We have been homeschooling since 2008 when we pulled my oldest son, Nathan, out of public school. Now, I have to admit that I love public school. I loved my own school days and, up until this point in 2008, I had planned on being a public school teacher. I had no plans of homeschooling. Unfortunately, the school system didn’t want to work with us, concerning my son’s ADHD. His teacher actually told me that she would just rather I give him medication and not worry about the rest. The rest…being a 30 lb weight loss in a few month’s time, depression, anger, and many other troubling side effects. I decided that maybe I could just teach him myself and see how it goes. After all, I had planned on teaching a room full of students….how hard could one be?
I quickly realized that I knew nothing about homeschooling and turned to the experts….my local homeschool mama friends. We stumbled around with curriculum and schedule and life, really, for the first year. However, I did my research and our second year was much better. Since Nathan was so used to public school, a mostly school-at-home approach worked best for him. By the second year, we added in Kaleb and just had fun. A lot of books. A lot of worksheets. A lot of crafts. A LOT of library time!
Soon after, I discovered The Well-Trained Mind forum board and was hooked! This approach worked well and was similar enough to our school-at-home that the boys never missed a beat. We had a few GREAT years!
However, I began to notice a discontentment in myself over time. I would drop this curriculum, add that one. Changed our schedule around. Nothing seemed to get us back to the joy that we had experience those first few years. I just became frustrated with all of it. My oldest spent his 9th grade year in public school and I was kind of relieved. Homeschool wasn’t fun anymore. Or even enjoyable. Or tolerable. It was actually pretty terrible. My youngers and I kept at it though. I had a 3rd grader, 1st grader, and preschooler so I kept it pretty light that year. I combined all of the subjects that I could. We sat on the couch and read as much as we could. And I didn’t stress about the rest. We found a little bit of our joy. Nathan came back home in the 10th grade and we tried again. The joy didn’t last and we found ourselves once again miserable. I decided that maybe I just couldn’t teach upper grades, and my boys should probably go into public school once they reached a certain grade.
Fast forward to January of last year:
My oldest graduated with his GED. He just began to refuse to do schoolwork so I told him he needed to work on getting his GED before he turned 18. On his 18th birthday, he passed the last test. It took that smartypants only two weeks to take all of the required tests to receive his GED!! That made me feel so much better about our homeschool. Even in the midst of struggle, he was still learning.
With a new school year beginning in the fall and the pressure of high school temporarily out of the picture, I declared Fall 2016-Spring 2017 the year of Fun School. If it was fun and even remotely educational, we were going to do it. And really we have. Three different sports in the fall. So many field trips. Fun days. Play dates. Parties. All the fun things.
I also declared this the year that I would figure out how to joyfully teach upper grades because my youngers were begging to stay home through high school. If they really want to stay home, I decided to find a way to make it happen for them.
Quite by accident, I found The Delectable Education podcast in December. A new homeschool mom had posted a question about Charlotte Mason. She mentioned that she had been listening to this podcast. I didn’t even consider it at first. Honestly, I believed that it wouldn’t be a good fit for us. I had looked at it before and discarded the idea….for some reason I can’t remember now. It wasn’t until last week (Jan 19th) that I finally remembered that podcast and decided to check it out.
After that first episode, I was hooked. I quickly realized that the parts of our homeschool that I loved and cherished actually followed the CM method. Our morning time. All those books. And simple narration. I didn’t know that this was an actual method. I was just trying to simplify our homeschool. The parts that I didn’t like, well, every one of them went against Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. During the second episode, I listened while I pulled every living book on American history that I could find from our bookcases and stacked them in our living room.
We are only in our first week, but oh the joy. I’ve added a little to our morning time. I’ve lessened the time we spent on individual work. No more dawdling at the table for hours over math. We’ve spent less time on schoolwork but already covered more than we did in previous weeks. Isn’t that crazy? No tears. No fussing. No homework.
I’m working on a more permanent schedule for us and would love to share it with you as soon as I have it finished. If you love the Charlotte Mason method, please comment with advice or maybe a book suggestion. I do plan on ordering The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and of course I will continue with The Delectable Education podcast.
I am so excited to share the next few weeks in our homeschool. Thank you for *listening* to my ramblings.