In which I unintentionally become an unschooler. Sort of.

Today, I wrote to a “secret” group of homeschool (and former homeschool) moms, asking for perspective.  I had a feeling they’d tell me that I’m doing just fine.  So far, in fact, they have.  But in this, and in other homeschool-related endeavors, I just can’t seem to find the right balance, where I’m pleased with what we’re doing.

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My oldest three children are boys, and my youngest three are girls. I think I was/am pretty rigorous with my older boys. That approach has worked well on my oldest (now a university freshman on nearly a full-tuition scholarship), and for my 11th grader who is still homeschooling, but nearly independently. My rigorous requirements didn’t work fab on my 9th grader, who is thriving in his first year in a small, public charter school where they seem to value his… free spirit a little more than I do.

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So, I’m really only schooling my 4th and 2nd grade girls. I also have a 2-year-old who makes things challenging and helps us to laugh and gives lots of hugs and kisses. Last summer, I told myself that I was going to make school FUN for my girls, after several years of really just focusing on my boys. I started a homeschool support/play group that has unintentionally ballooned — I now lead this group that has 179 families in it. It is a very relaxed group, a social network, really. Me “leading” is really a misnomer. I organize most events and communicate with everyone in person and online. With that group, we have weekly three-hour park days. We have one or even two field trips or activities with the group nearly every week. (This week, we’re going to the library for a decorate-your-own-journal art hour, and going to a local organic farm on Friday.) The girls are in weekly piano lessons and loving it. They play together more beautifully than I ever hoped. We spend lots of time outdoors every day. I have a veggie garden and they all putter with me. Our science yesterday was inspecting cilantro blooms and seeds in various stages of development, talking about how plants bolt, bloom, become pollinated, and develop seed that we can save. They also do seat work nearly every day (journal — writing and drawing; math; handwriting; and phonics/grammar). We have done lots of reading for fun — we’re working our way through the Little House series and are currently just beginning The Long Winter. The girls read on their own, fiction and nonfiction, a ton. My almost-10-year-old is the Arts and Crafts Queen and is working on some project all the time… She also is taking every-other-week drawing lessons from two ladies from church.

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In other words, this school year is virtually everything I had hoped. HOWEVER… I’m not really an unschooler at heart. I feel much better with structure. I feel such guilt that we are on week 5 (FIVE!) of (old) Sonlight Core 2. Week five. We’ve barely gotten through anything, really.

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When I read out everything I’ve written above, it seems like I should be pleased. But, honestly, I feel a little out of sorts, like I’m doing them a disservice for not being more regimented and rigorous. We are ENJOYING the school year. Yet, I have thoughts like, “I required so much more of my sons. Am I being unconsciously sexist by doing so little real schoolwork with them??” Seriously.

I don’t know what I need to be satisfied. This school year is one of the best, experientially, we’ve ever had — and this is my 14th year!! But, I just feel so uncomfortable not checking those boxes in the Sonlight Instructor’s Guide. I feel guilty.

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At the other moms’ suggestions, I’m going to add more science and have them read aloud to each other and me.

But, mostly, I think I just need to adjust my own attitude and enjoy what is left of the year.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on March 30, 2016, in Family, Homeschooling, Life in the Desert, Motherhood, Organic Gardening, The Kids and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You know what I’d say, right? 🙂 ENJOY IT! Every homeschooling year is different, no matter how many years you’ve been doing it! So, this year is all hands-on-y and unschool-y. Next year can be different. Don’t miss the joy in what God is giving you this year by wishing for something different.

    And really, who cares if you’re on week 5. No college has ever asked for your child’s transcript from third grade. 🙂

  2. I’m a 25 year veteran of homeschooling & I’m here to say…. children vary as much, within one family, as they do in a group of families. The same applies to my children as well, now 34, 28 & 18yo. I’m currently dealing with a different experience in that our youngest decided to drop-out of (homeschool) high school. :-O Now, after 2 years, she’s picked her curriculum up again & decided to continue forward with it. Meh! Go figure! It’s a good thing I’m almost 60 years old. Not much ruffles our feathers at this season in life. 🙂 I know when I was your age, with children your children’s age, I appreciate reinforcement from mothers who had “been there, done that”…. moreso than from mothers who were my age & had children my children’s age. So I hope you consider yourself “reinforced” today. 🙂

    Blessings & peace~ Andrea
    XOXOXO

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