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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where To Start

My Dear Friends,

This post has been a long time in coming. Yet another friend has asked the question, "Where do I start?" This question will not go unanswered any longer.

First, you must know that home schooling is difficult. Mom has to be on the ball all of the time. Just that sentence is heavy because we are also responsible for their spiritual development, their grasp of table manners, and keeping them in clean clothes. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t see the benefits. I said, I wouldn't do it if I didn't see the benefits. You can do it if your husband isn't on board, but I would not recommend it. You will discover that you must defend your decision to your dad, your grandmother, your neighbor, the lady on the park bench, your pharmacist, the stranger at the gym, the librarian, the post man, and practically everyone to whom your child says, "I'm home schooled." Or to anyone who wonders why your children are at Walmart in the middle of a school day. Or to, well, everyone. Get ready for that. Be ready to have thick skin when someone says, "WHAT?? You're crazy!" or "Honestly, how could you do that to your daughter?" or "I'd kill my kids if they were around all the time." I promise, you will need your husband on your side. Additionally, I've yet to see an effective home school where Dad was absent--not that it can't be done, I've just never seen it. You'll also need him to be understanding of having maps and penmanship posters on your living room wall, Spanish language tapes playing in the car, and science experiments growing in the kitchen window.

So, where do you start? In my opinion, go straight to the classics. Do not waste your time on self-help books; this includes the plethora of "why public school sucks" books. There are some that come highly recommended, but wait on those until you have a sound background in the classics. You may be surprised how lame those books become when compared to A Tale of Two Cities, Little Women, and Swiss Family Robinson. Anyone who is reading a classic with the awareness of her responsibility of teacher/mom will find what they need within those time-honored pages. Plus, they are more fun. There is a captivating story to lead you through the "How do I teach responsibility to my seven year old?" instead of a generalized list that someone wrote about how all seven year olds operate. Please. Like any child–even those in the same family–learns the same way, at the same rate.

The two most important educational/parenting resources, in my experience, are the scriptures (including the Ensign) and the Holy Ghost. I have read a few self-help books. One of them was an assignment. The sassy way I took notes was to write a scriptural passage in the margin to illustrate how the prophets taught the same principle in a better and Christ-centered way.

Back to the classics for a minute. It isn’t enough to just read the books, we must also write about them, muse over them, discuss what you are learning with your spouse and your children. I have done the discussion part from the beginning (mostly because I can’t shut-up about anything) and it is paying off in a big way. Now, my children will be reading from a book and will race into the kitchen to tell me, "MOM!! Do you know what just happened??!!" and then will go on the explain the reason for their strong emotion. This is the Newborn Smile of home schooling. Thrilling.

I'm only going to refer you to one resource with which to begin. It is called A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. It is a complete paradigm shift in what you think about educating children. Buy it, get it from the library, borrow it from me, whatever. You must read this book. There are hundreds of home schooling philosophies. This is the one that speaks to my husband and me. Wherever you decide to school your children, you need to read this book.

This is, like anything that is hard, a rewarding job. Think about how much you will learn, not just the kids. When I try to explain how I’ve changed since I started TJEd, I just say I feel bigger–fleshed out. I have so so so much to learn, but it is a great ride.

Good luck. Feel free to ask me questions. I'm always thrilled to talk about home school.

The MotherShip


April January 17, 2010 at 10:18 PM  

thanks emily for posting this...we started to read charlotte's web...the girls are still a little too young I think to grasp what I was reading and the lack of pictures were frustrating Julia. However Chay forgot to return it to the library and it sat in the car for 2 months under the seat and so we now own the book...the library was kind enough to give it to us for the $22 late fee! LOL. Oh well...what can you do?

I am a big non fiction reader and yet have a hard time with novels- so maybe I should start on the classics myself. Although my other Emily bought me 1984. That was interesting. Of course.

Kenzie still has another year before she is a "kindergartener" oh Kindergarten is full day. No thank you. 5 is way too young to be outside the home all day. My friends think I am weird. But thank goodness I have the right to choose. Kenzie is learning quick on some things not so quick on others. She has a ton of unstructured play due to my sickness and it has been rewarding to see her entertain herself with her wild imagination and with Ju Ju of course. To me that is so healthy for a 4 year old.

I'm not a very even steven type of person. My moods fluctuate- my health varies- and so I question my ability to be a good teacher in the home. I feel very trapped in the options I have for my children's education. There is a good charter school in town but it is a lottery to get in and it is also a 15 minute drive...public school- NO. 45% mexicans with English as a second language- I don't think so. hmmmmm.

I don't know if I can get my act together. I just really believe the first 8 years are so vital. I want to be the one to teach my kids choice and responsibility- I want to teach them how to love books and learning not just how to pass tests- hmmmm....I am really confused as to what to do. I will continue to pray- but the thought of having Kenzie go to school all day makes my heart pound. She is far too young. She needs to be by my side a little longer-

LOL...I think you have become my virtual online therapist at the moment. I am just spilling my thoughts- probably because you are the only one who even begins to understand me- to everyone else I sound crazy....anyway. I am going to bed now.

Keep posting Emily.

Do you have any object lesson ideas to teach/introduce the Fall? (The Fall- Fall of Adam) off subject- just wondering.

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