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Our Homeschool Adventure

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My husband, Steve, and I enjoyed one year of married bliss and then had three children during the next three years. The toddler years were heavily scheduled with Mommy & Me classes, Sunday school and Gymboree. Afternoons were spent finger-painting, playing toy instruments, and building things from blocks and LEGOS. I started preparing Tucker for kindergarten about the time he graduated from diapers to Batman underwear. I called my Aunt Polly, a schoolteacher in Texas, for advice. She recommended I find a good phonics program and some colorful math workbooks. When it was finally time to enroll Tucker in kindergarten, he could read the longest of short-vowel words.

Here was my dilemma: Was Tucker ready for formal schooling or was he too ready?
Steve and I decided to keep Tucker home another year. In the meantime Haven, who was almost 4, joined us in the schoolroom (aka the kitchen table), while Clancy, 2 1/2, worked in her high chair. Before you could say “no college degree,” I had succeeded in teaching a kindergartner, first-grader, and second-grader “reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic.” We were having so much fun, you couldn’t have paid me to send my kids to school.

During my second year of home schooling, we gathered every morning for an hour of “hero” stories and handwriting practice. We worked on Bible memory verses, sang and took turns praying. From there, each child found a “studying spot”—under the dining room table, behind the couch or outside on the trampoline.

After our daily dose of math and language arts, the remainder of the morning was given to exploration of a specific subject. Monday was American history. Tuesday was science. Wednesday was creative writing. Thursday was devoted to educational games, and Friday was reserved for field trips. When the Van Gogh exhibit came to town, we read about Vincent’s life and then spent a day at the art museum. We visited the transportation museum and the children’s science center, and I enrolled the kids in music appreciation classes at the Hollywood Bowl.

Shortly into year three, I was asked to write my first book. I tried teaching in the morning and writing in the afternoon, but I wasn’t able to adequately teach my children and write a book at the same time.

I finally let Steve drop the kids off at their grandmother’s house every day on his way to work. I prepared folders of schoolwork, and Grandmother supervised their studies. She had home schooled my younger brother for a few years. Thankfully, she’s a game-loving, bike-riding, cookie-baking grandma, so they learned many things with her that I couldn’t have taught them myself. They stayed on track with their times tables and spelling rules, and learned that they can always find unconditional love at Grandmother’s house.

Year four we made the agonizing decision to place the kids in a Christian school. Despite their inexperience with institutional learning, my children excelled not only in the classroom but also on the playground (and we all know that sometimes the schoolyard is the more difficult arena).

The next year we motor-home schooled! The whole family set out in an Allegro Bus RV to discover America. We took the ultimate field trip, visiting history museums, state capitals, factory tours, friends, family and churches across America. This was home schooling at its finest.

For the next two years I enrolled all three kids in the Alpha Omega Online Academy. They did their work on the computer and sent it to their teacher in cyberspace. She graded it and sent it back by the next morning, with corrections, notes and assignments for the day.

Our latest adventure is enrollment in a local homeschool academy. The children attend classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, they do their assignments on Tuesdays and Thursdays at home, and Fridays are for biology lab, drama classes, foreign language, choir and sports.

As you can tell, there is really not one right way to homeschool. That’s one of the wonderful things about homeschooling!

 

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