Homeschool Open House

Tiany is hosting an incredible Homeschool Open House at Less of Me~More of Him. I've been enjoying others' posts so much, but really hadn't planned to participate...but at the last minute, I decided I had to get in on the fun! :)

For those who don't know, I'm Jennifer, married to Billy for 11 1/2 years and mom to Peter (9), Bayley (8), Emlyn (6 on Saturday!), and Ammah Grace (3). I was homeschooled my last two years of high school (back in the dark ages of the mid-80s when most people had never heard of homeschooling :)), and my younger brother was homeschooled through all 12 years. I knew as a high schooler that I wanted to homeschool my children someday, and I began to pray for a husband who would be as committed to that as I was. God answered that prayer with a husband who had never met a homeschooler before we met, but who quickly became, if anything, even more committed than I was! I am so thankful for his support and commitment to allowing me to be at home full-time and having our children at home.

One reason I was hesitant about posting in the open house is that we are far from having it *together*. I had done research and gone to homeschool conventions and read all the homeschooling books and magazines for years before we had children, and thought I had my plans all made and things all figured out. *grin* Then came real life! Things have not gone at all according to plan. We have not had a single year of our homeschooling journey, since *officially* beginning in 2003, that has gone according to *plan*. We have experienced my dad's failing health and his death, pregnancy problems and the birth of our preemie, Ammah Grace, and her time in NICU 2.5 hours away from home, a major, long-term extended family crisis, my own unexpected health issues, and Billy's ever-changing job schedule. So, our "typical homeschool day" has usually been anything but typical.

Billy is the ER Case Manager at a local hospital, and for most of last year, he worked 2nd shift. We shifted our day accordingly, getting up later in the morning, going to bed later in the evening, and doing the bulk of our schooling in the afternoon. This year, Billy is working days, so we will have a more *typical* schedule. I'm still working out the kinks in it...but here is the basic plan:

5:30 Mom up, Quiet Time
6:00 Mom Planning, Reading, Computer, or Project Time (I also do custom scrapbook work occasionally, so this would be time to work on custom orders when needed. It is also a flexible time for days when physical issues require a *slower* morning.)
7:00 Billy's lunch ready, mom's chores, supper prep
8:00 Kids up, breakfast
8:30 Kids dressed and chores
9:30 School
Bible and Singing (all together)
Math (Girls copywork while I start math with Peter, Peter work independently while I start math with girls.)
(Break/snack between math and language arts)
Language Arts
12:00 Lunch (M/W Peter and Em fix while I read with Bay, T/Th Bay and Gray fix while I read with Em)
12:45 School
Science or Music/Art (all four--science 2 days per week and Music/Art 2 days per week))
1:15 Character (We'll be doing Plants Grown Up for Peter and Polished Cornerstones for the girls during this time...as well as some unit studies on specific character traits all together.)
1:45 P.E. (all four)
2:05 History (all together)
2:45 Kids free time, mom *flex time* for phone calls, computer, paperwork, etc.
3:45 Afternoon chores
4:45 Mom supper prep, fold laundry, iron
5:45 Supper

As far as structure, I'm learning that our family works best with a loosely structured framework to use as a guide, rather than a rigid schedule. Our schedule will be a tool to (hopefully) keep mom on track and keep us moving in the right direction. We have spent so much time the past few years in *survival mode* that my goal now is to develop routines in housework and school to restore order to our home and family. I've also been working on developing some forms to help us get life back in order this year. (More about them in another post. :))

(these are still works-in-progress :))

We live in a 60+ year old home that was my grandparents' home when I was growing up...and I have always felt that with three bedrooms and four children, we really didn't have a place for a dedicated schoolroom. Our dining room has always been our central school location, with various school activities happening in the living room, and lately, our entry hall/reading nook. We have finally made the decision to turn our dining room (which is actually the largest room in our house!) into a schoolroom...so now, instead of schooling in our dining room , we will be eating in our schoolroom! We are in the midst of pulling wallpaper off the walls, moving furniture around, and painting at the moment (so check back for updates on our progress there!) No pictures of the chaos in the dining room at the moment, but here are a couple of our newest favorite learning spots:

(Our Entry Hall/Reading Nook)

(Our *Not Exactly* New Piano)

You may notice I haven't mentioned curriculum yet. I've saved it to combine with my *must share tips*, which are "Don't compare your family with others," and "Be flexible." Or, "Seek what God wants for your family/school, and do it." I mentioned earlier that I had planned to homeschool since I was in high school...and I thought I had everything planned to perfection. *Nothing*...from our schedule to our curriculum to my children's learning pace has gone as I expected. I had planned to be a die-hard Bob Jones user from kindergarten to graduation. When we started, I quickly realized this did not *fit* with our family...and yet I was so determined that it *must*...because that was the *plan*. I thought that my children would all learn to read early and with little effort, as I did...and that has not been the case. I thought we would have a very scheduled, orderly life, and we would be advanced in everything. Then we had 4 straight years of complete chaos in our family, and we are...*gasp*...BEHIND.

Through all of this, we have learned that oftentimes God's goals are different than ours. He has lessons to teach us that are sometimes more important than science and history. He has lessons to teach us and our children that can only come through difficult times...and that may be at the cost of our well-laid *plans* for our school. God has taught us, and our children, many lessons about His Sovereignty, His love, His faithfulness, and His power through the past few years that would not have been the same had they been *in school*. We are still striving for excellence in academics, but have learned that sometimes our *pace* and God's aren't the same in that area. We are thankful for the opportunities that God has given through homeschooling, and we are excited about our plans for a (hopefully) more normal year this year to get caught up academically.

And our curriculum? We have gone in a completely different, very eclectic direction with our curriculum/schooling style. The only thing we are still using from Bob Jones (which I still think is an *excellent* curriculum...just not a good fit for our family) is Bible. I love Bob Jones Bible and use it as a *spine* for our Bible time. We use a wide variety of resources now, and have been excited about using notebooking/lapbooking and multi-grade teaching in many areas. Two of our favorite changes have been Considering God's Creation for science, and Mystery of History for history. Once I finally let go of my *plans*, it has been exciting to see how God has provided things that are just the right *fit* for our family!

Thanks for visiting our open house! Check back for updates on how our year is going (and more info on our schoolroom redo and how our new planning sheets work this year...) And check out all the other open house posts at Less of Me, More of Him for great ideas and inspiration!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have enjoyed reading your homeschooling journey. It is amazing that you knew you wanted to homeschool that early on. I agree that families need to rely on God's guidance regarding a curriculum or what He would have for them to use. Last year we started out really well with our "schedule" and had a major car accident the end of Sept., several illnesses, and loss of my husband's job in Dec. So we did the best to just survive and get through each day. It was a miracle the boys and I even survived the accident. All of us have learned so much through all of this. I pray that God will bless your family this year!

In Christ,
Jennifer #83

Jammy said...

Thank you for sharing your homeschool journey with us. I am sure it can be overwhelming to know where you want to be and see how far the road is. We should do our best to focus on the today and not worry about tomorrow. I think that will be my verse this year! ;)

Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

(first year)

Maureen said...

And you think the REST OF US have it together? NOT! Somedays are better than others, but I've learned not to let self-doubt get a grip on my energies. And every day is a new day.

Maureen at Trinity Prep School

Melissa Markham said...

I enjoyed reading your post! I laughed about you being worried about not having it together. It sounds like you are doing a great job! And as to when the kids learn to read...when they are 20, who is going to care if it was at 4 or 14? One of the great blessings of homeschooling is our children can learn to read at their own pace! Have a blessed year!

Momma Roar said...

You are so right - none of us have it 'together' - I wish I would have put that in mine.

And I see you like Mystery of History - I've had my eye on that!

toni in the midst said...

Found your blog via CWO. I'm also a homeschool mom of 3 pupil children and one drooling baby. We'll begin after Labor Day. Stop by sometime.

Christine said...

What a great post! I have really struggled with the "plan" too. With our new baby I have had to give up some of my expectations and relax a little. We're just homeschooling one full time this year and my daughter is preschool age so will participate in a few subjects. Thanks for posting this encouraging "open house"!

Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I don't have it all together either. lol :o) Nice to know I'm not alone. Have a wonderful school year! :o)

kel said...

I enjoyed reading it. This is our second year and I told my hubby the best thing I have learned from my homeschool group is that I don't have it all together, everything doesn't have to fit this "ideal program".