Another school year has begun. The kids have all had their first day. This is my fifth fall as a mom, and it has seemed like a very long time since G was born to when she is officially kindergarten age. She will not be until next September. Most kids her age are attending a preschool of some sort a few days a week or even every day. I have been thinking about what it would be like for the family if she went away even twice a week for the morning. There would definitely be a gap in my life. I felt it when I dropped her off to VBS for a week in the summer. It would not feel quite right to have her gone several mornings a week, especially since the afternoons are nap and quiet times. She and her sister would hardly have time to play with each other. We have many other reasons for home schooling, but now that I have disciplined myself to have a schedule of home schooling everyday after morning Mass before I do anything else, I am seeing how great it is for G (4.5) and L (2.5) to spend some structured learning time with me, have a snack, and then have the rest of the morning to play together. It is great. I would not do it any other way.
M and I decided that we wanted to home school any children we might have before we were even engaged. In fact we had a pretty long list of kids names at that point as well. I suppose we are planners. I am learning that when I plan, when I schedule, when the order of life makes sense to me, that is when I am able to best manage the home and keep family life pleasant for all. This semester I am starting to get back into the ordering and planning of family life. I have always had a loose structure, but I am going to get things together in a more ordered way (especially now that the printer ink has been delivered and I can print out my lists and things to put in my “homemaking binder”!) The kids are responding really well to more structure as well. More structure means that they have more free play time as well, and structured time with me helps them feel more confident in play time.
I went to public schools through middle school in a small school district in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. My parents thought that this school district was particularly good, even better than the closest Catholic school. All of my siblings went there. I had some wonderful friends in elementary school, some great teachers, but I see that my eduction was lacking in a lot of ways. The foundations of memorization, grammar, and the classics were not there. When I went to my all-girls Catholic High School I had to learn how to diagram sentences to catch up. I still am awful when it comes to naming the part of speech (but I can write creatively…). M, on the other hand, went to Catholic schooling from pre-school through his Masters degree. Coming from both backgrounds, we feel that our kids can do better than we did (isn’t that the American dream?).
We want our kids to have a classical education, and I think that I can give it to them, even if it means relearning the parts of speech at least three more times. Maybe it will stick one of these times. I am learning to read through phonics for the first time. But this is not about filling in the gaps in my education, it is about giving my children the foundation they need to know truth (which leads them to God).
I am pretty sure we are going to pick and choose books for each subject and not set ourselves into one curriculum. That is what this last year of just preschool is for us. I am easing in and
stumbling looking around, and finding what works for us. For example, I really need books to come with instructions for me as well as my children. It always surprises me when the teacher’s manual tells me to say things and G actually responds to it more than whatever instructions I came up with. I suppose I will get more of an instinct for teaching as we go along, but for now I am a total novice. I am more full of conviction that I will home school my children than knowledge of how I am going to pull it off. It will probably happen one day at a time, and I know we will be better for it.