Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How is Homeschooling Working for You Right Now?

Welcome to 2018!

Do you like fresh starts and new beginnings as much as I do?

Although you might be in the middle of your homeschool year, the new year is still a great time to reflect on your homeschool year so far, and refocus moving forward.

In our house, we have a lot of reflecting to do, because most of what I planned for the school year -- well, it pretty much fell apart. I still have a lot to learn about how my daughter best learns and thrives.

Field trip to the pet store. She's teaching ME about fish.

I want to tell the truth about this. We are still in our first year of homeschooling, so naturally we do not have it all figured out yet. But I suspect that's not just a first-year thing. It's a homeschool thing -- and out there on the internet, I don't see a lot of the hard realities of homeschooling. I see beautiful spaces, clever crafts, happy smiling children. 

You know, the highlight reel.

But when I was on the fence about homeschooling, making the decision to pull my kiddo out of public school, I wanted real life. I wanted to know about the hard days, the struggle, the insecurities, the really of swimming upstream when it seems like the rest of everyone is on the river of traditional schooling, going with the flow, with lives that revolve around those events and those schedules. I know that stuff fills my FB news feed. Yours, too?

Reflect and Refocus

It's blatantly obvious that my daughter and I have pretty much directly opposite learning styles. The way schools teach worked for me. I love to read and write and research. I'm not really a visual learner, I love to be still. 

Give me a checklist, books, some fresh notebook paper, a workbook, highlighters, pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and I'm one happy camper!

So it was pretty thrilling to research curricula when we dove into homeschooling. So much of what's out there is geared for my learning style, with maybe some hands-on activities "to appeal to all learners" thrown in for good measure. Progress is evaluated, just like at school, by writing -- whether it's worksheets, creative journaling, workbooks, or what have you. 

I ooohed and aaahed over things that appealed to me and my learning style, and reasoned that if it was all More Fun Than School then B would totally be into it. Right?


B is a visual and kinesthetic learner. Worksheets are pure torture. Writing is her least favorite way to convey information. That's kind of an understatement, really. 

She questions things. At school she would say, in first grade, "Why are you telling me to sound out this word and purposely spell it wrong? Why can't I look up the right way to spell it?" For her, learning needs to be straightforward and make sense.

She moves. She moves while I read aloud. She moves while she eats. She moves while she's doing an online learning game. Moving helps her retain information. Like with so many kids, school was struggle for her, with all the stillness and desk work.

Making friends with the ferrets and talking about how unique they are.

She loves to talk and process what she's learning in a social way. Maybe you have a child like this, too!

Do you have kinesthetic learners in your family?

Realizing that our homeschool was going to look nothing like I pictured in my head the day I sent in my Declaration of Intent was the first step for me in carving a new path and bringing more joy to our days. Perhaps you're longing for more joy in your days, too, and a simpler way forward.

The new year is a perfect time to sit down and reflect on what is working for your family and where the friction points are. Here's a fun quiz to help you discern your children's learning styles:

Hip Homeschooling Learning Style Quiz

I also really like this summary of learning styles:

HSLDA Learning Styles Checklist

It can be really hard to let go of our own ideas about how homeschooling should look, and how our kids should learn. At least, it was for me. And it's challenging when friends and family question what's happening in your home and expect it to look just like school!

So I'd just like to encourage you (and myself) to really be brave and commit to making 2018 about finding what works for our children as homeschoolers, for our family routines, and for ourselves as homeschooling moms.

  • Your family's life and choices may look nothing like any other homeschoolers you know, and that's OK. 
  • You may abandon curriculum completely and start cobbling together learning tools and resources that work for your kids, that's OK. 
  • You may need to take a break and deschool. That's OK. 
  • You might need to leave the co-op that's not working to find more peace and get a day of sleeping in -- that's OK. 

Find what works. Do what works. Keep trying. Swim upstream. Jump in another river altogether.

Learning about the Humane Society and playing with the cats up for adoption.

And share below what you are learning, trying, and doing. I'd love to hear from you!

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