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Brace Yourselves, You’ve Chosen to Homeschool…Again

This upcoming school year marks our fourth attempt to homeschool. Over the years, I have shared not only the family discernment of homeschooling, but also a reflection after the first year, including going all-in on organizing a dedicated homeschool spot in our old home. Since the end of the second school year came with a brand spankin’ new bebe and a less than brand spankin’ new house, but still new to us, I completely missed the opportunity for reflection.

Rest assured, I won’t let this missed opportunity happen again, friends.

And, it’s not because I think my family is all that important when it comes to big decisions and family events.

In case you don’t like to click links, let me break down the previous years of homeschooling for you.

YEAR ONE REVIEW – 2010-11

  1. Too many subjects. One kiddo had nine subjects – why??
  2. Did the kids finish all of their work? Mostly…AKA yes in homeschool lingo.
  3. Did I try to run away from home throughout the year? Yes, but that’s ok and I’m told it’s quite normal behavior, especially after 4 p.m. AKA the witching hour.
  4. Did the kids break public school habits? Mostly. They still try to strangle their siblings’ throats, but I’m also told this is normal behavior, even within homeschooled families…the urge to strangle will lessen over time, they say.
  5. Is husband still on board with homeschooling? Dunno…since year one was breaking public school habits, most of the homeschool day resembled the after-school homework insanity making it difficult to discern this was the right move for our family. See above #3 again.
  6. Overall success? Do I want to go back into the lion’s den of homeschooling? Yes. Yes, it was hard, but worth the many sacrifices as we learned to be around each other more.
  7. Pat self on back. Hunker down for year two.

Advice for self: try not to have a baby at the beginning of the school year.

YEAR TWO REVIEW – 2011-12

  1. TOTAL. COMPLETE. CHAOS.
  2. Got pregnant at the beginning of the school year.
  3. Started a new multi-contributor blog. Maybe you’ve heard of it?;)
  4. Hid under nearest rock for most of the first and second trimester.
  5. Minimal formal schooling, lots of real world experiences involving cooking meals, cleaning, and bringing Mom popsicles.
  6. Unexpected putting home up for sale while buying another home.
  7. April: upheaval – LOTS of upheaval. Still very very pregnant.
  8. Moved in May, had baby in June.
  9. Resolve to do better in year three.

Advice for self: seriously did not follow advice from year one review.

New bebe will still be a newborn when year three starts.

YEAR THREE REVIEW – 2012-13

  1. New bebe and new house dictated school year.

    The all things homeschool closet.

  2. Organized closet space specifically for most homeschool materials. Committed to organizing even if I wasn’t good at it. Prayed Lord, help me be more organized.
  3. Went with core subjects, reading, math, and grammar to start and added as the year went on to get my feet under me.
  4. Realized that being extremely deficient in vitamin D contributed to my inability to tackle projects and get through the day.
  5. Start to see structure emerge throughout the year and cautiously test waters with multi-grade instruction.
  6. One kiddo finished school early, and late in the summer for another kiddo. I’ll take this as a success.
  7. The Kreitzer family is officially committed to homeschooling now. ::stifle screams of NOOOOOO::

 

 

So, what advice can I give you now that I have been schooling for three academic years, covering

high school,

middle school,

elementary,

and preschool?

Not much.

But I’m going to, anyway, in the spirit of hopefully appeasing your anxiety.

  • Your family is unique. Your choices will reflect that uniqueness. It’s hard not to look to others and, on some weird non-material Keeping Up With The Joneses thing, not to want to be like our friends. There is a difference between looking to others to inspire us to be better at what we do and looking to others with the idea that our own life is somehow less if we aren’t like The Joneses. God gave us the path that we lead for a reason – be confident that His plan for you and your family will look different than almost everyone else.
  • Pace yourself. No, seriously. I have heard countless tales of well-intentioned mommas and dads who start homeschooling the moment their children are old enough to learn. If you’re in this for the long haul, then going easy in the beginning can be a real life saver. Don’t overwhelm yourself with curriculums and over schedule your family. Start with the essentials and add activities gradually, if at all. If you’re lazy like me, you’ll wait until they’re in second grade to formally school – I kid, somewhat.;)
  • Make a list of goals. This can be anything from getting up before your kids – if you are so inclined, family Scripture time in the morning or evening, cooking projects, park days, science experiments, field trips, extracurriculars, etc. Even if you can’t fit all of them into your schedule, having a running list will help you focus on what you can incorporate at a later point during the school year – or even next year.
  • Thorough research not necessary. Some think you have to do solid research in order to start homeschooling, and for those folks that may well be true. I was one who took an entire year to discern. I also have friends who homeschool who have degrees in education who allowed me to pick their brains like a starved zombie in my quest for knowledge. Allowing ample time to discern was what I ultimately needed to make sure the best decision was being made, but that’s not always the case for everyone. I know that some decide to homeschool on a whim and it works out for them.
  • You don’t need to be smart to homeschool. I am a living example of this. I put homeschooling on the same plane as learning the Faith alongside my kiddos. I committed to learning the Faith more seriously as my oldest two were learning. I learned {and still do learn} something new each day. What you need most is the resolve to put that ego on the shelf and commit to learning. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about English by sitting with my son and going over lessons together.
  • Ignore the naysayers. This one is tough, especially if opinions come from people who you rely on for support. It’ll happen at some point or another. Someone is going to give you their unsolicited opinion on the matter. You and your spouse need to be united in this decision so that you can back each other up when the conversations come up that undermine your family decisions. Worst case scenario? Put on your I look like I’m listening eyes and go to your happy place.
  • Nurture yourself through community. Community is so very important and crucial to formation of our children. Groups, and especially homeschool ones that focus primarily on support are going to be very nurturing. I see this in action in online groups I own and participate in. I like and encourage members to put aside their idea of “right” vs. “wrong” when it comes to the grey issues of the Faith and focus on using the word friend when talking to each other. It’s harder to “right fight” when you are more invested in the friendship. Once you have friendship and respect in lockstep, you can weather conversations that might normally derail into the abyss of controversy.
  • Don’t suffer in silence. Sometimes life will take its toll and even the most seasoned homeschool momma will fall into spells of doubting her capability, maybe having children who are special needs and require more than you feel you can handle, or even falling into depression. Though we can find solace in knowing that suffering has purpose, it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time! There is nothing wrong with seeking out help when needed, or breaking through the fog of depression by talking with others. Silence can magnify the problem, sometimes making things feel worse than they are. If you find that you are struggling with something, pick a trusted friend, priest, or therapist and start the road to healing.

For some more great suggestions, I am going to send you over to Jen’s blog post on a few things she needs to remember this school year. Enjoy!

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About Martina Kreitzer

I am a 30-something stay-at-home mom to six kiddos, 4/96 through 6/12. We recently decided to homeschool after many years in public school. In my "spare time," I served as the chairperson for the Pastoral Council at my home parish from 2010-2013. I currently help with our Adult Faith Formation program, from the planning committee to facilitating and mentoring incoming facilitators. I also enjoy photography as a hobby. I enjoy talking about all things Catholic and always look to infuse a little bit of humor whenever possible.

August 8, 2013 - 7:23 am

Janine - Very timely, considering I’m in “curriculum hell” right now, trying to figure out what the HECK we’re going to learn this year!!! The good news is, we start (insanely) late, so I still have plenty of time to figure it out. :)

August 8, 2013 - 8:14 am

Jennifer @ Sweet Plantains - Great encouragement, at just the right time! I’m going into my second year of homeschooling my son (6)… I might be too relaxed, though – I still haven’t purchased his textbooks!

I was homeschooled from 2nd grade through 10th, and so I tend not to get stressed out about the whole process. It seems that everyone wants to do everything perfectly – that is, how schools or other families are doing it. The truth is that what is really important is that you’re teaching your children how to learn. Everyone has gaps in their education, no matter what schooling they go through, but if you arm your children with the ability and desire to conquer whatever subject they want/need to, you’ve been successful!

August 8, 2013 - 7:21 pm

St. Dominic: The Hound of the Hounds - BigPulpit.com - […] Santos, Catholic Mom The Hidden Life of Wisdom - Christopher O. Blum, Crisis Magazine Brace Yourself, You’re Homeschooling Again – Martina Krietzer, CSistas EEK! The Millennials Are Leaving the Church! - Anthony S. Layne, […]

August 9, 2013 - 7:32 am

Martina - @Jennifer – I hear you! I *just* ordered high school books yesterday…though, I admit I ordered the younger grades months ago. Not quite the same thing, LOL. The oldest is capable of pulling all her syllabi together and giving me her answer keys. :)

October 8, 2013 - 8:21 pm

Bethany @ Homeschool - Hi Martina – Great post. Epic. Making a list of goals is really key for my family. Thanks!
Bethany @ Homeschool recently posted..Best Kindergarten Homeschool CurriculumMy Profile

October 20, 2013 - 2:20 am

Michieli - I am a public high school teacher and having difficulty with the implementation of Common Core and the liberal takeover of education. Outside of teaching at a Catholic school I have thought about teaching home-schooled children. To get to the point, my question is…Have any of you ever heard of a teacher coming into a home-schooled setting to give individual/privatized education? It’s an idea that popped into my head.

October 20, 2013 - 8:28 pm

Debbie - Michieli,

We have a homeschool co-op in our area. You might want to look and see if there is one in your area that is looking for teachers. And yes some parents will bring in teachers for specific subjects or when they are in need of an extra adult due to other issues (having a baby).

October 21, 2013 - 8:33 am

Martina - Michieli,

Great question! I don’t know about a full-time opportunity, but with the flexibility of a homeschool day, it’s possible you could build up a “clientele” – for lack of a better word – of students who you could teach or tutor. I would suggest looking into local online homeschool groups and ask the admin of the group if you could ask the group to find students to teach. :)

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