I have spent the past few weeks trying to come up with and implement playtime ideas (Hello, busy bags! How have I been unaware of these lifesavers for so many years??) for 4 boys ages 8, 6, 3 and 1. With the addition of our 3-year-old nephew to our daily lives, our days are full, and I want them to be full of good things, learning, and happy times. Griffin and Sammy are doing a great job getting their school work done in the mornings, and as we make some changes to our curriculum, they are adapting well.
We have been using Sonlight, and we love most of the books the company offers, but right now, with two preschoolers in our midst, Griffin and Sammy really need more independent study textbook/workbook type curriculum if they are going to get a full education. Sonlight, up until high school, relies on read-alouds for parts of the children's education, and there is just no way that I can guarantee we'll have time to read aloud every day, so we were a bit lacking in those subjects. Both Griffin and Sammy do well with independent study, so I'm not worried that their education will suffer if I'm not sitting right next to them. They both are good readers, not afraid of new words, and come to me whenever they need help.
We will be switching to Rod and Staff slowly but surely throughout the school year, and by next year I hope to begin the school year using all R&S curriculum. It is 1) Bible-based, 2) simple to teach, 3) simple (not necessarily easy, but simple) to learn, and 4) thorough -- some of our family's top priorities for our kids' education. It is not a flashy curriculum, not a lot of pictures and fancy stuff, but I wonder if all of that doesn't distract from the real learning anyway.
Homeschooling is definitely a refining process. Well, parenting is, really! When you teach your own children and have so many options and choices and methods and styles to choose from, you really have to dig deep and figure out what is important to you as a parent. I'm not saying that parents who don't homeschool don't know what is important to them. It's just more intense when you have to make all of the schooling decisions on a daily basis for your children.
It's a lot like doing your own housework rather than hiring a cleaning service. Or cooking your own meals rather than having a chef. Or fixing your own car rather than taking it to a mechanic. Or doing your own home maintenance rather than having all of the local maintenance companies' phone numbers on speed-dial. Or doing your own laundry rather than taking it all to the dry cleaners.
Really, our children's educations are our responsibility as parents. If we choose to delegate that responsibility to someone else, whether that be private school, public school, charter school or private tutors, we give up control of that part of our lives and allow someone else to come in and do it for us. We might still have "messes" to clean up after most of the work is done, those finishing touches that someone else might not be able to do just the way we want it done, and we can "decorate around" the work we have hired out, but for the most part someone else does the dirty work.
For our family, the "dirty work" that is homeschooling is worth everything we put into the experience, because we have found that "life IS the messy bits," as was so eloquently stated by Charlie's grandma in the movie Letters to Juliet.
Oliver has woken from his nap, so I must go. He is 19 months old now! Hard to believe he is growing up so fast. He'll be 2 before I know it.