We are six weeks into our seventh year of homeschooling. Back when we started, we had three children: a five year old, a three year old, and a one year old. Today, with baby number seven on the way and children from ages two to eleven years, our homeschooling days and routines look dramatically different than they did when we first began. The other day, however, I realized something amazing and wonderful: It’s not getting any tougher!
Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling is not easy, per se. It requires commitment, effort, and discipline. When I say that it’s not getting tougher, I mean that although our family and homeschool have grown, and although the scope of their school work has expanded, I’ve found that each year’s new demands and challenges are balanced out by new benefits and blessings. Homeschooling has not become much more difficult, and I’ve never been tempted to view it as an impossible task. Want to see why? Here is our experience thus far:
Homeschooling a 4-6 year old with a few younger ones in the home
- Homeschooling is a new and unfamiliar territory
- The school child is too young to do assignments alone; Mom is needed for one-on-one teaching for every subject
- Mom has little assistance and a lot of work in addition to homeschooling: housekeeping, meals, caring for babies, keeping toddlers from hurting themselves, etc.
- Mom could be pregnant (We’ve had a baby every 1 1/2 – 2 years, all the way up through the present!)
- School does not require much time at this stage
- Younger siblings are still young enough to take naps – an adequate amount of time to complete most schoolwork
- Most lessons are relatively easy, gentle and fun
- Much of school time is also quality, relationship-building time
- The 4-6 year old can and should begin learning to do a few household chores (folding and putting away own laundry, etc)
Adding in a second child
- Learning to juggle multiple levels
- The older child’s schoolwork now requires longer than a naptime
- There are still babies or toddlers to care for
- Mom could be pregnant – along with accompanying morning sickness and/or fatigue
- Mom has taught Kindergarten before and knows what to expect
- Mom has a year or two under her belt and has developed confidence in her ability to do this
- Mom sees some fruits of her labor in the older child, and is motivated to stick with it
- While some school subjects still require Mom’s one-on-one attention, the older child can do other schoolwork independently; Mom’s actual tutoring time doesn’t change
- The older child is taking on a few more chores, helping Mom even further
- The second child is learning to do some helpful chores, which gives Mom two good helpers!
Adding in a third child
- Taking time management to a whole new level
- Older children begin to develop their gifts; This is actually a blessing, but it does require more time, attention, and finances (perhaps music lessons, sports, art or drama classes, etc.)
- Older children’s schoolwork becomes greater in scope, and more advanced
- There may still be babies and toddlers to care for
- Mom could be pregnant – and not 29 anymore ;-)
- Enter the concept of multi-level teaching: My Father’s World (our choice), Konos, Tapestry of Grace, etc.
- Enter the concept of rotating children among different “school stations;” Example: at 10:00, one child babysits (in eye & earshot of Mom), one child does “Mom School,” one does “Computer School” and one does “Independent School.” At 10:30, everyone switches to the next school station.
- Older children have become independent learners and are mature enough to do most work on their own. They only require Mom’s one-on-one tutoring for their most difficult subjects (Composition or Math, perhaps). Other subjects require regular assessment, but not a great deal of explaining and teaching.
- Seeing more growth and fruit in older children
- Most people have stopped asking the “socialization” question, because they can see the fruit too. (Either that, or they just think that you’re stubborn and there’s no use in bringing it up ~grin~)
- Confidence and strength in the conviction that the family is doing as the Lord has called
Adding in a fourth child
- Much the same as the “third child” list, only with more children!
- Mom is an old pro at homeschooling
- Mom is an old pro at multi-level teaching
- Older children require even less one-on-one instruction
- Mom has learned a wealth of household management skills and routines that keep the home running smoothly with little stress
- Mom now has four great helpers who have been trained to know where they should be and what they should be doing during the critical school and chore hours of the day
This is as far as we’ve come so far. My oldest child is in 6th grade, so we’ve yet to experience junior high/high school. I am sure that there will be new challenges and demands as we move into those stages, but they don’t frighten me. I am excited to see how the Lord is going to work in our lives and equip us to meet the task. He has called me to homeschool, and has never forsaken me. I have not viewed any of the demands as “burdens.” Yes, it is work, and yes, it is a challenge. But is it enjoyable? Is it a blessing? Is it worth it? Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes! I have complete trust that in the years we’ve yet to experience, He will provide for every challenge that we face, and we will always want to give Him thanks for the years to come.