Hi! My name is Jennifer and I’ve been homeschooling forever. 🙂 It seems that way at least. This is my first year with AGAPE and I’m loving getting to know the people as well as giving and receiving support. My role with AGAPE this year is to plan a field trip for the group each month as well as keep you informed about other opportunities your family may be interested in. Recently, I’ve been given a new job as well- to get this website up and running, and then see that it is maintained. I hope that it will be a blessing to you!
My husband, John, and I knew before we even had kids that homeschooling was for us. We felt that our children were our responsibility. We didn’t want to pass off more than half of their lives into someone else’s hands. We also had a heart for missions work, and we wanted to be able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. We thought homeschooling would be conducive to that. So when it came time for our daughter, Taylor, to start kindergarten; there wasn’t even a choice to be made. We knew our path. Or at least we thought we did. Homeschooling wasn’t anything like I imagined.
For as long as I could remember I wanted to be a teacher. That was way before I had ever even heard the word homeschooling. So when my sweet little girl turned 5 years old, I brought out the big guns. Taking very little regard for her readiness, I plowed ahead determined to be successful. It was a mess. We went through 3 different math programs trying to find one that wouldn’t have us both in tears every day. Can you imagine? In kindergarten! You don’t even need curriculum for Kindergarten and I spent a thousand dollars in that one year. Oh my.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I did not learn my lesson that first year. I just couldn’t let go of my expectations. We kept searching and searching for the perfect curriculum that would solve all of our woes when what she really needed was just a bit more time to mature as well as a lot more love and patience from me. We proceeded through our first 5 years of school this way. Our relationship was suffering. I felt like a failure. She felt stupid. We did have good times during those years. These were times when we did projects, took field trips, did co-ops, made things together, and volunteered. These are the only things that kept me sane. I blogged about these fun times, and all my friends would wonder how I managed to get to all these fun projects. What they didn’t know was that these ‘fun projects’ were the only thing that kept me sane. I HAD to do them. If we didn’t have breaks from the tension that was building in our home, I think I might have exploded.
After Taylor’s 4th grade year, I felt like I could take it no longer. I just knew that I was failing her. I was going to mess her up for life. We made the extremely hard decision to put her in public school. I literally cried for 3 weeks. My eyes kept leaking tears. I. Was. Miserable. I can’t stress enough how horribly I felt about myself. I was ashamed to tell my family and friends what we had done.
After the school tested Taylor, they thought she should be in the 5th grade. That should have been a clue in to me that she wasn’t doing as horribly as I imagined. I insisted that she repeat 4th grade because of her difficulties in math. They put in the class of their very best math teacher. 2 weeks later, she still had not had a conversation with her teacher. By the end of the year, her scores were worse than they had been the year before with me. She barely passed. I don’t blame the teacher. They do the absolute best they can. But you just can’t give that many kids the one on one attention they need. It left me feeling better about myself though.
Isaac had his kindergarten year the same year that Taylor attended public school. Lucky for him, I had finally learned to relax a bit. We talked. We read. We played. We learned. And it was fun doing it! I was ready spiritually and emotionally to try again with my sweet girl.
That brings us up to the current 2011-2012 school year. Taylor is in 5th grade and Isaac is in 1st. I have to say that this has been by far the best year that we have had in all our years of homeschooling. Do you want to know what the difference has been? I’ve changed. I’ve changed my goals. I’ve changed my expectations. I’m learning to respect the people that God fashioned my kids to be and not try to change them into my mold of who I think they should be. I’m letting go of my ‘have to be perfect’ thought patterns. It’s not easy. I have to remind myself constantly. We still cover all the needed subjects, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed. You know what I just realized? We have not shed any tears over school this year. Not a single one! Cheers all around!
We are very eclectic homeschoolers. I still love curriculum. I love to research it. I love to look through it. I love to plan it. I’m still working on teaching the child and not just teaching the book. Ha! We use lots of projects and real books in our homeschool. For basic curriculum subjects we use:
For subjects together we use
- Exploring Creation with Zoology 2
- Story of the World Volume 1
- Lots of different Bible resources. Currently it’s Wisdom and the Millers and Kids of Integrity.
- Lots of read alouds
I ask God for wisdom in the best way to teach and disciple my kids. I pray for God to teach me how to love my family better. I pray that our bond as a family grow stronger and stronger. And I thank God that He is answering my prayers by changing ME a little more every day.