For the second part of this post I thought I would address the most commonly asked question I get about homeschooling, and give a run-down of our daily schedule.
"Don't you worry about socialization"?
I have several answers for that one. First of all--If you've met my kids, you probably noticed they are incredibly social. I've never been concerned with their social abilities. They have social skills in spades. But in answering the question generally I would say that school does very little to foster socialization. 99% of the time in school they are told to STOP socializing. They get maybe 30 minutes in a school day to just socialize without being told to stop. Kids socialize in spite of the school structure, not because of it. Additionally, my kids have neighborhood friends, church friends, sports-team friends, and friends we've made being part of our homeschool group. Most important to me is the fact that they are friends with each other. Their bond as siblings has gotten so much tighter in the last year. They are all on team Malleycat, and it's awesome.
So what does a day-in-the-life-of-a-homeschooling-malleycat look like?
Once everyone wakes up and gets dressed we do breakfast, chores, and then we get started with school around 9 am. We all start with prayer and read scriptures. Then I give Bennett some independent work--like spelling, handwriting, or journal assignments while I start Lincoln and Eloise on Math. While they do their worksheets while I get Bennett started on Math. As he works on his worksheet, I read with the Twinkies, after which they do handwriting or journal assignments. Then they take a break while I do grammar and writing with Bennett. Then we take a break for lunch.
What is Oliver (age 3) doing during that whole time you ask? And what about Cooper (age 1)? I haven't required anything formal from Oliver this past year--but he is all about "school"! He loves to be in the room with us (at our dining room table) working on puzzles, drawing pictures, doing his preschool workbook, or playing with the math manipulatives. As a result he has learned a TON just being in the room with us. In fact, he has started reading! It's amazing how much of a sponge he is. I plan to start working with him more this next year, and I can't wait! For the bulk of this first year Cooper has napped during a big portion of our schoolwork. Now that he's given up his morning nap, he is generally content to either watch Sesame Street, have a snack and play while we get our stuff done. I'm not quite sure how that will change this next year, but we will go with the flow. After lunch we do history a couple days a week, and the other days we do science. All in all, we are totally done with school within 3 hours. It's fantastic! We have the rest of the afternoon to go on field trips, play, read, run errands, or whatever else we want.
Having that extra time makes things like sports practices or other evening obligations so much easier. Gone are the days of feeling like we were constantly in a rush, with barely enough time to get home from school, do homework, go to practice, eat dinner and go to bed---only to repeat it the next day. Gone are the days of Bennett coming home from school and starting a fight 5 minutes later. Nowadays it's actually pretty rare for there to be fighting in our house. Our home is peaceful, happy and calm. It's my favorite place to be.
Another reason I love homeschooling is that I have time to teach my kids "life skills". My kids (ages 8 and under) can make their own lunch, chop veggies, vaccuum, clean bathrooms, change sheets, unload a dishwasher, fold laundry and put it away. We have the mentality in our house that everyone pitches in and the work gets done fast! When we were dealing with the hustle and bustle of the regular school day along with all our other obligations there just wasn't much time to dedicate to life skills--and the burden largely fell to me to do those things. That's not to say I couldn't have found time to make sure those things happened with the kids, but more often that not I would find myself saying, "It's just easier if I do it..." thus depriving my little darlings of cleaning a toilet! Not anymore! When they used to complain about putting laundry away I implemented the rule that if you complained about it, you put everyone's laundry away. That only happened a few times before they learned that complaining about it never makes it better! Most of the time they do their jobs happily and sometimes without being asked. That makes for one happy mama.
Of course it isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Teaching 5 year olds to read is possibly the most frustrating thing I've ever done. I've made my kids cry during math because I lost my patience. Sometimes I wish I had more alone time to just go to Target by myself in peace. Sometimes my house is messy because there are so many little bodies dirtying it faster than it can get cleaned. But at the end of the day, teaching my kids at home has been the most rewarding job I've ever had. I am constantly learning right along with them, and I love that feeling. I love seeing them excited about what we're doing, and being part of that process. It is my absolute honor and privilege to be their mom.
Raising and educating kids is all-consuming for any parent, regardless of how you choose to do it. I'm a big believer that what works for one family, doesn't necessarily work for another--so I hope this is read with the understanding that I in no way think that my way is the only way one can successfully raise bright, hard-working kids. I'm just thrilled to have found such happiness and joy in taking our journey into homeschooling, and thought maybe this would provide some insight into what really goes on in the life of a homeschooling family!