This is the first post in a series called “Courageous Jane Homeschools from A-Z.”
For more about this series, click here.
Today we’re talking about the letter “A.”
A is for … my two homeschooled “students,” A1 and A2.
A1 is the 3rd child I gave birth to. Although she is a “little sister” to our three oldest children, she is separated from the “big kids” by a minimum of 7 years. She is really more like a first-born, like an oldest child. She’s the big sister to Andrew and she definitely works hard to fulfill her big sisterly requirements.
A1 is an artist at heart, but she also likes to read, is very good at math & logic, and is a naturally domestic girl. She likes to cook and sew and do crafts and help with housework. She enjoys playing the piano, singing, and being with our dogs.
A2 is the 4th, and last, child I gave birth to. He was my 4th c-section. I had a hernia while pregnant with him and found this to be an interesting challenge while also raising a toddler and three older kids. We’re approaching his 10th birthday at the time of this writing and they’ve been 10 of the best years of my parenting.
A2 loves Legos, balls, running around like a maniac, acting goofy, and playing computer games. He’s also somewhat sensitive. Blood and gore gross him out. He doesn’t like scary things. And he’s very empathetic. He enjoys drawing comics, and is very responsible about taking care of the dogs. He also LOVES babies and little ones!
My A’s … they’re a tight-knit couple of siblings, and I have homeschooling to thank for that! I’ve had to benefit of raising my two oldest children (my stepdaughter didn’t live with us) all the way through public school. I’ve seen the good and the bad, from both the outside and the inside (I was a substitute teacher in my children’s school and at other schools). One of the benefits I can tie directly to our choice to homeschool is my children’s relationship. My older ones didn’t have much time to play together as “friends” once they were in school, and their out-of-school hours were mostly spent bickering. Couple that with the fact that once they were old enough to be home alone, both parents were working and not available to help them learn better negotiation and cooperation skills or to learn that it’s ok to get along with their siblings. Our society makes sibling rivalry and discontent seem “normal” and my oldest kids didn’t learn anything different. (This, despite my house rule which we still laughingly joke about today: “There is no hitting in this house!”)
A1 and A2 do still bicker and argue and whine and fight … but homeschooling allows me the time and opportunity to teach them better communication & negotiation skills, and to plant the seeds of humility, generosity, and forgiveness. They also have more time to spend playing with each other, and enjoying each other’s company and ideas. They don’t have school peers who are wiggling their way into their relationships. (This did happen before we chose to pull them out of public school … friends who came and wanted to lock the bedroom doors and run away from the sibling who didn’t have a friend over, etc.) They do have some great friends who also happen to homeschool, but I’ve been careful to not let those friendships come before family.
In our homeschool …
A is also for … annoying. That’s how I’d describe having to wait while a child goes to get a drink (I’m flexible like that!), or walk the dogs so they’ll leave us alone (Really? Must they always bark at us during math??), or having to stop school for the day so I can go to work (always when we’re having a great school day!). Yes, there are annoyances, but they’re worth working our way through because we LOVE homeschooling!
A is for … admitting. I think we sometimes get the idea that other homeschoolers are doing a better job than we are. In that spirit, I was to admit that there are days when I wish my kids would get on that school bus and go to that building where other adults are responsible for them so I can do my own thing for a while. Like eat, shower, and go to the bathroom without having to hear the word “Mom” before I’m even halfway done. Or, so I could read, and read, and read (or write) … all. day. long! Oh, what a luxury that would be!
Admitting … that there are days when we don’t do any school work because we’re tired and grumpy and it’s gray and wet outside and we’re not very good company for each other so we resort to computers and tv’s and books and we all retreat to our own corners.
Admitting … we don’t always eat very well. We try … but we are not “that homeschool family” that bakes it’s own bread or has a hot meal for lunch. Truth is, at our house, lunch is a DIY situation. I’ve taught them well and they know how to get their own and just ask “Can I have a cookie now?” (My answer: “Have you had a fruit or vegetable yet?!?”)
Admitting … when I’m wrong.
A is for … allowing … my children to make most of their own choices, within reason … about what they eat, read, and want to learn about ( … outside of the curriculum I choose and pay for! We’re not really unschoolers.). I am raising future adults and I want them to be confident about making choices. They learn from making poor choices, and they gain confidence when they make good ones. They are praised for the good ones, and walked through a thinking process about what consequences their poor choices have led to. We don’t dwell on poor choices. We learn and move on. And we build on the good choices, allowing more freedom for each sign of maturity.
Allowing … my children to see me make mistakes, get angry sometimes, grieve, be sad or hurt or exuberant … a whole range of feelings.
Allowing … my children to see my husband and I show each other kindness and gentle affection for each other. These are things I want them to emulate and what I hope for their own future marriages.
A is for … admiring … those who are homeschooling more than two children, or children who are at more distinctly different levels (mine are only two years apart and can often be taught together), and/or are homeschooling older children with toddlers and babies in tow! Let’s just include here anyone who is already homeschooling high school, because I’m just not ready yet, and anyone who is homeschooling while working full-time! Yes, I admire each and every one of you! Bravo!
Admiring ... those who live without tv’s. I’d love to go without the noise, but not the entertainment. I grew up with it and in reality, I still love it … when the kids aren’t making noise nearby! Yeah, that makes me a little ouchy! (A little?!?) Honestly, I can only imagine how much smarter my kids would be if we never had a tv … but I really do like my kids the way they are, and I like my electronic entertainment. It’s just the way we are.
Admiring … anyone who is completely and totally out of debt! It’s the goal we’re working toward, and we’d be a lot closer if we hadn’t decided to build a barn! Some day … some day! (And then when we are debt-free, I can buy any new curriculum or software or electronic device any time I want!!!)
A is for …Alarming! as in “It’s alarming how in love I am with curriculum and how much money I’m willing to spend on school books and educational software!” It’s also alarming how much I love electronic devices! I may have enough to open my own electronics store soon. It’s also alarming how much I love words. Thanks for reading mine, dear friends!
~ Courageous Jane
“A1” and “A2” is how we label things in our house, since both kids have names that start with A. I know some people assign a different color to each child, then all of their belongings are color-coded. Do you have a labeling or organizing system that works for your family?