“How Homeschooling Found Me” by Randi Tisdall

This is a subject near to my heart because in a few (short) years, I plan to homeschool. So I’ve asked a veteran homeschool mom, Randi Tisdall from Beautifully Bohemian to share her insights. Take it away Randi!

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“How Homeschooling Found Me”
By Randi

I never thought I’d homeschool.

In fact, I didn’t think I could make it to the pre-school stage
without tearing my hair out.

I have twin girls, and they are wonderful kids. However, it was tough
being a mom of two toddlers and trying to take care of them while running
a household! During the early years, it was never a question of
whether or not they were going to go to public school.
I mean, they
“had to” right? I did it, my husband did it, and my parents did
it…actually, I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t gone to school. I
was ready and counting the days. And then something magical happened…

…I met a homeschool family.

My husband had been sharing stories for weeks about this wonderful family
he had met, and I was intrigued because I had never been exposed to that
type of family before. They invited us all over for a BBQ one Saturday to
celebrate a special occasion. I think about that now, an afternoon with
these lovely people, and I realize that I was a changed woman that
day.
I saw possibilities I never knew existed!

A light bulb went off. “You mean, I can keep my kids at home and
school them…myself?”

It’s not like I hadn’t heard about homeschooling, but those were
the weird kids. The ones that stayed locked up in the basement, didn’t
have any friends, and smelled funny.

After that lovely afternoon, I learned that homeschoolers can, and
are, much more than society makes them out to be.
These kids were
smart, well behaved, friendly, and well adjusted. The eldest, about 8,
chatted to me about her studies, as she pulled me around her school room.
The little one, about 5, sat at a piano in her swim suit and played
Beethoven. I was blown away, not just by their intelligence, but also by
their excitement and willingness to learn.

I was impressed, but what stuck out the most for me was seeing the love
between the children and their mom. More than anything, I wanted that
love and trust with my own.
Could we develop that kind of relationship if I put their education into my own hands? Could I make that sacrifice to stay at home with them?

From that point on, I really thought about it. Hard. I loved the idea,
but…could I do it?

I thought about my school experience, and it sent shivers down my spine. I
was picked on, I had few friends, and the teachers were less than
unsatisfactory. I came home crying everyday and hated every minute of
it.

I wanted so much more for my kids than what I had experienced growing up.

So, I made a pros and cons list. I started checking out books at
the library about homeschooling
, doing research online, and I had
MANY conversations about it with my husband and parents. They all said “go
for it!” I thought, “I don’t know if I have the patience, but I’m willing
to try!”

Fast forward to now. My kids just completed 3rd grade.

I look back at all the fear I had about homeschooling, and it seems so
silly to me now. Homeschooling is a process, and while
that first year of schooling my own was a challenge, it was necessary to
get to where I am now with my children. If there’s one thing I
learned, it’s that you don’t have to be perfect when you start.
You will develop
your own way of teaching, and yes, you will LEARN patience (otherwise
nothing will EVER get done lol). Your method will evolve, and soon you
will know exactly what is and isn’t successful for your family.
For ours, we have taken the Waldorf approach to schooling, which is more
art and literature based.

Most importantly, the best thing you get out of homeschooling is
the bond between you and your child.
Just like when they said
their first word or used the potty for the first time, you are there now
through a new set of milestones! I was there the first time each of my
children read a book aloud. I was there when they successfully completed
their multiplication tables. And I’ll be there when they graduate and move
on to the next adventure. Yes, the love and trust is there, and it is
strong.

The power to teach with love is in each of us, we just have to let it
blossom.

*Blessings and Love*

-Randi

For more on my adventures in homeschooling, plus tips and lesson
ideas, visit my blog at BeautifullyBohemian.com!

2012 Children’s and Baby’s Reading List

Last week, I talked about how we do preschool at home. In that post, I mentioned how I enjoy reading to my children regularly and provide a lot of exposure to books. When they’re babies, they gnaw on board books ;-) But they get the hang of it as they get older.

Here’s a list of what I’ve read to our children. It’ll be an ongoing list which I’ll update regularly. I used to pull random books off the shelf at the library, but now I’m more picky. I tend to like books that have stood the test of time, but this doesn’t mean that I’ll rule out newer children’s books.

This is what we’ve read so far. A lot of these books we’ve read many, many many times. My two year old likes to hear the same stories over again.

For the Toddler
  • “The Little Red Hen” by Paul Galdone (a great book that talks about the importance of work)
  • “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman
  • “Go, Dog, Go” by P.D. Eastman
  • “Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day” by Richard Scarry
  • “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss (Dr. Seuss is da bomb! His rhymes really capture a young child’s attention.)
  • “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss
  • “Horton Hatches the Egg” by Dr. Seuss
For the Baby

The baby’s books are mostly non-text books that help my little one develop their visual acuity.  I will show the baby the book and talk about the picture. I often let the two year old do this. Gives him a chance to be the “teacher”

  • Black on White by Tana Hoban
  • White on Black by Tana Hoban
  • What Does Baby See?
More books to come!

Today is the last day for the Back to School Ebook Bundle. Get five ebooks for $10

 

“Preschool” at Home

I’m new to teaching my children at home. Whenever I’m new to something I read a lot about it and observe those who are sucessful at it. My philosophy is: “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find out what those ahead of me in an area have done (and succeeded in doing!) and follow that.” In my research on teaching at home, the books by Ruth Beechick were recommended as foundational for anyone embarking on the homeschool journey. I’m now reading her book “The Three R’s.” The way she presents teaching is simple, natural. It coincides with something I observed in my two year old:

Children are natural learners.

Many times, I don’t need to “push” a concept or a habit onto my children. Meaning, I don’t have to sit there and “do school.” Children are naturally curious. They love repetition. They have great faith (Meaning, they believe what you say). And they are copy cats (They mimic what you do). As a parent, I just need to be mindful of what I present to my children and exercise diligence in showing them the same information or activity over, and over, and over again.

This requires a commitment on my part.

For me, this commitment begins in infancy. I aim to consistently feed my four month old at close to the same times (emphasis on ‘close’) every day so she can acquire a sense of order and routine. As the babies grow into toddlerhood, I teach them to put things away when they are finished with them (over and over and over again). Say grace before meals. Say ‘please’ when asking for something (We’re still working on this one!). Remove clothes from a dryer. Dry swiffer the floor. And talk, talk, talk. Talking a lot naturally increases speech and vocabulary.

It’s simple, but hard.

I’ve learned that a lot of what they learn (and not learn) depends on the direction and the tone I set (or don’t set) for them.

But my God given positional authority over my children has helped through the rough patches. (That and prayer!)

I didn’t need to feel insecure in my decision to do preschool at home (something I’ve wrestled with) because, despite my inexperience, God had uniquely created me to be my children’s mother. He also uniquely created my children to be my children. In His design, we will draw on one another’s strengths and be challenged to work on our weaknesses. Becoming a mother has shown me how strong I am. It has revealed hidden gifts and skills which lied dormant. And it has also exposed my character flaws. For example, I have a tendency towards laziness. I have had to be conscious not to model laziness to my children or else they will follow suit.

For the mindful parent, home life can provide a rich learning environment.

In the family, life is brought not only to our doorstep, but into our kitchens, bedrooms, and dens. In the family, life is happening all around us, and it begs to be questioned, evaluated, interpreted and discussed. There is no more consistent, pregnant, dynamic forum for instruction about life than the family, because that is exactly what God designed the family to be, a learning community. (Paul David Tripp)

Children can learn life skills, engage in developmental activities, practice language skills and form a belief system all without a formal education.

As my children grew older, I repeatedly read the same stories to them: Bible stories, Dr. Seuss and other classic children’s stories. I also shown them selected educational videos. When they seemed ready, I added in alphabet flash cards and sight word cards. If it was too much, I put it aside and waited until they matured.

Thankfully, all this “preschool” takes about ten to fifteen minutes a day.

I was surprised that it didn’t take much time or effort on my part. Since we’re together all the time, life has offered many natural opportunities to reinforce the concepts taught in that ten-fifteen minutes of “preschool” each day. However, the chore training may take longer because little ones are easily distracted.

Over a period of time, my two year old began to talk to me about the stories we read (reading comprehension) and mimic some of the simple chores he saw me do around the house. Of course, he didn’t perfect those chores, but perfection wasn’t my goal. I simply wanted to get him into the mindset of helping around the house and developing a basic work ethic (i.e., avoiding idleness).

As my children’s minds mature, we’ll move onto more “complex” activities like learning to read and learning to budget money. But this too will be presented according to their personal readiness and ability.

Children are sponges. At this early stage of life, I plan to fill them with good stuff (good habits, good Bible stories, good children’s stories) which they can later draw on as adults. The toddler may fumble with taking clothes out of a dryer today, but I know he’ll thank me later when he’s living by himself for the first time and there’s no one else to do the laundry but him Smile

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Developing a Vision for Homeschool

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)

My husband has contributed to today’s post on developing a vision for homeschool. Although in many cases, mom does a lot of the day in and day out work of homeschooling, it’s a joint venture. I hope hearing his thoughts will provide a different perspective.

Teaching children begins at birth. Whether informally or formally, a child is always learning and absorbing information from their environment. When we considered how we’d like to shape our children, we needed a long term perspective. We needed a vision. A vision for the men our sons would become; a vision for the women our daughters would become. That’s where we started.

The vision for training our children is for them to have a Spirit of power, a Spirit of love, and a Spirit of a sound mind.  We believe that our children are precious and that God has given them to us in order to nurture and train them to be the best that they can be.  First and foremost, before any academic training, we would like to impart the knowledge of God through the regular reading and memorization the Word of God.  We also want to teach them about the world around them: the local, state, national, and international governments as well as other cultures.  By providing an environment where education is fun and enjoyable, we hope they will grow into lifelong learners. We also want to show them how to become critical thinkers, as opposed to passive absorbers, of information presented to them.

That’s our vision for homeschooling. Have you developed a vision for how you’d like to train your children? A vision, or mission statement, for this important aspect of life will help ensure that you stay the course during those precious years before your children leave your home.

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1/2 Hour Knitting

Last week I received brand new knitting yarn in the mail. I love its soft texture and the muted colors. I’ve started using it to knit a sweater for my soon to be one year old son.  A part of me feels guilty for not having completed a knitting project for him. The other part of me feels like I’m being too hard on myself. (I’m leaning towards the “being too hard on myself” category!)

I enjoy knitting. I first grew interested in the craft at eight years old. As a youngun’, I checked a knitting book out of the library, bought some yarn and needles and made a simple scarf. In the years since then, I let my knitting fall by the wayside. I recently picked it up again in 2008.

Now, it’s an obsession. Well, not exactly an obsession but the mechanical activity of knitting stitches calms my mind and soothes my spirit. It’s a great way for me to focus, especially when most of my days are filled with juggling multiple tasks at home. When a long stretch of time passed without picking up my knitting stash, I found myself missing my hobby. So, I’ve decided to carve out a half hour a day, six days a week, to knit. That may not seem like a lot but it totals up to three hours a week. Over the course of a year, I can complete a lot of knitting projects with three hours a week. I just needed to stop thinking about the “bigness” of the project and break it down into smaller, more reasonable increments of time. Increments which would fit a busy mother’s lifestyle.

Is there a project that seems overwhelming for you to accomplish? Try breaking it down into smaller time increments. Even fifteen minutes a day can make a great impact. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish as you consistently work at the project in tiny chunks of time.

Every so often, I’ll post pictures and updates on the progress of my knitting projects: starting with this baby sweater. Right now, I have a fresh stash of yarn. I’m excited to see what a half an hour a day can produce.