Our Transition from Public School to Homeschool
10 Lessons I learned along the way
Beginning at the beginning…
To prepare for the start of our first homeschool year I did a lot of reading and research on methods and curriculum. I also purchased various software and resources that I believed would make our homeschool a success. In addition to the administrative side of things, I made sure to physically set-up an area that I believed would ease the transition of our two elementary aged girls. The youngest was never enrolled in public school so she had no preconceived ideas of what “school” or “learning” should look like.
Just like school…
I did my best to mimic a traditional public school day and schedule. Our days were full of “busy” work and time constrains that left little room for self-paced learning, curiosity, mastery, or exploring. I would get frustrated and stressed, which in turn would frustrate and stress my keiki. My best laid plans were beginning to vaporize right before my eyes. What was I doing wrong? How do I fix this? Why would parents want to subject their keiki to this type of home life? Is this really how itʻs supposed to be?
All these questions buzzed around in my brain, like a swarm of angry bees. I recall countless times when my day would end in tears. I would cry for my girls. I would cry because I felt like I was failing them. Sometimes, we would all be crying. I didn’t want to do this anymore. Not like this anyway! So, back to the drawing board (the Worldwide Web and Public Library) for more research and guidance.
I was determined to not give-up so easily. Iʻm not sure if that stems from my years (since the age of 5 yrs.) of training as a hula dancer or I because I have a suborn streak, but lets just say a bit of both, for argumentʻs sake. I talked with my always loving and supportive husband, then we talked with our girls. We were determined to work together and figure out a solution. We knew from past experiences that if we pulled together as an Ohana should, we could figure this homeschooling-thing out.
Our Homeschool evolution…
If I remember correctly, one of the first things to go was the “like-school” time constrains. No more militant like blocks (e.g.- Math 8:15am to 9:00am) to shove a particular subject and child into. That action alone created such a relief for all of us. I know we felt better already. This bit of breathing room made things less stressful, thereby making our homeschooling more enjoyable.
Don’t get me wrong, structure isnʻt “bad”. But, like the saying goes; you can have too much of a good thing. I unfortunately learned this the hard way, but I did learn and was able to save us from further agony…LOL!
Quality over Quantity lesson…
However, we were just getting started. Next came the “busy work” that I thought they needed in order to grasp a new subject or concept. I failed to realize at the time that I didn’t need to cast a broad net to teach my girls. That style of teaching was tailor made for a traditional classroom.
What I needed was to hone in on my keikiʻs particular learning styles and preferences. Then customize our lessons and itʻs delivery method to suite them. “AHA!” Mama moment =) By doing just that we were able to maximize our lesson time. In our home we have one keiki who is a predominantly visual learner, one who is more audio (and experiences audio overload), and the other who I currently believe is more kinetic, she is still pretty wiggly. This has led us to more library trips, beach days, and adventures.
What is a rhythm?…
If I had to classify our original homeschool rhythm it would be along the lines of a dripping faucet. You know that constant, non-varying, and rather annoying drip, drip, drip. Why did I not see it, sense it? I think I was too focused on the trees at the time that I forgot all about the forest. That, and I was a bit, okay probably extremely over zealous. But, hey what do you expect? I was navigating uncharted waters and I wanted to make sure we were going to reach our destination. Where exactly is that?, you might wonder.
How does it look?…
Well Homeschool Ohana, Iʻm proud to say that itʻs definitely not another “system” or “box”. I canʻt pinpoint the destination exactly because our rhythm changes quite frequently, however what I do know is that I want my keiki to maintain their natural curiosities and to develop a love of learning. I encourage them to seek out their own answers to their questions. We then discuss these new ideas and see where we can link it to any prior knowledge or information that we know. My outlook now I would say is more about cultivating our knowledge garden, and less about “doing school work”.
Our Harmonious (and at times Sporadic) Rhythm…
The visual I offer you now is that of a wind chime. Ever present, yet with various melodies, volumes and at times quietly swaying to a gentle breeze. There are times when you can see a wind chime move, but it makes no sound at all. There are times when I still doubt myself in the ability to teach my keiki. Nonetheless, I remind myself that just because I may not hear or see them learning, thatʻs not necessarily the case. Just like wind chimes, my girls each have their own sound, rhythm, and moments of quite. And when they are ready they will share their melodies in their own special way.
10 Lessons learned along the way…
Lesson #1- Question your foci regularly to prevent it from becoming a hinderance.
Lesson #2- Allow your keiki to help guide you.
Lesson #3- If itʻs causing you or your Ohana stress/distress, find another way.
Lesson #4- Playing and Ohana time are part of learning
Lesson #5- Just because it worked for one child, doesnʻt mean itʻs right for all.
Lesson #6- Fill their surroundings with curiosity provoking stimuli.
Lesson #7- Learning and school work donʻt have to be done at a table.
Lesson #8- Learn along side your keiki. Show them how you learn.
Lesson #9- Read, Read to them, Read with them, and have them read to you.
Lesson #10- Enroll them in a Summer program/camp, because they need a break from you…LOL!!
A new and old path…
With the end of the current homeschool year my girls will again be attending our favorite summer program. As for me, Iʻve already begun my planning for next year. We moved into our new home at the beginning of May (2019) so, our rhythm has had a bit of a shift.
The girls and I are outside more, and we have even started a fairy garden. My Hiʻilani is growing her first strawberry plant, while Keaka (our high schooler) has started growing potatoes; in an old laundry basket (she loves potatoes by the way, but dislikes getting dirty).
Going forward I fully intend to incorporate more “malama aina” (care-taking of the land) and growing our own food as part of our Ohana rhythm. Iʻm more excited about growing food right now and all the hands-on lessons we will experience; than curriculum. I know that might sound weird, but at this point in our journey Iʻm completely content with that. Who knows what else the future may hold, but for our Ohana itʻs sure to be an adventure. Until next time Homeschool Adventurers, keep curiously seeking your best homeschool life!
Aloha & Blessings!
P.S.~ Iʻll be doing a curriculum review soon, which Iʻm super excited about. Itʻs something I’ve / weʻve never done before, so stay tuned to find out more!