I remember what it was liking starting out with homeschooling back in 2001. I had that crazy eyed look of a mom frantic to find out all the things… and to figure out a way to WIN at homeschooling. Homeschooling, like life, is a long journey, though. It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It encompasses all of life. My husband (who has been the hands-off homeschool dad for most of the journey) told me the other day that even HE homeschools. He teaches himself how to fix things online. He calls himself a “YouTube” mechanic. He did pretty darn good at fixing our air conditioning last week, so I’m not complaining one iota. The point is… even dad has succumbed to the goodness of the homeschool lifestyle and rolls with it, now.
My 21 year old amazes me with stories about history (I thought he wasn’t listening or remembering most of my crazed history packed lessons when he was in homeschool). My 19 year old amazes me with her talent in writing (she’s an eloquent writer and gifted communicator). My ONE MATH LOVER who is still only 9 (Lord, please let him stay this way) is continually blowing my mind asking for more lessons and doing them without me asking! And…. my 7 year old finally sat still long enough to read. Yes, he’s 7. My late bloomer with reading (my girl learned at 3). This mama learned the hard way that pushing a child to learn something long and hard only makes them recoil and hate learning in general, so I have done “School” a lot differently with the second set.
One thing that never changed? This resource: “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons“. Every single child in my school (all four of them) learned to read with this one, simple book that I either got free from a friend or paid a few bucks for at a used curriculum sale. I have the older cover with faded yellow tattered edges and 1970’s looking sketched illustrations on the front. My 7 year old LOVES his reading lessons. THIS is why I waited until he was ready to sit down and sit still… and showed interest. Interest helps.
Reading, after all, is the number ONE thing you can teach your kid as a homeschool parent (aside from good moral character). Every other subject and lesson can be taught to ones-self through the ability to read. Reading opens up the wonderful world of all sorts of books….
I love this quote from Trivium Pursuit:
“Force feeding academic studies before age ten is not an efficient use of your time, is not going to accomplish all of the good which you desire, and may actually work some harm. Of course the exact age differs from child to child, but about age ten the child becomes developmentally mature enough to pursue studies which are more academic. We suggest that formal academics should be the focus after age ten, hence the focus before age ten should be to build a good foundation for the later academics. The way to accomplish this is to exercise the mind so as to develop those parts of the mind which are appropriate for the specific age of the child. The early years are the time to sow the seeds of honoring God and parents, developing the capacity for language and the appetite for learning, enriching the memory, encouraging creativity, and instilling a work and service ethic. These are the kind of things which will lay a good foundation for the formal academics later. First things come first. Academics must be built upon a good moral foundation.”
She goes on to mention ten great things you can do to teach your kids prior to formal academics and curriculum. Prolific reading to and with your kids is on the list. That really is a great article… even if I’m not so great at managing a schedule like the one Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn suggest!
Now, I think waiting until ten to start formal curriculum would be too long for my youngest. He’s still got a wild wiggle, but it is much easier to manage at seven than it was at five. Starting Kindergarten later with boys is not a bad idea. I did this with my eldest also (he did Kinder at home with me at 4-5 and again at ages 5-6 in private school). He could have benefited from my more laid back, aged, chill teaching methods, I know. Poor kid; he was my guinea pig.
My 7 year can focus really well for short stints (a Charlotte Mason trick); especially if we have some sort of reward system in place. I’ve been amazed at how much he can get done – even pushing himself to do things he doesn’t really enjoy – when watermelon slices or trampoline fun with the neighbor are offered “after he’s finished”.
Don’t get me started on how sad I am that the neighbors moved out this week…
Anyway, as a homeschool mama, from me to you… I wanted to make sure and share this book. If you are new to homeschooling, just starting out, looking for basic homeschool resources to get started with your young ones… this is one of my top ten books that I always recommend. I now have FOUR out of FOUR readers in the house… and although my youngest one is in the beginner’s books, I have almost taught myself out of a job in the subject of reading. Now, if I can get all the rest of the subjects covered as well over the next eleven years or so, I will have graduated my post as Homeschool Mom.