here in our little town of mt. vernon, we have a public school for homeschoolers. that is, the public school system provides a school where homeschoolers can take classes from certified teachers, and get our state testing in, etc. it's called a family learning center, technically an alternative learning center i suppose. the kids can take classes there 2 days a week, on mondays and thursdays. so we do! they have wonderful, really fun classes. things like guitar, art, organic gardening, books club, nature rangers, history of china, castles & vikings, tae kwon do. a parent has to be present in the building while the kids are in class, so there is a family room where mamas and papas and the babies and toddlers hang out, with comfy couches & toys, a playground for when the weather is nice. the parents get to socialize & the little ones get to make friends.
on fridays, we attend a waldorf-inspired cooperative. amalie participates in a 3 hour class with other kids her age, and then afterwards alek & alia have 45 minutes of spanish instruction. so many sweet families that we really enjoy being around & getting to know.
so, with all of this outside of the home, i do feel a certain amount of pressure lifted off of my shoulders as far as what needs to be accomplished at home school-wise. i've pretty much abandoned the waldorf curriculum i purchased last spring, no particular reason other than that it was difficult to teach 3 kids in 3 different grades all that was required each week. it seemed to require a lot of juggling and planning. instead, we are doing some geography, latin, world history, vocabulary and such. not a lot of math is going on, but we're getting to it. science is covered at the learning center.
anyway, i have shared some of my struggles with homeschooling in past posts. i wanted to share some of the things i (we) have really come to love about it.
one thing that i definitely love is lunch time. i LOVE not having to pack 3 separate lunches, either the night before or the last minute before heading out the door. last week on a particularly gloomy & chilly day, i made a big batch of our favorite soup from one of my old faithful vegetarian cookbooks, the new farm vegetarian cookbook. we all sat around and enjoyed each other's company, & the nice warm soup that made the day seem cozy instead of dreary. how nice that my kiddos weren't sitting in a big noisy lunchroom eating cold food on that cold day. lunch in general is so much easier and healthier. not to mention more enjoyable!
another thing that i love - the questions that my children ask when they are learning something new. they ask the most amazing, intelligent questions. when they were in public school, i didn't get to see this side of their learning process very much. i don't know what kind of responses their questions got from their teachers. did their teachers really hear what they were asking? did they give the time & attention to answer in a thoughtful and/or meaningful way? then again, were my kids even asking these questions when they were in school? maybe not. when i was a kid in school, i was too shy to ask the questions that were on my mind. i was afraid that the teacher would dismiss my questions in some way, or that my classmates would think i was silly or stupid. i love the questions my kids ask, i love that those questions evolve into a thoughtful conversation, a true exchange of ideas and information.
most of all, i love being with my kids. i sometimes feel like in our society, the way we talk about parenting children is so focused on the negatives. it's about how much sleep we aren't getting, how many diapers we are changing, how exhausting certain behaviors are, how much we can't do with children around. and of course, there is some truth to that stuff, and sometimes grievances must be aired. but in my mind, all that negativity is so blown out of proportion. really? come on. i love it! i love all of it. i kinda think most parents do. right? it's really fun! we all know kids are pretty much more fun to hang out with than adults. and, it's completely temporary. our kids are with us for such a short time. in the big scheme of things, they aren't going to be with me for very long! so i love that i can make the most of the time that i do have with them.
every time i go out in public with all four of my kids, people say to me "you are amazing. i just don't know how you do it. i lose my mind with my one (or two), i can't imagine four!". if you have ever been around me when someone says this to me, you have heard my response, and it's always the same. "i love it!!" :)