Last September, we embarked on an adventure: homeschooling our oldest. He was five turning six in November, which made it mandatory for him to be enrolled in school where we live.
His sister was three at the time and, as such, we thought of her as our preschooler. I worked with her through some preschool materials because she showed interest.
The main reason we decided to homeschool our children is time. I could not wrap my mind around my children spending seven hours away from me every day in the name of education. I speak several languages and have a college degree. I figured I could manage to educate my children.
So here are our 10 kindergarten and preschool lessons from our first homeschooling year:
1. Mommy, relax. Seriously. You have another 12 years to teach him everything he needs to know before he heads to college.
2. Kindergarten boy, you must do your school work before you can play.
3. Preschool girl, sometimes you must play by yourself while mommy works with brother.
4. Pray for wisdom – all of us.
The rest of the lessons are all for mom.
5. Allow God to plan our homeschool schedule.
I knew I wanted my children involved in the Adventurer Club at our church. It meant driving for two hours round trip one day a week so we could participate in a 90-minute program. A bit much, but we got settled into that routine.
Two months later, I found a violin teacher for my son who could accommodate us on that day at just the right time. Two more months later, I found a soccer program which falls on the same day and just early enough so we could commute to the violin teacher in 15 minutes.
I would have never known how to come up with such a schedule of activities one hour away from home. But God provides the right emails with the right information at the right time.
6. Connect with other homeschoolers. OK, so I knew about this before, but now that my children are getting a bit older, I see how much fun they are having playing with other children. We attend craft time for homeschoolers twice a month, at the library.
7. Pay attention to the stages your children are in. This one is a corollary of the above. Six months ago, I would not have made the drive (one hour both ways) to the library for craft time. My daughter was still learning to potty and my son was not that keen on craft projects as an active five-year-old boy.
But now she is four. She gives me ample warnings before I need to take her to the restroom. He is interested in crafts and making things with his hands.
Different stages require different activities. That’s what customizing our children’s education looks like.
8. Spend three hours outside every day. Even though we limit our children’s screen time to half an hour daily, we still found that we spent too much time indoors. I wanted all of us to appreciate nature more. A camping trip with their Adventurer Club showed us how happy we all are (and how much better we sleep at night) if we spend most of the day outside.
9. Make sandwiches for lunch. One of my stressors was finishing up school with them by 11:00am so I can start on lunch preparation. They got cranky as they got hungry and started fighting right as I was whipping up meals in the kitchen. No more. We make sandwiches for lunch. Together. Everybody is happy.
10. Don’t be afraid to add a third language. Translation: teach them French already. You see, my children are bilingual. I have been speaking Romanian to them since birth. My husband is American, so it’s all English with him. I majored in French at the University of Bucharest and I have a passion for sharing that knowledge with my children.
I got all my resources lined up, including the courage to speak to them in French and add the Romanian translation right afterward. They don’t know this yet, but, after four months, it will be all French, no translation. We call it immersion, baby.
Now, when people ask me where my children go to school, I tell them they attend a foreign language academy called “La Maison” (French for “The House”).
We look forward to our first summer break and are excited to start our second year of homeschooling in the Fall. We have always said, “We will take it one year at a time,” but, so far so good. We could not imagine not homeschooling next year.
Adriana Zoder is a polyglot, newspaper columnist, author and homeschooling mom of two. Her husband reluctantly agreed when she wanted to homeschool them, but, after this first, successful year, they cannot imagine not homeschooling next year. Adriana blogs at Homeschool Ways, an award-winning blog.