Monday Motherhood: Homeschool – A Beginning

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I don’t claim to have any answers about homeschooling or parenting.  I just know that if I don’t start somewhere, then I’ll never get anywhere.  That is what I have learned about grace.  You do what you can with what you have without expecting perfection, and then you keep modifying the results until you get to where you want to be.  Maybe we will never “arrive” at where we want to be, but we will never even come close if we never begin.

If there is anything I have learned from studying about the different homeschool methods, it is how to be a better mother.  If I never hold a single day of “homeschool” in my life, I will at least have learned how to be a better mom to my kids, to manage our time better, to be more patient with them, and to respond more tenderly to their needs and their questions.  They are a real treasure that I hope to cherish whatever we end up doing with their education.

I have been enjoying reading about the “Moore Method” in “The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook” by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore.  Very encouraging.  I also gleaned insight from the LDS-NHA (http://www.lds-nha.org/homeschooling-philosophies/) to determine what kind of homeschool I want to run here.  I am trying to skim through books about the Montessori Method, and the Thomas Jefferson Education, and other books recommended for understanding the different methods.

On one hand, I really appreciate the Classical approach because I am convinced that making standard works a part of our education and character really is an eternal principle.  The Lord said in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 118 “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”  The first thing God did when restoring His church was instruct Joseph Smith to translate The Book of Mormon.  And, within that book, the first thing the Lord needed Lehi to do was retrieve the Brass Plates so that the Nephites would not “[suffer] in ignorance” (Mosiah 1:3).  So, to that extent, I know it is important that my children read the standard works of our church and our nation, at the very least.

I guess that puts me in the “eclectic” category because, while I like classical education, I don’t want it to be the only thing we do.  I am leaning more toward the “Unit studies” method because I really like the idea of exploring topics thoroughly, understanding the whys and the hows, and exploring other subjects within that topic.  The Moores explain this method pretty well.  It pretty-much encapsulates what it is to be a teaching parent at all times.  It promotes natural teaching as part of the process of raising a child, and I love that.  But unlike “Unschooling” I like the idea of directing the conversation while fueling their desire to learn.

I also love the Moore Method’s idea of promoting “study, work, and service” (http://www.moorehomeschooling.com/article/68/about-moore-home-schooling/moore-formula).  I believe those are all crucial to raising balanced leaders.

I was excited when I read the schedule the Moores suggested in their book because it was almost the exact same schedule I was already trying to establish in my home!  In my mind, if I can establish this foundation, everything else will fall into place.  Remember, it may not be what works for you, and it might not always be what works for me, but it is what I have to work with at this time in the process of my learning.

6:00 am Mommy shower and study the scriptures
7:00 am Breakfast, and chores*
9:00 am “School”, beginning with morning devotional (which for my tiny kids, means play together, some phonics and basic math, music time, and motor activities)
12:00 pm lunch and quiet time
2:00 pm exercise, errands, service, projects, work, cook/prepare meals (this leaves room for extra chores, visiting friends, field trips, serving our neighborhood, and generating other ideas).
5:30 pm dinner, and family time
7:00 pm Kids’ baths, bedtime routine, and night devotional
7:30 pm Kids in bed.  Mommy finish up chores
8:00 pm Mommy free time, read, play, exercise, etc.
10:00 pm Mommy bedtime

Here is how I maintain my home: the kids and I always work together.  The rule is that if someone is still working, then everyone is still working because we’re a family and we work together.

*Morning chores: Empty the dishwasher, pick up main level, sweep/vacuum, switch laundry, do weekly chore.**

Throughout the day: put dishes into the dishwasher, pick up toys.

**Weekly chores:
Monday – collect garbage and recycling
Tuesday – Clean up bedrooms
Wednesday – Bathrooms
Thursday – Collect garbage
Friday – Catch up on laundry
Saturday – Landscaping

Evening: Clean up kitchen, switch the laundry, fold.  When you do this stuff every day, it starts to become a quick 15 minute fix (See http://www.flylady.net/d/br/2012/05/11/15-minutes-worth-of-messy/).

This varies a lot.  Maybe if life were perfect we would always keep this schedule, but it is ideal. I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work one day.  I just try again the next!  The point is to find what works for you and give it a try!

My goal at this point is to just keep this schedule, which includes being WITH my kids for that three hour “school” time block in the morning.  Like I said, if there is anything I learn from all of this, it is just how to be a better mom because I cannot recall any time in my kids’ lives that I have actually sat down and played with them for even that long.  While I was pregnant, I was too tired and awkward to get down and play with them.  I realized how much I relied on TV to get me through the day, or how often I would leave them to play and dink around on the computer/smart phone!  Now we watch very little TV.  It rarely even factors into our schedule except when the kids are up before I shower.

Anyway, this is a work in progress.  I think it will become easier as time goes by.  My daughter is really catching on to it and will occasionally tell ME what is next on the schedule.  She is pretty awesome.

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