I love that homeschooling exposes my kids to more of the world than they might experience if they were in a classroom all day with peers of the same age. Case in point this week, it was interesting to watch the delight of the older girls as the twins worked on their letter of the week printables and various preschool games that we use to “do school” with them. Without even being encouraged, they both ran to get out the art supplies and design their own worksheets for the twins. I was impressed with the attention to detail and consideration for what activities would “keep the twins’ interest” as Jaelah said. Just the fact that they have the freedom to work on an art project that hits them in the moment is so crucial to developing a love of learning. Of course there are appropriate times for sitting down to do specific school projects, but it thrills me to see them love the love of learning for the sake of their little brother and sister and take ownership of them learning the alphabet. Homeschooling enables me to put all the different ages and learning styles together, letting them rub off on each other and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a very dynamic environment that allows for this kind of non-age-graded development. I hope to always have a love for art and design in our homeschool as it allows for thinking outside the box, developing solutions for real-world challenges.
This was our second week attending Homeschool Connection, which is a publicly-funded enrichment program for homeschoolers that provides some social interaction as well as instruction in fine arts, sports, science, etc. Classes are held all day on Mondays, and all three of the older girls attend. The girls wanted to take the art classes, of course, so I signed them up for everything from jewelry making to fiber arts to ceramics and added in some team sports classes as well. The school’s classes are only offered to homeschoolers, which means the teacher-student ratio is pretty small. There are only about 8 students per class, and some with only 5. Though my heart has a hard time letting go of the girls for even one day, I believe this experience is going to really help them mature this year. We always want to keep our family vision in mind whenever we commit to something like this, and after much prayer we felt that it was worthwhile to give it a try. I have warned the girls that I expect them to continue to show good behavior and proper attitudes and work ethic in chores and their “real” studies that take place Tuesday through Friday so that I can let them continue to enjoy this privilege. They like the freedom and being around other homeschoolers, and as it does provide enrichment and fun classes that are a lot harder for me to teach at home, I’m glad that we have the option. There were no schools like this when I was being homeschooled. What a difference twenty years makes. Being able to offer the girls something like this as a reward for diligence has been a huge blessing to me as well. And who doesn’t love a fun “pack-pack” (as the babies call them) and lunch box? I have enjoyed having the full day for school with the twins, as they don’t get as much one-on-one time for the rest of the week. I still don’t feel that preschool has to have all the bells and whistles and shiny, expensive items that are out there, but the twins L.O.V.E. spending time with me doing crafts and reading. It’s a blast to remember what “school” used to be like only a few short years ago when we weren’t diagramming sentences and multiplying double-digits. I feel more grateful this time around, knowing how quickly the time passes. I want to savor it and not force them to learn their letters too quickly, but slow down and do some (not all!) of the silly little crafts that help them enjoy what they are learning. After all, it only costs a little bit of extra effort to glue googly eyes on their Letter A alligators. And since I feel almost bored with only 3 children in the house, I can’t help but oblige them.