Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homeschooling: What's Changed Over the Years, and What Hasn't

Now that I've been at this homeschooling thing for thirteen years, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at what has changed -- me, my children, my approach, our life. Here goes:

How many kids did I have? 

When we started homeschooling: Two. Anne-with-an-e was going into first grade. Betsy was four years old. I didn't think we'd get to have any more children.

When I started blogging about it: Three. Anne was 12, Betsy was 9, Ramona was 3.

Now: Anne is in college, Betsy will be a senior, and Ramona will soon be 11/6th-ish grade.

How did I feel about homeschooling?

When we started homeschooling: Excited. Terrified. Uncertain about long term homeschooling, but desiring it. Confident in my abilities in some areas, fearful about others. Happy. Nervous. Wanted it to be perfect. Thrilled by the freedom.

When I started blogging about it: Excited. Sometimes scared. Relatively confident in most areas. Sometimes worried about ability to do high school. Happy. Nervous. Thrilled by the days that went perfectly. Thrilled by the freedom.

Now: Excited. Rewarded. Proud. Happy. Fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Confident in our approach. Happy to know that nothing's perfect. Thrilled by the freedom.

What were my kids favorite things about homeschooling: 

When we started homeschooling: All the books we read together; all the time we spent together.

When I started blogging about it: Ditto.

Now: On reflection, both Anne and Betsy said that when they look back, the thing they loved most was that they had the time and freedom to follow their interests and talents. Ramona said that her favorite things about homeschooling are that she gets to do things in the middle of the day that not everyone can do: go shopping with me, paint her nails right before choir practice, take a nap, watch H2O with her mom. She also said she loves having so many choices about what she'll study and how she'll spend her days.

How much curriculum do I need? How much did I buy? 

When we started homeschooling: Too much.

When I started blogging about it: Still a little too much. Those catalogs can be so tantalizing.

Now: Only what I need -- based on interests, areas of strength and weakness. We already own a lot of books. And libraries are the best invention ever.

How much did I depend on the library? 

When we started homeschooling: Loads.

When I started blogging about it: Loads.

Now: Loads.

How much is Atticus involved? 

When we started homeschooling: Plenty. He was there for me to talk to. He read to the girls. He let me vent. He whisked them away some days so that I could have a break. He made them laugh. He made me laugh. He asked about our days. He asked the girls what they'd learned. He played music for them. He danced with them. He cooked for them. He gave them books he'd loved as a child.

When I started blogging about it: All of the above. Plus, he got a blog name.

Now: All of the above, plus Shakespeare, American Lit, British Lit, poetry, composition. Monty Python, too. The Ministry of Silly Walks was important to their education. And how to slap someone with a fish, of course. Invaluable.

Am I glad we made this decision? 

When we started homeschooling: Yes! I had the time of my life. Who knew that reading Little House books under our oak tree could be "school"? Best Days Ever.

When I started blogging about it: Yes! Who knew that kids could be so fascinating and so much fun at ages 12, 9, and 3? Best Days Ever.

Now: Yes! Absolutely one of the best decisions I ever made. Who knew that homeschooling would become a lifestyle, a family dynamic, a group journey. A gift. Best. Days. Ever.


Melissa aka Equidae said...

here in Malta homeschooling is illegal but last week the government said he is starting to consider it and I was thrilled as I would really love to homeschool them full time - right now i do it mainly during the summer holidays :)

Liz said...

See, what's a hoot to me is that I remember when you were agonizing about what to do with Anne when she was in kindergarten. I remember encouraging you to try homeschooling. Now, your homeschooling journey is encouraging my homeschooled daughter as she begins her own journey as a homeschooling parent. We always bought too much curriculum (sigh!). I blame it on that "proposed course of study" we had to submit every year. We never USED all that curriculum, but we did buy it. Of course that "proposed course of study" requirement Vermont used to have (now people only have to submit it on certain years), actually ensured that there was enough work for me to do at the DOE for a few summers that it paid the parent portion of my daughter's college expenses. Now with the reduced requirements I don't think they need a summer "reader" anymore. I'm just glad that now the eclectic/leaning towards unschooling option is a bit easier to pull off here. I'm also glad that you've got so many inspiring anecdotes to share. Luci's life is already richer for the book titles I've gleaned from you and for the St. Lucy's bread recipe as well.

Karen Edmisten said...

Prayers for the future of homeschooling for you, Melissa!

Liz, I TOTALLY remember and have always been SO grateful for your encouragement, info, anecdotes, mentoring, and cheerleading. You were always an inspiration to me! Once again ... thank you. :) And, part of the agony for me was that Atticus wasn't on board, but by the end of Anne's Kindergarten year, he magically came into the Church and supported the start of homeschooling. It was a transformative year in so many ways. I know your prayers played a part in that. :)

Karen Edmisten said...

P.S. It's so sweet and generous of you to say that *I* am an encouragement to your daughter. That's a supreme compliment. The beauty of the Body of Christ!

sarah said...

What an encouraging post! :-) Even someone like me who has been homeschooling for 13 years is encouraged by the experiences of those further along the road than I. Really, I soak up those "happy homeschool graduate" stories :-) Your children are blessed to have you and Atticus as parents.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Karen, you continue to inspire me. You and Lissa are my heroes. It's so encouraging to be able to look at where you are and know I can get there. (Plus all the Billy Collins!)

Karen Edmisten said...

Did someone say Billy Collins??

Melanie and Sarah, thank you! You guys encourage and inspire me all the time, so I guess this post is just payback. :)