So here we are, more than midway through our Adventures in Kindergarten, and I really thought it was time for an update. This “Home Academy” blog has been poorly neglected, but the reasons for that fit quite nicely into what I want to say today, anyway. Don’t you love it when everything matches and has a theme? I sure do.
Because, what I have learned foremost in my first year as a homeschool-teacher is this: homeschool happens.
Meaning, more often than not, there is not anything really noteworthy (or for that matter, blogworthy) about our days here, other than the typical beauty that is found in a life lived in simplicity at home.
I am not so creative that I have neat little craft ideas or recipes to share, and I am not such a pioneer in the field of home education that I have worldview-shifting philosophies to inspire and motivate you. Thankfully, there is a wealth of ideologies out there already that speak far more eloquently than I ever could (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Mason, xoxo), and my sisters on Pinterest have got the awesome snacks and tricked-out craft department more than covered.
But what I do have to offer is some gentle encouragement by way of transparency and honesty…
As much as I absolutely adored our first days of school, with the strict schedule and the novelty and the whimsy (and believe me, I wouldn’t change a thing about it!), as time has wore on, and as I have traveled through the very dark and difficult days of 1st trimester pregnancy misery, school hasn’t so much taken a back burner as it has simply found a way to fit into our life, whatever our life looks like on any given day.
And I think that’s what homeschool is all about.
One of the most notable benefits I have observed during our first year of schooling is that my kids are learning the great art of flexibility and self-education, as well as self-entertainment. As much as I would love to coddle them and max our days out with back-to-back colorful and educational activities, life just isn’t like that. At least mine isn’t.
It can be hectic.
And it hardly ever goes as planned.
And so one of my very favorite things about the first half of our first year has been watching my Kindergartener, as he has learned his letter sounds and early reading skills and how to tell time, learn to live.
Here are a few examples of Gideon’s greatest accomplishments in Kindergarten thus far (in Schoolmarmee’s sort-of-humble opinion):
- Learning to appreciate the library.
- Learning to concentrate on school with one sister crying at our feet and one watching “Little Bear” in the living room.
- Learning to accompany me and his Papa on church calls and to sit quietly and respectfully while we visit. I’ll share more on this in the future.
- Learning to become best friends with his siblings and to help take care of them.
- Learning to hold the door open for me and his sisters.
- Helping me bake, helping Papa build things, and helping with cleaning and yard work.
- Learning to listen sort-of intently to chapter books with no pictures. He even chose this over a television show today! Major score.
- Learning to paint and draw from his imagination rather than always using pre-made coloring sheets.
- Identifying and naming classical music selections and their composers and giving vivid descriptions of what the music makes him think of.
- Growing in his love for his entire family and desiring more and more to do kind things for them.
- Learning to come to us and confess when he has done wrong, before praying and asking God to keep “fixing his heart”. This is my favorite development of the year.
- Learning to have good manners, at the table, at church, in the car, on errands, and at home.
- Learning his first song on the piano.
- Learning to read simple words and books.
- Developing the foundational stages of his theology.
- Memorizing dozens of nursery rhymes and songs, including some hymns that he really loves.
- Learning to dress himself, if not appropriately, at least in an always interesting manner (and I have learned to just go with it).
- Learning to dislike bullying and cruelty, to people and animals.
- Learning to become friends with nature and find fulfillment just by being outside.
- Working simple math problems, at his own pace and for his own enjoyment.
Notice I said “learn-ING” a lot; he is not yet master of any of those subjects, but I share all of these things for one simple reason: in all honesty, I wasn’t very terribly intentional in all of the above. And that’s what I mean when I say “homeschool happens”, because, as we live and move as a family unit, sitting down to read here, listening to music together there, and fleshing out the triumphs and trials of the Christian life in front of each other, we naturally grow. We learn. We develop. We flourish in the things we are good at and we learn to persevere in the things we are not so good at.
Yes, I have to “do school”. Unfortunately, I can’t just throw out a bunch of worksheets and say “figure it out.” And the only reason Gideon can name songs and composers is because I taught him. But my point is, the greatest school moments we have had this year took place when we were doing life, and when we, as a family, were enjoying the things we love.
Homeschool happens, you guys! Especially in the sweet, simple and flexible year of Kindergarten.
And all that was my very roundabout way of saying this: if you’re feeling down that your homeschool isn’t very organized and looks nothing like the schools in the land of blogs and Pinterest, take a moment to catalogue what your children have learned, and take inventory, not just on the hours of your schooldays and the number of projects on your wall, but on all of your moments and days together as a family, and on how your little man or your little lady has changed over the past year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be surprised to find that you’re doing more than fine, and learning far more than you even realized.
Every single one of you.