One of the traps I often fall into when homeschooling is going back to being stiff and traditional. My husband, who’s been very supportive of our homeschool journey, would drop the this-is-why-we-homeschool statement whenever I feel pressured or discouraged when we missed days of homeschooling. And that’s saying a lot coming from someone who used to be a professional licensed teacher (a great one at that) in traditional schools.
As a first-time homeschooler, I’ve reviewed multiple curricula and signed up with every possible homeschool-related newsletter out there. We did Letter of the Week when he was around 3 years and 9 months old until he was 4 1/2. We tried to stick to a routine with our activities lasting for 30-45 minutes a day. We spend most of our time reading, playing, and singing. He’s 5 now and we’re about to start formal kindergarten with a homeschool provider. I can’t believe it! 🙂
In preparation for this school year, I got Sonlight recommended books, a Wikahon set for Filipino, Math-U-See and Saxon Math for Math, and Five in a Row for all subjects. Not to mention the multiple sites I refer to. At a glance this looks like a discombobulated range of resources but one thing I’ve learned in homeschooling is to leverage the flexibility it provides.
Take for example our Before Five in a Row Curriculum for ages 2-4 years old. I got the books first before I was able to buy a manual. There were weeks when we would exhaust a book extensively with lots of activities, covering different subjects. But there were days when we would just do one activity like the green bag we did below inspired from “The Big Green Pocketbook.” Instead of doing worksheets, we went around different stores in a mall to copy the stopovers in the book. 🙂
When we rowed “Katy No Pocket,” one of Timmy’s favorite books ever, we didn’t do any structured worksheets that week but instead read a lot of mommy-and-baby books and explored the relationships of baby animals with their moms. 🙂 We also spent a lot of time learning what generosity means as seen in the gesture of the construction man when he gave his apron full of pockets to Katy. Sharing was difficult to grasp for Timmy when he was younger and our Bible verse that week and this story helped him understand it better.
We did one activity that week and that was about making an apron full of pockets for Katy the kangaroo! There were days when I felt like giving him something to do for the sake of keeping him busy and it doesn’t usually go well when I do that. My lack of preparation often backfires on me with my son (being the ever observant child that he is) seeing the lack of purpose for the activity. So instead of forcing it I would opt for what is currently working for us, which was at that time a lot of reading and conversations during homeschool time. 🙂
Flexibility has allowed me to change my math curriculum since Math-U-See isn’t working for Timmy. Saxon Math has been okay so far although we are using the Grade 1 curriculum instead of kindergarten. It has allowed me to take long breaks and rest and let my son play a lot without feeling any guilt that kids his age are at school or summer school.
God has encouraged me through my husband and son that quality over quantity matters more than anything. The blessing of flexibility has allowed me to be content with 30 minutes to 1 hour of quality homeschool time with full cooperation from my son, giving me the results I wanted. And when I am tempted to extend and give more things to do because I fall back into the kids-in-regular-school-do-more thinking, God uses my son to tell me “Tomorrow na lang, mommy.” or “Let’s do it tomorrow instead, mommy.” When I listen to him we’re all good but when I don’t, I end up teaching a distracted and frustrated child.
Homeschooling has taught me a lot of things and being flexible is one of them. Not taking advantage of this rare opportunity defeats the purpose of educating my child at home at his own pace based on his own strengths. I know it sounds ironic but it takes a lot of discipline to be flexible. It’s something I need to learn and relearn as a homeschooling parent so I can bring out the best in my child. I cannot afford not to be flexible when he is already in the most conducive learning atmosphere—at home. 🙂