Answering Your Homeschooling Questions, Part 2

I guess I don’t need much of a preface, as this is part 2. For a preface, see my last post. 🙂

How do you stand being around your children all the time?

This question is usually followed by “I could never do it!” While my children are human and sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, I find it a little sad that some moms can’t wait for school to start, so they don’t have to see their children as much.

I think more than anything, that feeling must be just a yearning to get back into a regular routine, after a more unscheduled summer. That makes sense to me, but since we never started sending them to school every day, I don’t have that experience to compare to our life.

Do I get tired of my kids’ constant presence sometimes? Honestly, sometimes I do. Sometimes I think I will never again be able to sit on the couch without being climbed on. But what I’ve found, is that when they annoy me the most, I need to think about what it is that they are doing, and see if it’s a training issue. (Usually it is.)

All our days aren’t perfect, but most of our days are delightful. It’s such a gift to be their mama. I’m grateful to be able to spend my days with them, and experience their education with them.

What age do you start formal lessons?

Charlotte Mason said “No formal lessons until after the age of 6.” I haven’t always followed this advice, but I’m seeing the wisdom in it, more and more as we go. Our oldest is a girl, and she showed signs of readiness at a younger age; so we dove in headfirst. If I could do it over, I would have taken a much more laid-back route.

Her brother is now 5, and also itching to start school, but with him, I’ve chosen to go much more slowly, easing him into the habit of doing school, but with very little pressure. We go at his own pace. I’m following his interests a good deal, focusing mostly on the subjects he is most interested in. He often sits in on his sister’s Bible, history, science and literature readings, and frequently offers narrations, so he’s getting more schooling than he realizes, but in a gentle, natural way. We plan to start him in first grade when he is six or nearly six.*

*The very day after I wrote down those intentions, he informed me that he has learned nothing in Kindergarten that he didn’t already know, and wants to do first grade now. I pulled out the first grade math and he whizzed through the first 5 lessons in a 30 minutes or so.

These things show me it’s very much a learn-as-you-go process. Once you think you know what’s up, you find out you have no idea what’s up. By considering their strengths and weaknesses, you can easily tailor the education to fit the child. Sometimes alterations are needed, but you’ll be able to see when it fits.

How do you handle the stigma? Do you find people are offended by your decision to home educate?

I try to understand where the opinions and offense are coming from, and usually I can understand what’s behind it, which helps me not to take offense myself. For example, we feel bad that people think we are unsupportive of the church schools, but we can see how they would deduct that conclusion from the surface.

Others have expressed concern that our children won’t know how to deal with outside authority, because they only know their parents as authority figures. I see this as a valid concern, and we try to instill in our children a respect for adults. With a little attention, I don’t see why this can’t be done by having conversations with them, and teaching them to respect their Sunday School teacher, music teacher, German teacher, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

German lessons with our beloved Mrs. Isabel

I think a lot of the stigma around homeschooling comes from people on both “sides” misunderstanding the motives of the other. I want to clear up as many of those misconceptions as I can, and I think simply making an effort to understand one another will fix most of the problems. 🙂

We are very blessed that our family on both sides is supportive of what we’re doing. Some of them probably aren’t big fans, but they seem interested in the process and not “offended” by our decision. And at church and the surrounding community, I’d say for every negative comment we’ve gotten, we’ve had two or three positive ones. We deeply appreciate that.

How to get housework and cooking done while homeschooling? Do you go by schedules, or try to do both at the same time? How do you do it all?

I cringe to answer this one. I’m not what anyone would call a good housekeeper. I would rather work in an environment of order and beauty; but children bring with them a level of mess and disarray.

I know that disorder isn’t conducive to a good learning environment, so I try this system and that system. I seem to be good at putting new systems in place, only to give up on them after a few days. I put things away , but these little people I live with, they keep on digging it all out again. I’ve tried training, nagging, rewarding… you name it. I’ve finally decided that until they’re a little bigger, I’m going to live in a mess of toys, books, crayons and tiny scraps of paper.

Now instead of waging futile war on the clutter, and never actually getting to the schooling part, I try to focus on preparing the homeschool space (our dining room) before we start school. I get out a snack, make some tea, and set out the books needed for that particular day. I then invite the kids to come, and we “do school” around a pretty table, sometimes in the midst of a very messy house. Then, when school is done I attack the house and get done what I can before supper time.

Someday, my children will be able to work independently and I will be able to cook and clean while they take initiative for their own school work. But here in the little years, if I walk away, school is over. So for now, I do school, and then cook and clean. Occasionally I do it in the opposite order.

Here’s the part that may horrify you. I don’t do it all. There are times when I’m simply bombarded with things to do. Right now, there are easily 5 hours worth of outside chores that I’m responsible to do every day. The chores are non-negotiable, and in these times I have to choose which is the most important after chores.

Do I choose cleaning and laundry? Do I choose school? They’re non-negotiable too! I haven’t figured out a foolproof way to get it all done, or even decide which is most important. So I just kinda flap around like a chicken and do as much as I can of each thing. But at the (literal) end of the day, all I can do is all I can do! Sometimes, I go to bed and leave the dinner dishes unwashed. This is a bad idea. Zero stars; do not recommend.

Sometimes we eat sandwiches for supper. Sometimes there’s too much time between one sweeping of the floor, and the next. But they seem content, look well fed, and *usually* have clothes to wear. Earlier this week, my son said “Mama, I charge thee, I have no clean pants to wear.” That was my cue that I’d better put down The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, and start a load of jeans. 🙂

I don’t know if I adequately answered this last question. I feel like the answer would be very different if you asked someone else. But there is my answer, and that’s the only one I have in hand. If you have more questions, drop them below, and if I can, I’ll answer them in the comments.

If you are in the same phase of life as me, or even if you’re not, I will leave with you a favorite quote of Elisabeth Elliot. “Do the next thing.” Its pretty simple advice. When you don’t know which end is up, or which direction to go, just keep doing the next thing.

Be blessed, and carry on❤️

3 thoughts on “Answering Your Homeschooling Questions, Part 2

    1. 😂 it was Cory’s idea:) we have German friends and he was like why not? I am learning some by default but I don’t guess learning German was ever an interest of mine 🙈😅


  1. Jeanette,you are an amazing teacher and mother! I am glad you’re still in this season of life so I can encourage you to keep on spending time with them! How I wish I could undo some of my poor mothering,but since I can’t ,I can use my mistakes to cheer others on. Blessings to you and Cory with everything you have to keep up with!

    Liked by 1 person

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