My first year of homeschooling five-year-old Cory, I was SO frustrated. I had all these books, workbooks, and worksheets that the curriculum said I needed to accomplish every day. My son was an active boy and didn’t want to cooperate. I’d fume and grow angry and make him sit there and work. I’d give anything to go back to those days and do things differently.
Thankfully in later years, things did get better—but it had to do more with the changes with me than the changes in my son.
Then, I took a class at church called Bringing Up Boys. This study was so helpful. Dr. Dobson explained that school was designed by women and that girls excelled in it. Boys were not designed to sit at desks, and write, and be quiet and listen, and reflect, and . . . (you get the picture). He encouraged parents to let the boys run and play. He encouraged parents not to crush their boys’ spirit by trying to make them something they weren’t.
These thoughts greatly impacted my homeschooling. We did more running around. We went on nature hikes. We read books together (books about castles and swords and all sorts of things my boys were interested in). We worked on flashcards while they jumped up and down and did somersaults. We did unit studies together (I love Amanda Bennett’s studies!), and we did very little writing or worksheets—which made them happy. I also got educational video games, and when they got in fourth grade, I use Switched on Schoolhouse and they did their work on the computer. They liked working on the computer much more than they did writing. And they were learning . . . a lot!
In addition to Switched on Schoolhouse and occasional unit studies, we continued to memorize Scripture, work on crafts and chores, and go on walks, and we participated in group events with other homeschooling kids or kids from church.
Another thing I did was prayed and asked God to mold me. (I talk about a lot of what God showed me during these years in my book Blue like Play Dough.) God did a lot of work during these years, and it started with Him changing me. One thing God showed me was I had unrealistic expectations for my kids—they would never be perfect no matter what I did. They would struggle, they would sin, and they would mess up. All of us do. God also showed me that instead of my kids being empty vessels I had to fill up with information, values, and skills, my kids were designed by Him for His purpose and I needed to focus on their strengthens—in how God created them. Once I figured out the way they liked learning, it made all the difference—for both of us.
I’ve learned a lot throughout the years, and I’m a very different mom with two-year-old Alyssa than I was with the older kids. I love them all, but I’ve learned to relax. I’ve also learned to enjoy our time together—instead of fighting over things that really don’t matter in the long run—because the years go fast.
I hope that helps! For more homeschooling advice, check out this article I wrote for Impart Magazine here!