We started homeschooling our oldest when he started Kindergarten. Our main reasons were to give him more one-on-one time, let him explore what interested him, and to spend more time reading together and talking about God and His creation. We loved that "homeschooling" is "family oriented". We had a couple friends homeschooling. How hard could it be?
I'm so glad we started in Kindergarten. Wish we would've always had that mindset. The funny thing is is that we started out like many homeschooling families. We tried to "imitate" a "school" at home. We had our flag up, our alphabet border and posters, our schedule. We quickly abandoned the schedule and found our rythym to our day. We delved into our Kindergarten Unit Study from My Father's World and loved it! We spent our days discovering God's Creation while learning the alphabet, days of the week, art, science, and math! MFW curriculum was great for our preschoolers to do along with us as well! And we did join a small homeschool co-op at our church.
Looking back that very first morning taught me more about "how" and "what" homeschool should look like in our home than anything else. Just before we started off, we got a phone call to turn on the TV. The first of the twin towers had just been hit. We watched in terror as the scene we all know played out. I can't remember if I sent the kids upstairs to play or what, but when our morning "school" time started, it was with tears in our eyes as we said the "Pledge of Allegience". Our morning got off on a different schedule that day, but nothing was more important than stopping and praying for our country and the lives that were lost. Taking the time for "real" life, unscripted, and God-led should've always been my focus, but sadly I let alot of other things creep in.
Sadly, I started to compare myself, my family, my children to other homeschooling families. I had a lot of growing up to do during this time. But it was very hard not to compare myself to others when I was feverishly trying to see what everyone else was doing. Making sure I was "doing" this right. That I had the right curriculum. And so on! It was exhausting. And I paid for this constant compraring dearly! I lost some of the JOY! I couldn't let myself believe that I already had everything that God needed to do this job. To trust Him and enjoy the process! It's alot of pressure! It's alot of letting "go" and relying on Him! To take the time to find out by just "playing" with each child, their learning style. And then I found out that I had a distinct teaching style as well.
I learned the hard way that OUR family will not now or ever look like anyone else's. Try as I might, we are not a Norman Rockwell family (not that I even want that). My children bicker and fight (heaven forbid). There are belches at the dinner table (gasp! followed by "excuse me"). There is "not" so appropriate dinner conversations going on around our table. My older three have never "taken" to music (There goes the idea of a traveling music tour!) Doing daily devotions is not something that comes easily for me, therefore, my children (cringe!). Does that make us any less Godly? NO. Does God judge my family because this is who we are? NO. Believe me HE created this Crazy Funny Farm in the first place! In some homeschooling groups I know there is quite a high expectation for others. Or do I put it on myself and again assume that "they" have it all together?
Although internally I was struggling, we had a blast. We built forts. Jumped in puddles. Grew a small garden in our neighborhood garden. Read books snuggled on the couch. Watched Bible Stories on video. Listened to Adventures In Odyssey tapes. (Tapes and videos? What are those?) Made models of the earth and moon and participated in the science fair. And so much more.
That about sums up our first year in Kindergarten. Next will be our Adventures and Misadventures of First Grade.