Well, we’ve done it!

Our first ever semester of Humphrey Homeschooling has been completed. I’ve just officially turned in grades and attendance for the first semester, and we now embark on the second…tomorrow!

I have to say, I prayed, debated, and felt somewhat awkward before we actually made the final decision to bring the girls home this year. We have been clear on bringing the kids home for the middle school years, but bringing them home this year was something I didn’t fully anticipate at hand. I wasn’t nervous as we started walking out our daily structure, but the feelings that weighed me down a bit were the actual decision on what curriculum to choose and the concern that there would be enough personal balance for each us.

As a young mother, it felt like so much responsibility in an area that I was not familiar with, and it honestly made me a little overwhelmed at the idea that I wouldn’t have room to breathe as a person or that I might not have as much joy as a mother because I was also teacher.  I absolutely adore my kids, but even too much of a good thing can become….well, too much. And homeschooling is a big responsibility; there is no denying that!

I initially had thoughts to wrestle with: How do you make sure everyone has a full bucket? Mom and Dad included? How do you make sure there is enough one-on-one time with each kiddo? How do you make sure there is enough time to experience diverse friends? How do you make sure that you don’t shelter what needs to be challenged and challenge what needs nurture?

It’s a lot questions to consider.

I didn’t study education. I studied medicine.  Oddly enough, a cold or virus in our house is a weird source of fun for me.  It gives me an opportunity to apply some of my experience and knowledge in an area where I feel comfortable.  It gives me a reason to use my head and skills to help heal, to research options, to tend to wounds.  What I didn’t study was how to become an elementary school teacher.  I didn’t know if I would remember how phonics worked, or how to organize a lesson plan, or how to teach two different class loads at once.  But God said, “Give it a try.” So we did!

What we knew for sure about homeschooling was that David and I were interested in playing a more secure, focused, and designed care-taking role for our kids.  We wanted them to have more time for rest, peace, creativity, travel, and exploration.  I also wanted to be able to prepare more lunches that were fresh and have less exhaustion from trying to constantly fulfill a schedule all the time. And what we’ve found from getting our feet wet this semester, is that we all have more room to breathe, more room to communicate with one another, and we all are working smarter instead of harder.

I’m no homeschool expert;  I’m only 90 days in! But I’m always happy to share a few of the tips that got us here and also a few of the things I’ve learned over the last few months; it actually helps me fuel for the beginning of this coming week.  I’m grateful to say that the sacrifices and initial learning curve have been so worth it, and I breathe a little deeper each time I see how much my kids are growing. It’s a lot of hard work, and it definitely takes planning and action (and mom needs good breaks!), but there is so much satisfaction as well! I hope it’s encouraging to any of you who might be considering homeschooling!

Tips for Considering Creating your own Little School:

  1. Do your research! I interviewed close to 10 of my favorite homeschool mama friends before deciding on a curriculum.  Interviewing friends also gave me a lot of confidence in knowing that many families function in different ways, and there isn’t a right/wrong way to homeschool.  We chose what worked best for our family, and it’s been really fun to see our own style!
  2. Don’t go overboard the first year if you can help it; keep it simple. My personal mantra for my kids is slow and steady; I don’t typically jump in too deep, too fast because I like the learning curve of dissecting each step.  It helps me grow, and it also gives space for emotions and processing–especially for the kids! Less is more as long as it’s quality.  I want to spend more time focusing on my kids’ comprehension and less on how quickly we get through a lesson or what grade we get on a test.  We chose a middle ground of about 3-4 actual “school hours” a day.  Aside from that, we learn and implement as we go throughout our daily life. Homeschooling is a lifestyle.
  3. Give yourself a half-hour every Sunday to plan ahead for the week.  And also give yourself the beauty of a grocery trip alone each week. It helps everyone feel organized and prepared. P.S. Kids eat a lot when they are schooling at home, but meal prep can be part of school work; and my kids love it! BONUS!
  4. We do great with structure, so I have a general schedule we follow each day with some room to ebb and flow depending on the weather (outside playtime) and other necessary appointments (sometimes “school” is a trip to the dentist/chiropractor! You can learn anywhere!) The kids love this and align to both the structure and also the grace of some flexibility.
  5. We work hard in the morning from 9-11 with Math and Language Arts. These are the most taxing on the brain for us, so it’s best to do them every M-F at this time; I’m fairly strict about this part of our schedule. We usually take a break from 11-1 and then give ourselves a little more relaxation when we work through our Bible/History lesson and Health in the afternoon. We end school early at noon on Fridays or do a fun activity in the afternoon! The weekend is long and full of free play.
  6. Enjoy watching your kids grow! It’s beautiful and a privilege to have this time together. I have loved seeing the improvement from day-to-day as well as the confidence in them when mastering skills. It gives me a great glimpse of hope for the world.
  7. Empathize when the work is hard for your kiddo, and then be positive in creating another option for overcoming the obstacle.  It almost always works out well when we get creative and stay upbeat.  Tears will flow at times, but the reward that comes with problem-solving and perseverance is so wonderful!
  8. Require that the kids get dressed everyday before school.  Mom needs to get dressed every day too. It helps morale and focus.
  9. Moms need to take a time-out break at least once a week that has absolutely NOTHING to do with mothering or teaching.  I like to wander around the store and look at shoes, or go grab coffee with a friend, or just drive around town in my mini-van with my music of choice way up.  It helps remind me that I’m a person outside of my house.  I also like to take on freelance work at times because I am growing in a career while also maintaining a house; it’s a good balance for me and makes me feel fully alive! (David also helps me with extra assignments, curriculum electives or additions, and practical support! This is so essential; and it opens an avenue for a lot of creativity within our family time together!)
  10. Exercise at least 3X a week. It’s good for you, it’s good for your mental clarity, it encourages you to be the best version of yourself. The kids have fun with it, too!

That’s all for now! I’m sure I’ll have more to share as we continue in our journey. Semester 1 was great; I’m excited for the connection, growth, and joy that comes from digging deep together as a family and having a lot of space to become great versions of ourselves!  I’m sure days of challenge will come, but I also know that the reward is worth it.

XO,

Sarah

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