We’re kicking off a new series here at Vintage Kids for those of you just wondering about homeschooling! Maybe you’re wondering if it’s right for you? There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to homeschool, and we want to give you some information to make that decision a little easier! We have an amazing team of guest bloggers that will be popping in now and then to give you their unique perspectives and to answer some of your most curious and pressing questions about that weird sub-culture that homeschools their children…
…and today, I am SO excited to be sharing our space with Daja from The Provision Room. She blogs there regularly, along with Kristina (who will also be joining us here in a few weeks!). Quite frankly, I have no idea how I stumbled across their blog, but I ADORE it and encourage you to check out there no-nonsense, encouraging and informative posts!! Homeschooling is not a topic they cover at their blog, but I am so glad that they have let us into their school-world to get another fresh perspective! Thanks Daja – and someday, we WILL meet for coffee!
Being a homeschooling mother of seven (eight this July), I get a lot of questions. A lot of “How do you do it?” type questions. Two big concerns are how to tackle multiple ages, especially if some children are not yet school aged, and how to keep up with the other household responsibilities such as housekeeping. Today, I want to look at the first question…
Much of my perspective comes from being a second generation homeschooler. My parents homeschooled my siblings and me back when it was almost unheard of! They went through all the phases, from super structured to basically unschoolers and everything in between. While I certainly don’t have all the answers, over time we’ve found some solutions and rhythms that work for our family and will, perhaps, work for you as well.
I want to homeschool but, I have little ones!
At the time I’m writing this, I have a sixth grader, a fifth grader, a third grader, a second grader, a kindergartener, a four year old, a sixteen month old and will soon have a newborn.
An important place to start in figuring out how to undertake this, is to break off old educational paradigms. We’ve been conditioned to think that learning happens best in age-segregated, homogeneous groups. Our school systems are all set up that way. But when you think about it, it’s unnatural.
You don’t see groups like that occurring in nature, nor in organic cultural or societal structures. For example, if your child takes a job in an office someday he will likely have to deal with colleagues that are much older than him and that are much younger than him. There will be colleagues that have a lot of work experience and some who are novices. The same natural mix of age and experience can be seen in churches, neighborhoods, and organizations. So, how does educating a child for 13+ years in a conventional school setting prepare him for “real life”? It doesn’t.
Another educational paradigm we have to break off is the idea that “school” happens between certain hours and in a certain way. Again, it’s an unnatural approach to a very natural thing–that is learning! We were designed to learn and a child whose curiosity is encouraged, who lives in a loving and supportive environment will learn! The child simply cannot help but learn! Homeschooling children of multiple ages and grade levels necessitates that learning happen outside the 8am – 2pm school schedule.
Remember that with homeschooling we are not simply recreating public school at home. It’s a different way of life to embrace.
We have taken a “bus-stop” approach to many subjects in our home. This means that everyone is learning the same thing, but that some of the kids ride longer than others. The little ones get off at different stops.
For example, last year, we did food and nutrition for science and social studies. We used the same basic curriculum for all the children. After I read the basic lesson aloud to all, the younger children did some coloring pages and activity sheets. The older children would watch a documentary, write essays, and do cooking projects. They’d also read supplemental materials that went more in-depth.
Field trips were done together–with appropriate study materials. The younger ones might do something like “bingo” where they have to pay attention and find certain objects. The older students would have to write a review, connecting it to the basic curriculum we’d been studying.
This “bus-stop” approach allows our family to have great conversations around the dinner table and everyone feels like they have something to contribute. No one is left in the dark. The younger children are encouraged to reach up to understand (and this mental stretching is so healthy!) and the older are encouraged to work patiently with the younger ones and gently lead them (also a valuable life skill!).
For the little children that are not yet “doing school” they are encouraged to play on their own while the older ones study. Learning to occupy oneself with blocks, dolls, books, etc. is a really important skill. Our society teaches us to be constantly entertained. But, providing one’s own amusement is really crucial to overall happiness in life. We try (notice, I said, TRY. We aren’t always successful.) to avoid using the television as a distraction. Sometimes, I cave.
There are times when Mom and Dad need to tend to the needs of the little ones, so the older ones might have to wait to accomplish a project that requires our assistance. It’s not unheard of to be reading a history lesson together after dinner or working on an art project during nap time in the afternoon.
Flexibility is really a gift.
Daja Gombojav, is Gana’s wife, mom to eight spirited children, and a daughter of God. She loves cooking, hymns and liturgy, reading, writing, and cheese. Not necessarily in that order. She’s a fourth generation ordained pastor and missionary to Mongolia who now spends all her time with her Domestic Church (a congregation of 9) and loves every minute of it. She’s part hippy born a little too late, part ragamuffin hanging onto grace, and part saint in the making. She co-founded The Provision Room with her good friend Kristina, in order to get prepared for “Life’s Happenings.” She lives in Los Angeles, but dreams of a life in the country.