19 Jul Confessions of a Laid-Back Homeschooler
I’m a very laid-back homeschooler. I’m not even sure if that’s a good thing or not. Haha! But so far it’s been working really well for me and Timmy. 🙂 It may look like that I have it together with all my posts about letter of the week (LOTW) activities but the truth is, most of them just happened on the fly! I just love documenting everything and putting them on collage because I plan to put them in a scrapbook. 🙂 But it’s NO WAY an indication that we had a well-planned week. Seriously! And let me tell you a little secret, those activities only take a few minutes (15-30 minutes tops)! 🙂
Sometimes I just stare at our pantry cabinet looking for something we can do a few minutes before Timmy wakes up. I know I’m cutting it close but some of my best ideas have come during buzzer beaters! 🙂 I always have my colored pens and colored papers within reach for quick activities. I do a quick Google and Pinterest search. I plan in my head what we’ll do for the day and leave room for something random.
The thing is I’m not much of a planner, really. And I’m also forgetful. That’s a pretty bad combination right there. Haha! That’s why I’m so grateful to be married to a man who likes to put everything in order. Omar keeps me organized. 🙂 There were days when I forgot to calendar our activities and it has caused us a lot of stress (e.g. surprise commitments, unplanned meet-ups, etc.). Sorry, hon! Thankfully, he’s very forgiving, too. 🙂
So how does a laid back, disorganized, forgetful mom homeschool?
I seek daily wisdom from the Best Teacher. Spending some time alone with God helps me relax and focus on what I need to do for the day. Apart from Him, I can’t do anything. Praying and reading His Word helps me start my day right. 🙂 It’s my time to declutter my thoughts. Recognizing my daily need for His guidance and wisdom has helped me a lot regardless of how my day goes. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that a lot of my homeschool eureka moments have come during this time. 🙂
I take my teaching cues from my son. When Timmy shows interest on something—a book or topic—I latch on it quickly and take advantage of it. Is there a language or math principle we can learn from it? I also test his capabilities every now and then. When he showed interest in counting beyond tens I casually asked him to go on counting up to hundreds last year (he was 3). He enthusiastically worked on it! When we bought a book about skip counting he got so into it that now we’re skip counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. Even and odd numbers are his new favorites. 🙂 I go full blast when I see that he’s ready but I also retract quickly when he shows signs of difficulty and resistance.
This is especially true with writing. He’s not a big tracing fan so I kept all his tracing worksheets and focused on how he wants to write—which is by copying my strokes. 🙂 I let him watch me write all the time. Those who have seen Timmy write were surprised at how legible, fast, and smooth he does it. I guess it comes from the fact that he watches an adult do it and when I do it I make it look easy, right? I also let him write in a fun way by using Q tips, colored pens, finger paints so that he will look forward to doing it over and over again!
Now I understand from a child’s standpoint how much of a chore tracing can be because you’re left to do it on your own following boring dotted lines. Whereas when you write using engaging materials, see an adult “demo” it, and do it together often, your child will see how easy it is! Well, at least for my son. There are kids who thrive in tracing and if that’s your child just go with it! 🙂
That’s exactly what I love about homeschooling. You’re not tied to a curriculum that forces your child to learn all subjects at once. You can focus on his strengths and interests then change your approach in areas where your child is struggling. You’re not limited to using one medium. You become more in tune with your child’s learning style and adapt to it accordingly. 🙂
I follow a flexible schedule and flexible curriculum. I have an outline of some sort which serves as my guide for our routine during the day. We start our homeschooling around 9:00-9:30am (yup, we don’t struggle with waking up early). We finish at around 11:00am. It’s not all sit-down learning. Reading time (our favorite) is part of it, playing and lots of tickles in between (another favorite), arts and crafts (especially painting), and writing activities.
In the afternoon, after his nap time we read again and we either do art or another homeschool activity after. Nothing is broken down into minutes like 10:00-10:30 is this subject, etc. Timmy knows his schedule (i.e. the outline of his day) and the predictability helps him cooperate and adjust. 🙂 But no, he’s not confined to a rigid minute-to-minute period.
We do the LOTW activities for structure purposes. But I’m very flexible with it. There are days when the bulk of our activity happens in one day. Then the next two days we won’t do any LOTW stuff. We would do other learning through play activities instead. We would go back to it over the weekend or something. We’re also doing Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) on the side. Again, for structure purposes just so I have a guide. 🙂
Here’s the thing, preschool homeschool should really be unstructured. The attention span of 3 to 4-year-olds is way too short for sit-down learning. Aside from our flexible schedule and curriculum, I also consult different reliable sites for developmental milestones and signs of delay and use it as guide for age-appropriate activities.
Sure my son knows a lot for his age and I could have well enrolled him in a homeschool provider for Kindergarten or even Grade 1. But he’s only 4 and won’t turn 5 till December. He will be 5 1/2 years old when he gets into Kinder next school year and we’re totally fine about it. Besides, he’s still within the age-5 bracket. 🙂 By that time, he will be more cooperative and attentive.
The choice between enrolling him at 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 was crucial for me and my husband. Childhood is too fleeting to be hurried. Knowledge is one thing, maturity is another. We went for the latter because based on how we know our child we assessed that he will be more ready by then not based on head knowledge but based on everything else. Less frustrations for me, too! 🙂
I make up for what we missed. I confess that we have gone through an entire week without any homeschool activity. There were days when our letter of the week became letter of the day, meaning we only had the chance to tackle the letter in one day. So what did I do? I made up for it the following week. It’s not like he stopped learning for one week. We still did the basics—play (yup, it’s a requirement), read, sing, and write/draw. We just didn’t covered a lot for a certain letter. 🙂 Sometimes those breaks help, too. It gives Timmy more options to learn other things before he goes back to his routine.
Being a laid-back homeschooler doesn’t mean being irresponsible. It just means that you’re not too uptight with teaching your child like clockwork. It means that you allow for breathing room and reasonable breaks to change things up to encourage creativity and self-discovery in your child. 🙂
The fun part right now is that my son doesn’t have any concept of “catching up on lessons” yet so he doesn’t feel any pressure. He just knows that we’re always learning something new. 🙂 But in my head, “This was supposed to be for last week, sweetheart.” Haha!
I know that as Timmy grows up and his lessons become more complicated I will need to step up my game, prepare my lessons way ahead of time, and be more organized. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun anymore. It could be that we will find new ways to be engaged in our subjects and find dynamic tools and resources to make learning consistently enjoyable for both of us! 🙂
Will I outgrow being a laid-back homeschooler? Probably not. That’s who I am and so far it matches the spontaneity and flexibility that homeschooling provides for us. 🙂 Imagine you can discuss history for an entire week and put math on hold because your child is so engrossed with your Vikings lesson! There are so many things you can do without being confined to a rigid schedule! Being laid back not only means being relaxed but also being willing to embrace unique, non-traditional learning opportunities along the way. 🙂
What matters to us is that our son learns in a way that is most beneficial for him. There will be days when worksheets will take a back seat when we see the need to deal with character issues first. There will be weeks when we’ll struggle with certain concepts. But when your child knows that he can count on his mommy-teacher and daddy-teacher to find ways to help him through a steep learning curve, he’ll be more motivated to learn. 🙂
So yes, I’m a laid-back homeschooler teaching my son under the constant guidance of my Heavenly Father and the full support of my husband. Although it’s far from ideal, it’s what works for us. After all, when you think of home shouldn’t it be welcoming and relaxing? I believe the same rules apply for homeschooling as well. 🙂