By: Leah Prescott
I thought it was about time to give you guys a little homeschooling update now that most of second grade is behind us. I didn’t want to write this update a month ago, because, for me, that January-February stretch is always the hardest time of homeschooling (and parenting, come to think of it). Now that March is here, we are looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. And since I’m feeling positive about our educational journey and where it is taking us, now is the time to share.
This has been a challenging but good year for us. It has been an absolute joy to watch both of my 8-year-olds gaining independence and taking more responsibility for their own learning. As they settle into a routine of daily reading I am reminded of my own fervent love for the written word! This week I have seen my daughter enthusiastically pouring over the very same, well-worn copy of Little House on the Prairie that I read myself at her age. Moments like these give me a thrill that I cannot describe. It’s those “joy of parenting warm fuzzies” that sometimes come between all the late night wakings and endless laundry. They may be rare, but they are better than caffeine for keeping a mom going!
We are still enthusiastically participating in our twice-a-week hybrid program with our homeschooling partners. During those two days we get all the perks of a traditional classroom, but during the other three we’re back at home or out in the real world. I get a break from being full-time Mama on those days and the kids get time with friends and teachers who are so much more experienced than I am. It’s a great compromise for our family.
One of my biggest challenges this year has been dealing with my youngest, who will be three in a couple months. He is a handful and sometimes I think his main goal is to distract everyone from their own tasks. I’m sure his endless energy is going to result in a strong, intelligent young man. For now, I often feel ill-equipped to parent him! However, we have had a lot of improvements since the school year began. He is able to focus on more “academic” activities now and he is having great fun learning “big-kid” skills like cutting with scissors and tracing letters. Like his big sisters, he loves a good book. The rest of the time, he is running around pretending to be a superhero and jumping off the furniture.
As always, getting out of the house is high on my list of priorities to maintain sanity. To keep us all motivated, we often get started on schoolwork first thing in the morning, and get a bulk of it done in time to jump in the car and head to the library, the zoo, a museum, the park, or even a Chick-fil-a playplace. The big girls try to maximize their car time with practicing math facts. Around Christmas we bought them each a Flashmaster and it has really helped them. Although it’s basically just an electronic flashcard, they seem to really enjoy using them, which was NOT the case with traditional flashcards.
Finally, we have had a bit of a break-through in the home management arena: I have started meal planning. Now, try not to laugh out loud. I know this is the most basic and obvious skill, only a small step up from microwave macaroni, but I can be slow sometimes. Simply compiling an organized grocery list and jotting down meals for each dinner of the week has proven so helpful. I have also reduced our grocery trips to once a week which has been difficult for me, but totally worth it from a practical as well as a financial standpoint.
So that’s a bit of an update for us. I guess this semester I’ve been learning the importance of planning, flexibility and patience. Come to think of it, these are some of the same things that I want my children to learn as they grow into adults. As elementary as these concepts are, I still have to remind myself each day to practice these simple life skills!