This school year started out with plenty of excitement. I was almost 3,000 months pregnant (or maybe just 9, but it felt like 3,000!) We moved into our mostly finished farmhouse on my due date, and she was born 10 days later. I tried and tried to get things as settled as I could before the baby came, but there was still much to be done to get our house fully functional. I still attempted schooling as many days as I could, even through the craziness because I didn’t want to fall behind…. although, it must’ve been inevitable because we did indeed fall behind. And sometimes that’s just life, right?
Once our fifth was born things really got interesting….. have you ever had 3 children under the age of 3? Well, it’s not for the faint of heart, I can tell you that much…. also, it makes homeschooling just a teensy bit difficult. I don’t know if it was the having 3 under 3, moving right at the birth, or just the sheer number of children in general, but I believe that adding my fifth child was the hardest thus far! It’s so incredibly worth it, but do not be fooled, it took a lot of work and tears and prayers to get through this year. And I feel like a broken record at this point, but it is always true and worth repeating, God is so faithful! And He gave me what I needed when I needed it, and He will give my children what they need as well. I can’t be their everything, but He can be!
We did some fun activities, had many adventures, and the girls seemed to learn a lot, but it was not all rainbows and sunshine. In fact, it was really down-right hard sometimes, and I would often ask myself if this was one of those seasons of life that I should’ve just sent them to school. (Not that my husband would’ve let me do that, lol!) But after further prayer and consideration, I felt very convinced in our call to homeschool, and I began to preach to myself that it would be better for my children to be a little behind, than to be somewhere that God did not want them to be. I felt like they were in the best place they could be, with the person who loved them most. With parents who were seeking the Lord first in all things, and seeking to give them a Biblical education. God gave these children to me, and He would equip me to teach and train them.
One particular challenge that I ran into time and time again this past year, was that my first grader was HATING school. She cried and cried about it every day, especially math. We were doing Bob Jones distance learning for math, which had fun dvd lessons to watch, little activities to do, and then a correlating worksheet. It was a great program really (I would have kept it up, but it’s just too pricey for us to do each year). I splurged on it the prior year because we were in such a difficult season and I needed to outsource something….. in other words, someone else was teaching math for a while. My oldest did great with it, but my second daughter was definitely struggling. I finally gave up on it about mid year and used worksheets from the My Father’s World book of math first grade, which she was going through the LA portion of MFW first anyway. I decided at the end of this year to “hold her back a grade”, but really I’m her in her rightful grade. She started kinder at age 4, and it was just too early, she wasn’t ready. Some 4 year olds may be ready for K, but she just wasn’t one of them. That was a little bit hard on my heart at first, but once we made the official switch and decided to make this her kindergarten year, things started going much better! She is a living child, made in the image of God, and to push her to do things she is not ready for, and to make our schooling full of resentment and sorrow would ultimately teach her many lessons I did not want to teach her about life, love, and learning. My new goals turned to helping her gain confidence in school and helping her grow in a love of learning. She loves music and art and read-alouds, so as we worked on the basics, I made sure we also had plenty of the good stuff that could feed her soul as well. This turned things around drastically!
We started some sweet traditions this year…. Bible time tea in the afternoon was one of my favorites! Mornings with so many little ones always felt a bit hectic, which made morning Bible time not a great option for us. Instead, once they were down for naps we would get a snack and some tea and read Bible stories together. We loved going through this book, “The Biggest Story” by Kevin DeYoung this year. And we continued with our Truth and Grace catechism memory work as well.
Oh and our goats had babies, which was a great learning experience for all of us! And the girls helped Daddy with farm chores and fun things like making a tree house. I love that we now have this land for them to explore and learn on. It certainly brings a new element to our homeschool that I absolutely adore! Farmschooling is so much fun!
We decided to join a Classical Conversations group. We had tried it for preK for my oldest and I didn’t care for it then, but thought I’d give it another go now that they were older. I’m SO glad I did! We loved it!!!! It was not without it’s challenges of course, but in the end the pros seemed to outweigh the cons in my mind. One thing I love about the way CC is set up is that the parent is in the room with the child participating and teaching alongside the tutor! I’m not big on handing my kiddos over to someone else for them to teach them, so this was a good fit for us. And I fell in love with the classical model through this whole experience. It has totally renewed my passion for homeschooling, and given me a confidence boost that I had really been needing.
As I began to research a bit more, I found myself very drawn to the “schole” mindset, which is a restful, beautiful, classical model of learning. I began to get really excited about homeschooling again, as my vision was being renewed, however I was not very thrilled with my curriculum choices for my 2nd grader. It isn’t that they were bad (some people use and love them!), they just weren’t jiving with me as the teacher. And even my daughter who is very academic and loves school began to seem a bit weary of her work. We had Bob Jones for English and handwriting and Saxon 2nd grade which we started mid year because we had fallen behind a bit the year before, and although we school through the summer some, it wasn’t enough to fully catch up. Especially considering I had a baby in September. Things have just been crazy! I also had Spell to Write and Read, but I never could figure it out, and with so many little ones, I did not have the time or energy to invest in reading the guide or in attending a workshop. We simply continued to do copywork and learn the phonograms and it seemed to work fine for the moment. Being behind is hard, but I keep reminding myself that we can and will catch up eventually, we just have to remain diligent and faithful.
Although, it was hard and long, I am very thankful for the way that this year shaped me and my view of homeschooling as a whole. I feel like my vision for a beautiful education at home has been restored, and I’m looking forward to all the schole that I will (Lord willing) share with my sweet children for many more years.