conference in the month of April. Trial and Error When I was first starting out, I definitely had the wrong mindset! I thought that all lessons had to follow the textbook to a tee, and there was little room for creativity.  For my oldest in grade 6 she decided to do online homeschool. Argyll Center has teachers and facilitators to help you decide what type of homeschooling you might be interested in there are several options. At the beginning, I found our biggest struggle was getting her brain running in the morning. Of course I was freaking that she needed to get up and do the same routine as she would in school! After a lot of frustration I was trying to figure out what to do. Then I realized that she has always been a night owl. When we experimented with her doing her work in the late afternoon or evening… She was happy and worked diligently with no problem! (took my husband much longer to buy into the night school thing, but eventually even he had to realize it worked) My Middle Son in Grade 4, was a pain in the butt. He needed to work at his own pace (slowww) which drove me crazy. He needed lots of small breaks. For him specifically we did all kinds of outdoor activities, very hands on things... We decided on goats for our 4H club project. This was a great learning experience! We took care of them, bred them and we even got to go through pregnancy, labor and delivering of the babies. We also had the pleasure (sarcasm) of learning to milk them. Who knew how smart goats are... when they let you fill a whole bucket of milk and then purposely kick it over before you could get up!! In the spring he and his best friend that also homeschooled, would be out in the back pasture by the swamp land, I can’t tell you how many boats, rafts and pirate ships were built and collapsed and rebuilt till they got it right for them, including motors, how deep the vessel needs to be and many other things. They had a blast and learned something they loved. So we learned that he worked much better with hands - on activities.  My youngest son, 6 was happy as a clam with workbooks, he loved it when I had his schedule already laid out for the day and he figured out really quickly that if he worked hard for 2 hours, then he had the rest of the day for art, music and martial arts. It really annoyed his sibling lol. Homeschooling Can Create Strong Bonds with your Children I truly believe that we build stronger, deeper relationships with our children when they homeschooled and they have good memories of that time we had. We did all kinds of activities that were fun and educational. We homeschooled while camping in Sept and Oct. We checked out animals and their habitat, followed tracks, learned what plants are edible and what ones to stay away from, made art projects, built projects and read tons of books. The bonding that happened while homeschooling was a surprise! I didn’t realize that bringing them home at this vulnerable time in their lives would give them an edge. They developed good work habits, respect, morals and values. When the boys finally went back in grad 4 and 7, they had a strong foundation, and knew who they were and what they believed in. All my fears about curriculum were for nothing as they were far ahead of the regular classes. I remember my youngest coming home and saying that they wasted so much time in class, and why didn’t they understand what “homework” was! He was the only one who did it and was disgusted that the others didn’t.  My oldest refused to go back to school, she just didn’t want all the drama. Graduated and went on to College with no problem. Is this doable? Absolutely! Will it take awhile to figure out? Yes! Will you get frustrated and have to change ways things are done? Yes! Remember you are not alone, hundreds of homeschools have wonderful groups. Some I remember fondly are the 4h presentations, and activities for homeschoolers, gym class, band, sewing, riding horses or even raising beef and Chickens! Remember there are tons of Homeschooling groups. Argyll Center has weekly science classes, field trips for homeschoolers, band classes. Dow center in Fort Saskatchewan have exercise classes just for homeschoolers in the day. The Emerald Hill swimming pool also has a homeschool swimming class that is in the day. Are you feeling lost and need someone who has been there to help you? Do you need to just talk to get everything worked out in your head? Give me a text/email and we can set up a free 15 min phone consult. I look forward to your questions!