When I plan my homeschool, I think of it as constructing a lovely building. You must first start with a firm, sturdy base, especially if you are building a lofty edifice! These are the basics of being a fine person: character, virtues and goodness. Training children in the way they should go is an on-going job, but if it goes lacking, not much else matters. We don’t want to create “educated devils”.
Ever feel like you are bumbling around amidst a three-ring circus in your attempts to homeschool? There is nothing like a new baby to restore a teacher/mother’s humility in the face of her own inadequacies! For our homeschool, this chaos repeats itself every few years with the advent of a precious new “student.” I have homeschooled in my robe nursing my baby while I have tried to teach math, correct papers and read stories:
“Mom, can’t you hold the book still? I can’t see the pictures.”
“Sorry, honey, the baby needs to be rocked.”
I wish I could say that we have arrived at the modern age and now we can breathe easier and relax a bit and turn over the instruction and entertainment of our children to some electronic device or nanny or government program or Sunday school class or something. But the fact is, it is still up to parents to raise the world’s next generation of human beings. And unless your husband is independently wealthy and available all day long, then it is mostly in mother’s hands. And how fine will the next generation be? How polite, articulate, kind, intelligent, sensitive and spiritual will they turn out?
When my kids were younger, going to the grocery store with them could be such a struggle! Each of them in turn was bedazzled by some treat or toy that they caught a glimpse of and the begging would begin: “Can we buy those cookies?” . . . “I want ice cream!” . . . “We don’t have any juice, Mom!” . . . “We need a big ball!”.
Eighteen years ago we moved from bustling southern California to rural Utah and tried to learn to work the land, to plant an orchard, to raise animals—to live a country life. It didn’t come easy! But, we were blessed to have old timers as neighbors and their farm wisdom was profound.
One adage that I heard repeated was, “A plant in need is quick to seed.” Whenever you see a plant that is immature and small, but blooming, you can be sure it isn’t getting what it needs to thrive. It senses that conditions are dire, and tries to bloom and set seed as quickly as possible, or its life will be in vain.
Transcript of an interview with Rick Hopkins (my husband)
Q. What was it that first got you to consider homeschooling your children?
A. My wife Diane was the first to feel impressed to begin homeschooling. She saw the problems our children were having in school; she investigated, and she didn’t like what she found in the public schools. Several of our children were having trouble with the school environment, their peers, the expectations, the school procedures, etc. At the time I was out of touch with our children’s emotional state. I felt open to change and the desires of my wife. I was involved in working as a design engineer and was very busy in my own life and, like most fathers, did not have contact with the children during the day. I became very supportive of our homeschool from the beginning.
Yackety-yack! We moms sure love to talk. I sometimes wonder what we sound like to our little children! I wonder, if after the first sentence directed at them, they might catch a word here and there but not grasp the whole meaning of what we are trying to communicate. They love us, and they listen attentively at times, but I don’t think they always “get it”!
It is a tricky for little children to understand the idea that the year rotates around, and starts again with a new numbered year. My “year chart” can help. Print it off and post it on your schoolroom wall, and go over it often with your 4-8 year olds. Asking them questions and talking about the months of the year will help them practice and gain understanding of the passage of time. Put the birthdays of each family member in your year, too, as that is a big event for young ones. And any recurring annual events.