Tuesday, July 23, 2013

HOW DO YOU DO THAT?



I have heard this question many times during the 20+ years I have homeschooled my seven children. Through the years, “that” has meant different things- how do you teach when you have babies? Toddlers? Pre-schoolers? So many children? High school? But, the answer has been very similar in all the situations. Even though I only have two children (high school age) still at home, the question keeps coming, and the answer is still the same:


I don't (at least not by myself).

One day at a time, by the grace of God.

Now that I am nearing the end of homeschooling (only 3 more years to go), I look back and ask myself, “How did I do that???” Here is what I discovered:

My first child was born in 1986 and my last was born in 1998. Just fill in all the even numbered years between those two dates for the other birthdays, and you will see that I was most likely either pregnant or nursing for 12 years!

So, how do you homeschool under those conditions.

First, remember, when the students are young – early elementary - school does not take very long. When I first started homeschooling, I would check the schedule to make sure I had done everything because it only took an hour, and surely I must be doing something wrong when it took the public school at least 6 hours. But, nope, we did everything. It just does not take long when your teacher/student ratio is 1:1.

I confess, there were many days when I might have a toddler or baby in my lap while I was teaching. Some days we chose to school in the afternoon during nap time for more uninterrupted time. (Wait, no, we did not do that until my oldest was in early high school because I had her take a nap until she was 7 and have afternoon quiet time until she was 12 or 13. I needed it, even if she didn't!)

I tried to make sure that the younger children were occupied nearby with toys, book, or a sibling. Notice that I did not say anything about watching TV or a video. In my opinion, TV, and now screen time in general, suppresses the creativity of children. We did not have TV at this time and I think that contributed to my next point.

Probably one of the most important things that I did was teach my children to read. This was always a first priority. Reading and Math were always the first subjects I taught, and then I added science, history, etc. Once a child can read, the world opens up to them and they can become independent learners. That is the key to How I Did That - I made independent learners, also known as autodidacts. The most important thing to teach your children, in my opinion, is how to learn. Once you can read and you know how to find information, you can learn whatever interests you or is required of you.
 

August 2006

Therefore, when people say to me, “You must be really smart, to teach high school to your children,” I just shrug and say something like, “Umm, not really.” Because they have learned to learn, I give them their weekly assignments and they do them. If they have questions, I am available. If math gives them trouble, I try to figure it out or get an older sibling to help them. When math gets too difficult (usually when they are ready for Calculus or Algebra II, depending on the student), I enroll them in the local community college.

By the time my students reach high school, my role has shifted a little bit. I do grade their papers, give assignments, lead discussion, and find resources. But, I don't do much actual teaching.

Of course, how I do THAT, is still:

One day at a time, by the grace of God.

I have specifics about curriculum I have used here and here.


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