You’re warm and snuggly in your bed. Cozy. Dreaming. Beep, Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeep!!! Your peaceful reverie is interrupted by the shrill insistence of the alarm clock. If you’re lucky, the ones with the soft beep work for you. If not, you may have one of those awful ringing contraptions that causes you to levitate off the bed when it wakens you.
I really, really don’t like waking to alarm clocks. Man wasn’t meant to wake at artificially designated times. We are meant to wake when we are rested or even with the light. And as my kids have (blessedly) grown out of the baby and toddler stages, they have become much better sleepers. Occasionally, I even wake before they do. But I just love waking to the sound of them giggling or chatting in their rooms. I love that they have the unhurried flexibility to wake when their growing bodies are rested. Then, and only then, do we start our day.
My hair stylist asked me today what drew me to homeschooling. I’m still very new to it–we’ve only been at it for six months–but one of the biggest aspects of homeschooling that I treasure is the freedom and flexibility. Although I developed a schedule at the beginning, we have embraced it as a loose routine, rather than a clock-dictated regimen. There’s a school bus that drives around my neighborhood at 6:45 am! That means the kids are up way before that to get dressed and eat and run out to the bus. Whether we wake at 7 am or 8 am, it doesn’t matter. If we skip schoolwork on a Thursday, we can easily make it up on Saturday. We are never rushing to make snacks or lunches, get dressed, or catch a bus in the morning. Our days are ours, and we have really taken advantage of that. Midweek field trips have been awesome. In October alone, we did a train ride, visited the local art museum (a picture of my daughter with an interactive exhibit is at right), went to the zoo, went to the circus, and went to Disney on Ice.
Homeschooling has also allowed us to maintain an afternoon nap, for both our almost 3-yr old and our 4.5 yr old. They both still happily nap 90 min-2 hrs daily.
So flexibility in scheduling is a great perk. Another is flexibility in curriculum. We began the year using Singapore math and discovered after several months that it just wasn’t a good fit for my daughter. We have switched to Math-U-See, which comes with a DVD of video clips and uses lots of hands-on manipulatives and seems to be “clicking” much better. If she was in a public school and the curriculum wasn’t working for her, it’d be tough cookies. What’s working for us now is Explode the Code for language arts, Math-U-See for math, unit studies for science, and I Love America for history. We do a couple art projects or crafts each week. We use bean bags and a parachute for music and p.e.
The curriculum, then, is specifically tailored to my daughter’s learning style and the “class” pace is dictated by her learning. You can’t beat a class size of one for personalized instruction. I know when she’s confused about new material. She can’t slip through the cracks if she doesn’t understand something. At the same time, if she immediately grasps a new concept, we don’t have to do 50 practice problems.
I love this comic of 20 Great Reasons to Homeschool. It hits on a lot of the biggies for me–everything from randomly baking during the day, to socializing with people of all ages (we go to the gym, library storytime, MOPS, and have playdates all the time, so socialization is not an issue), to teaching values. I also really appreciate that my kids are eating food that I prepare for them and we can talk about nutrition and what’s really healthy at mealtimes and they aren’t comparing their lunches to other kids’ cookies, chips, and pizza.
We are living life in the present and I can’t say whether or not we will always homeschool, but for now, we are a happy, healthy, well-rested family.