Friday, September 24, 2010

The Comeback of the One-Room schoolhouse


As another summer comes to an end and fall lingers just around the corner, all teachers both at home or in the traditional classroom are faced with the daunting task of going back to school. This year our homeschool like many others had reached a point of growth when I had more than one child needing my attention. And the question I asked myself, as so many others have asked, ‘How can I do this?’
            I spent months during the previous spring reading and researching on the topic, and I kept coming back to the same idea whether from talking to fellow homeschoolers, or reading articles and books on the subject—The One-Room Schoolhouse.
Really there is nothing cutting edge about this idea. It’s as old as American education—next to homeschooling that is. I just had to figure out a way to format my homeschool into the old fashioned one-roomed school house. Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the common method of schooling took place in a one-roomed schoolhouse. President Herbert Hoover, Alan B. Shepherd the first American in space and even Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales were all educated in a one-roomed school house. Obviously, they went on to achieve much. The practice must have its merits.
The main tenant of the one-room school house is to have all your children in one place and educate them all at once. That means you can schedule certain subjects like Bible, History, Science and even handwriting together. Then you schedule other subjects separately but in a way that keeps everyone busy. For instance, my oldest son does math on his own using a DVD system. While he’s busy with that, I teach my younger son phonics and reading. When I’m holding spelling lessons with one, the younger one is looking at a library book on his desk or using the chalkboard to phonetically spell words he’d read that week in his reading book.
For me, the main problem with teaching two children simultaneously is that my sons are six years apart. How do you teach a first grader at the same time as a seventh grader? The answer—careful planning. Luckily for me, middle school is my forte. I taught it for several years before deciding to stay home and homeschool my own kids. Six years later, here I am teaching my own son those same history lessons.
Many homeschooling families have come up against this dilemma—how do I homeschool multiple children?  In fact, most of the families I’ve interacted with have three, six, nine children at home. What many of them end up doing is combining subjects and grades as much as they can and just adjusting the work for each level. They have older ones working with the younger ones. This not only frees you up to work with other children, but it also ensures that your older child really does understand the information as well as instructs your younger child. It’s a win-win.
If you’ve found that you are running around the house from child to child and are exhausted at the end of the day, the kids hate school and are working far too many hours the answer might be to set up your own one-roomed school house. In the end I found my kids loved it, I loved it and God is blessing our school.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sick Days ~ Flexibility

Well, we started our new school year very well and had a phenomenal first week. My 7th grade son was actually sick with a sore throat when we started, but I knew we had to get going. He ended up handling it well. The problem was that as we started our second week that I'd caught his sickness. I probably should have taken it slow and rested. It's my school after all, I can have a sick day if I want to. But I couldn't do that. It's only the 2nd week. There is no time for sick days!

I toughed it out and by Thursday I felt miserable. I gave the boys Friday off from school and made an appointment to see the doctor. That's when I found out I had a touch of bronchitis. No wonder I felt so terrible. I've been on antibiotics for about 20 hours now and feeling improved. Today I did nothing but sleep and rest. Hope I can get some lesson planning done tomorrow. We have to have school on Monday, right??

The thing with homeschooling is that the world is your oyster. Whatever you want to do, you can within means. I'd decided at the beginning of the year that my mantra would be 'FLEXIBILITY.' You see, I came into this homeschooling thing from the viewpoint of a traditional school teacher. It's taken me time, but I now see our time educating as different from just school at home. It's a whole different kind of learning and teaching style. It's a philosophy of how you view schooling and learning. Sometimes my training of the past, rears it's ugly head and gets me into a whole lot of trouble. Flexibility is a grand idea, isn't it? I need to infuse our school with flexibility so that we have a fun time learning but that learning still takes place.

Next week, we will have school, but I won't be so worried about my schedule and if we get everything done that I planned. Learning at home is a way of life. As we live, breathe, read a book, add numbers, write our names, bake a cake and wash clothes--we are learning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How I Became a Homeschooler

When I was a little girl I said I wanted to be a teacher ‘just like mommy.’ As I grew older the desire to teach increased. In my teen years, I planned to get my PhD in history and teach college level and write fiction on the side.

To be honest, my reality came very close to that dream. I'm now a published author, I gained my degree in history and I started teaching middle school shortly after college. Several years later, I had a son in kindergarten, I was teaching 8th grade at a large Christian school and I was pregnant with son #2.

I faced a dilemma at the end of that year. Should I go back to work and put my baby in childcare or stay home? Well, to be honest, the decision was an easy one. My older son had struggled in kindergarten--not academically--but socially and emotionally. He needed a break and more one on one time. Besides, I really didn't want to send my baby off to be raised by someone else.

So I decided to try homeschooling for a year. My mom, who was also a teacher, had stayed home with my brothers and sisters for one year and did the homeschooling thing. I could do it too. 

That first year, I learned a lot about homeschooling and even teaching. At the end of the year, we decided to homeschool again for ONE MORE YEAR. We did that for four years. Finally in year five, I realized we were probably going to be doing this for awhile. In fact, my oldest son told me last year in sixth grade that he wanted to do this all the way through high school. So I went to a seminar for homeschooling in high school and read some books. We are in it for the long haul now.

Last fall, my baby boy started kindergarten and that meant teaching two kids. I just keep learning, changing and adjusting. It's been a great six years. Son #1 is halfway through to graduation. I can't wait.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Week

Believe it or not summer is over and it's time to get back into the swing of school. We actually started school last week and I have it say it was the best first day and first week we have had in six years as we start this seventh year of homeschooling.

Both my children were dreading school...well maybe thats too harsh a take on thier impression. Needless to say, they were not looking forward to the first day. I asked them both (at 12 and 6 years old) to try to have a more positive attitude as we moved into our school year. The 12 y/o said he would try and I knew the 6 y/o would follow his lead. Well, lo and behold we had a great day, the new schedule worked beautifully and three days later the 6 y/o told me he liked school. Wow! I was just blown away. This was the same kid that ran away and hid whenever I even mentioned school to him. Praise the Lord! We had a blessed week and I am looking forward to another great year learning at home.

By the way, the 7th grader told me by the middle of the week--"If this the way school is going to be all year, I can handle it." Now that's positive feedback.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Day on the Blog

Although this is not my first day homeschooling, this is my first homeschooling blog. I hope to record my experiences and keep track of where I am with this blog. This is my 7th year of homeschooling. (Prior to being a homeschooling mom, I taught middle school .) I have a 7th grader and a 1st grader. So this year I am not only teaching the oldest but the young one too. Like every year, I am trying new things, new curriculums, new schedules. Hopefully we'll hit a winner one day. :)