Right now I'm sitting at my desk in the room upstairs that used to be our "homeschool room" --- a small guest room that we converted into a cozy school room. I remember during our early days of home teaching when the morning sun would pour in the windows, warming the carpet, making it comfortable to prop a few fluffy pillows on the floor for reading. I would read aloud; then I'd have Austin and Justin take turns reading aloud too.
We used the school room a lot when the twins were in elementary and middle school -- less in high school -- but the little "study bungalow" was a great place for Austin and Justin to sit down to do assignments through the years. The centerpiece to the room is a large white dry-erase board on the main wall. Today there's a message that reads:
"Hi Mom! If you're reading this, remember all the fun we had in this room and in homeschooling? Love you, ----Justin P.S. - Written the night before we left for college."
Okay, today I'm really missing the guys since they left for college two weeks ago! I'm remembering all the fun we had during the eleven years of homeschooling.
Don't you think that part of the beauty of home teaching is the ability to enjoy learning, discovering and growing together? I realize that teaching isn't easy and that sometimes we might wonder, "With all the hard work it takes to homeschool and manage a household, can it really be fun?" Yes, a resounding yes! Amidst the dedication, faithfulness and fortitude that it takes on your part -- homeschooling, although not easy, can definitely be fun.
I'm sharing this picture of Austin and I in the school room while we had a light moment at the end of eleventh grade. (This is the school room I was talking about earlier). I remember Austin saying, "Yes! We got through Chemistry!"
When I first started teaching at home, I thought that the hardest part would be teaching the academics. Not so! The hardest part for me was the transition into the homeschooling lifestyle (The twins did kindergarten and first grade at a private school.) It was great to have a free, less-structured, real-living approach to learning. No longer did learning begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. We had a new outlook to education. Learning would be natural and enjoyable, without having to sit all day!
We adjusted easily to the new routine and loved the pace of homeschooling. The best part was that we could pack sandwiches (on occasion) and meet Jay at the park for lunch since he worked in town. We had so many wonderful moments laughing, learning and spending valuable time together that it's hard for me to convey what a joy it was to homeschool during those years. I spent eleven years preparing for homeschool (not really - but you know what I mean!), eleven years teaching homeschool, and now will spend eleven years encouraging people who homeschool!
When Austin and Justin were eight, they were absolutely fascinated with the globe and geography, so we spent many hours playing the "Globe Game" -- our own made-up game which introduced the boys to different continents, countries and cities around the world. Once, we spent practically all morning discovering new places on the globe. It was fun and I learned a lot.
Please don't get the impression that I don't believe in hard work -- I do! But, especially in the younger years, I think children need to be in a relaxed setting where they can be themselves and explore areas that interest them. Many times, being outdoors can be a great place to learn.
I'd like to encourage you to have an enjoyable year. Although the following tips are extremely simple and somewhat geared to those of you with younger children, we might all benefit from these reminders:
1. Laugh. Laugh with your children. Let them see you smile often. Teaching doesn't need to be solemn or boring. Enjoy it!
2. Play. Pack some sandwiches and venture out to the park or playground. Take in some fresh air and sunshine. Swing on the swings. Age doesn't matter for swinging!
3. Hold. Hold those little hands and give lots of hugs. Cherish the time when your children are small. Teens need hugs, too!
I wish you a great year. May the Lord bless you and keep you as you have fun teaching.
Remember -- with God's help, keep being the best mom you can be!