Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Homeschooling Just One

That's what I'm doing this year for the first time ever.

Yeah, sure, in a way I had just one "student" when we first started homeschooling. Anne-with-an-e was seven years old, Betsy just four. Anne was (I'm sorry, sweetie) my experimental student. I tried out different methods on her, tinkered with ideas, approaches, math curricula.  But Betsy was always there, soaking in the atmosphere, listening to the books, playing with the manipulatives, eating the cookies. I never felt that I was homeschooling only one daughter -- we were living a homeschooling life together.

But, now that my older daughters are out in the world, taking classes from other people, I am finally, truly, homeschooling just one child. Anne and Betsy don't need me, which is really great in its way. There's real fulfillment in knowing that my daughters were well prepared for the stage of life they're living now. And, there's relief in knowing that their academic work is their business. (I couldn't answer a Chemistry question if you paid me in chocolate and coffee. Truly, Anne's Chemistry homework is a mystery to me on a par with the Trinity. Intricacies unseen, combinations that produce whole new entities ... it boggles my mind. If it isn't explained on a Jesse Pinkman level, I don't understand it.)

And that leads me to the present, in which I am homeschooling only one daughter. Over the summer, I wondered about how this year would proceed: What would it be like for the two of us to be on our own? Would we get bored with each other? Would we feel as if we were rattling around the house, waiting for others to join us? Or would we dig in, full of anticipation and excitement, ready to tackle hundreds of projects and take on every academic challenge?

The answer is (as it always seems to for me) in the middle. Yes, we miss Anne and Betsy, but Ramona and I have settled into The New Normal and we are loving it. There's a delightful balance to our days. There are outside activities (a weekly art class, another monthly art class, piano lessons, choir), as well as group activities that we both participate in (her writing group, swimming weekly with other homeschoolers.) And then there are the treasured days when we don't have to leave the house -- we tackle math, read aloud, read aloud, read aloud, write, read poetry, participate in NaNoWriMo, watch Food Network together, make carrot cake, learn about extracting DNA from saliva (hmmm, was it deliberate that I followed up the food references to the saliva reference?), create art, and crafts, and minions.

Sometimes we can even plan activities or outings that work with Anne and Betsy's schedules as we did last Friday when we made a last-minute plan to see Big Hero 6 together (review from Ramona coming soon), or getting to daily Mass together.

Yes, I'm homeschooling just one. But it's a rich, full life.

And we love it.

Ramona, at the end of summer. 


Liz said...

You know, I really loved those 3 years when I had just one to be homeschooling. It was more relaxed, yet somehow it just flew by. She took a college class, she rode her horse, we went to riding lessons, she took piano lessons, I tutored other people's kids. We had biology lab at our house. We had co-op English. She learned to drive and I rode Peter Kreeft's Summa of the Summa to her on the way to riding lessons. She did RCIA. She knit an Aran sweater. She sewed a tailored suit. We had lots of lambs. Life was incredibly full and while we missed her brother during the week, he was usually home on the weekends anyway. Yup, it just flew by. Just like the first 6 weeks of your first baby's life is a very long 6 weeks, and the first 6 weeks of your second baby's life are over in a flash, so the first years of homeschooling seem long, and the last years with only one seem incredibly short.

sarah said...

As someone who has homeschooled just one child all through, I enjoyed reading this post, it reminded me of halcyon days in the past. Of course, I can't relate too closely, since homeschooling one child in a family of three children is very different from homeschooling an only child. The environment is different, the social issues are different. (And I think too American homeschoolers are generally so very lucky with what is available to them. Such a richness of opportunity!) Your Ramona is blessed to be homeschooled by you. :-)

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Jesse Pinkman!

Love me my Jesse. :)

Margaret in Minnesota said...

And that wasn't the most erudite remark, which seems both fitting and inappropriate. The truth is,we are tottering on the brink of homeschooling through high school, and you will be one of the FIRST people I call.

So be warned.

Abby said...

Aw man, this made me miss being homeschooled! It is so different, being the homeschooling mom, rather than the homeschooled kid. I didn't realize how much doubt and angst being the mom could entail (ok, really, that's just part of being a mom anyway I guess). Of course I'm in the first year, not the later ones. It must be nice to reach the point where your fears of messing up your children's education and upbringing have mostly proved groundless - and yet bittersweet, since just when you reach that point, they fly the nest. Much as my introvert self sometimes staggers under the weight of the wants and needs of little ones, I truly can't imagine what it will be like when they are no longer here needing me all the time. Anyway, my mom was right. Those three years of being the "only" one were very happy ones. Keep reading lots and lots to Ramona (I'm sure you do, anyway). Many of my happiest memories, and much of my most important learning, took place in the car on the way to riding lessons :)

ellie said...

Oh the memories .... It was my first, not my youngest, who homeschooled as an only child -- he was aged 10.5 and 13 when his younger sister and brother were born. My daughter's first year as a registered homeschooler, aged 7, was his last. So yes, the wee ones were around during his teen years, but they never actually homeschooled together. It was such a different life and different education from that which his younger siblings are experiencing.

I do look ahead from time to time, wondering what it will be like with just Joshua for his last three years, after his sister turns 18! Especially because they are at exactly the same level, academically, which means that when she graduates from homeschool-high-school at 18, he will also be finished with the same academic track. But he'll only be 15.5 that autumn she turns 18 and I have already decided, for a variety of reasons :-) that neither of them will be 'finished' homeschooling until the season they turn 18.

So those last few years with him homeschooling alone will be very special. :-)

tanita✿davis said...

I so love that ALL OF THAT - which sounds DELIGHTFUL - is learning. Why didn't we know that before???

Why did we get to do all this?
That lucky ducky.

Karen Edmisten said...

Ah, so many great comments! Loved hearing from mother and daughter, Liz and Abby! Great to hear both your perspectives, and I'm grateful you took the time to share them.

Sarah, I think your daughter is quite blessed to be homeschooled by you, too!

Mags, I'm here for the asking.

Ellie, it's the kind of thing, isn't it, that we can't really predict (what it will be like, I mean) until it gets here. :)

Tanita, I know, right? I wish I could have had this homeschooling life! :) It wasn't on the horizon when I was a kid....