Published with Permission
By Julie Cerdas
After reading The Dan Riley School for a Girl as a college student, I knew I wanted to home school any future kids. Of course I was single at the time, but this thought stayed with me. When our daughter, now 4, was born, it became evident that she was a quick baby—she sat up, crawled, talked, and walked early and then picked up the alphabet on her own. By age 2 she was reading, and not because I was pushing it! By the time she was 2-1/2 she was determined to write. I don’t say this to boast but rather to drive home my next thought: How could we send her to preschool where she would be learning a letter, color, and number per week when she already knew all that? I remembered reading the aforementioned book and started to look for blogs and other books about homeschooling. My husband and I had many conversations and prayers and finally decided we would home school.
What I love about homeschooling is that it is ever evolving.
As you learn more about your children, you are better able to adapt your environment for them, enabling them to be even more successful. We started out with the Montessori method, which we love for preschool, but as Nadia became more and more academically capable and in need of more structure, we set up workboxes for her. We had tried workboxes the year before, but she hadn’t been ready. Now they have freed me up to work a bit with our 2-year-old son, Jeremy. Our workboxes are magazine boxes from IKEA, set up on our Expedit bookshelf. Nadia has a tall desk with lots of space to spread out. She only recently got this desk; prior to this, the children had a child-sized table, which is now in the playroom for crafting. Use of the adult-sized desk protects her from the distraction of Jeremy’s invasive curiosity about her schoolwork.
Currently, because my daughter should only be in K4 (we don’t have to report to the state yet) but is doing second-grade level work, and because my son is only 2, we have a very loose schedule. On a good day, we move into our Montessori schoolroom right after breakfast to do calendar-related activities and read our Five in a Row book. After our Five in a Row discussion or activity, Nadia starts on her workbox activities while I give Jeremy Montessori presentations. Nadia is enjoying the workboxes and specifically loves to move the numbers from the boxes to the accountability strip. Her favorite resource is her Wordly Wise 3000 vocabulary workbook. In her free time, Nadia spends a lot of time using the writing center and writing sentences and short stories and drawing pictures or tracing shells from our collection.
My son prefers to wander around in the practical life area, spooning and tweezing objects and doing puzzles. Both children adore being read to. I read aloud to them a lot, choosing books from the reading lists at Sonlight, Ambleside Online, My Father’s World, Living Books Curriculum, and a great book I just purchased called Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson. I also recently took an online course called Playful Learning Spaces E-Course, which has greatly influenced how I place materials in the schoolroom and elsewhere in the house.
Although we do Montessori for preschool, we also do Classical Conversations once a week and are moving toward a more Charlotte Mason and Classical model of learning. We are definitely an eclectic home school, utilizing the parts of various models that resonate with us most.
My husband, Javier, is very supportive and has given me the full responsibility of choosing curricula and materials. I try to spend the least money possible but am glad to have the freedom and ability to choose what I feel led to use. I also used to have the full responsibility of teaching, but recently Javier has taken over the Bible reading and is leading the children in prayer more as well. I hope that soon we will be able to carve out a bit of time for him to do formal Spanish lessons with the children. In the meantime, I am thankful for all the evenings he bathes the kids, reads bedtime stories, and does dishes, because I do a lot of my preparing and planning in the evening.
I think the planning is my biggest challenge with homeschooling. There are so many ideas out there and so many great curricula from which to choose. It is certainly overwhelming, to say the least. The best advice I have ever received is to find the curriculum that works and that you like and then stop looking! It’s just too easy to want to switch all the time!
There is great encouragement to be had from forums and other homeschooling parents. My Classical Conversations community is fabulous, and our family has made some fantastic friends there. My daily devotional time and prayer for strength and patience certainly help too. My greatest encouragement comes from seeing and being with my children all day. Seeing their excitement about the books we read and the activities we do and being witness to their growing love of God strengthens me and keeps me going. I love my children so very much and am delighted that I get to spend more time with them growing up through homeschooling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Julie Cerdas was born in Quebec, Canada, and now lives in the southeastern United States. She loves God, her handsome husband, her two beautiful children, and taking walks in the woods. Julie blogs about home education at The Adventures of Bear (theadventuresofbear.blogspot.com).
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free atwww.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the freeTOS Apps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.