This is one of those things that if you'd have asked about before kids, I would have made some snarky, uneducated comment about how homeschooling is for antisocial, tree hugging people, etc. blah blah blah. So I get it; I get that people don't understand why we chose this route. And that's what I want to blog about tonight.
Last year, our oldest, Maeve, was scheduled to enter Pre-k. We had just moved down to Florida and I was spending hours upon hours, scouring the Internet searching for the perfect pre-k program.
We definitely wanted a Bible based education so that narrowed our choices down to about 3 or 4 private schools. Cost wasn't a factor because pre-k is free. I began asking fellow mamas and got a million great reviews of area schools. Really, St. Johns county is blessed with some amazing teachers and resources!
At some point, we took Maeve into the doctor for her shots and all that jazz. They performed a basic hearing test and she failed it miserably. It was torturous watching; she looked helpless as the test was being given. It was clear something was very wrong with her left ear.
We were referred to a pediatric ENT in Jacksonville and were put through a ringer of tests. The results came back and they were bitter sweet. The awesome news- there is not anything anatomically wrong, nor disease/sickness/illness, etc. that's causing her hearing loss. The bad news- she has significant hearing loss in her left ear. To this day, we still have no clue what is causing it or what has caused it. She has her annual ENT appointment in about a week (and I'm fairly positive her hearing has gotten worse).
Anyways, after talking with the doctor and her audiologist, it was decided that if she were to be in school, she'd need a headset that was connected to the teacher. Not the end of the world, I know this. But it was kind of that shove I was hoping for. The shove into homeschooling.
It just made sense to work with her at home; after all, how badly can you mess up pre-k? And socialization wasn't a concern, as she was in 3 ballet classes, a gymnastics class and Sunday school.
So we dove in. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. And we were late in the game. I don't think we officially started until October. I ended up piecing together her pre-k curriculum with ONE main goal: Get her to LOVE learning.
We did book work (Handwriting without tears, Sing, Spell, Read & Write, Horizons math, Read-a-louds), we did a lot of "practical" everyday stuff- (example: She would help me change Stella's diaper, or get Henry dressed, tie shoes, etc.). We finger painted like mad, colored and read. And by the end of the year she was reading level 3 "Bob" books.
To sum it all up, I had a blast. She had a blast. She excelled, exceeded my goals for her, and was thriving at home, in dance classes, at church and with our little play group.
The seed was planted, and I made the formal (BIG) decision this summer to officially home school. As in, I enrolled her as a home schooled student in St. Johns County. We have a portfolio to keep and hand in to be evaluated. We have a solid curriculum and goals to meet. We also enrolled in a co-op (shout out to Joyful Hearts!) which meets on Tuesday mornings.
School has been in session at the McKenney house for about 7 weeks now. Our schedule is pretty strict, albeit the arrival of a certain little Rose.... ;)
Monday through Thursday, we get up, eat breakfast and have a "lazy time." Lazy time is basically me drinking coffee, gearing up for the day, prepping Maeve's work, etc. Lazy time for the kids is playing. Around 9, we clean. All of us- Stella included- everyone picks up what is theirs and puts it away. Beds are made, the table is cleared, I vacuum and sweep, and laundry is started.
Between 9:30 and 10, we start our school work.
Henry is working through a book called "Little Hands to Heaven" and it works out nicely to use that as our opening devotion and prayer for the morning. I can usually keep Henry at the table for about ten minutes and then he's gone. ;)
I'm not going to lie; this is a very tricky thing here... entertaining Henry and Stella while Maeve is working. I tell myself she's learning to work while having distractions. And its also building her patience, but I do feel bad that many times she's got screaming, rowdy kids running circles around her while she's trying to concentrate on reading. Some days (most, thankfully) are better than others. Stella and Henry entertain themselves pretty well. Especially if provided a snack and crayons. But there are days where its just pure chaos.
I let Maeve pick what she wants to start and finish with. She takes breaks as needed, but she does hit walls where I can tell she's just done. This is a fine line I've been skating; do I push her to continue on? To finish the rest of her lesson? Or do I nurture her growing love of learning and let her back off for a bit? I've been choosing the latter out of pure fear she's going to rebel one day and say "ENOUGH! I'm not doing it!"
When she does hit her wall, we read. She loves- LOVES- to read. This is one of my favorite parts of the day. Henry and Stella like listening to her read, and she feels like a super star as they watch her turn the pages.
The entire afternoon is taken off. It's supposed to be quiet time, though it rarely is.
Maeve starts ballet at 3 and is done by 5.
And finally, after dinner, around 6:30 or 7, Maeve finishes the day with math- her least favorite. We save it for daddy because somehow, math with dads is always better. ;)
SO- there ya have it. That's our day. That's our life.
It's not the right choice for everyone, and I get that. But it's the right choice for us, right now.
Will it be the right choice next year? I have no clue. Lots can change in year.... right Rosie? :)