Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Parent Perspective

Parent Perspectives will show up on the blog from time to time. They are written by parents for parents to offer encouragement, tips and perspective on various aspects of home schooling.  If you'd like to participate, please email 53shopping@charter.net

Michelle and Tom Israel are a founding family of SLO Classical.  They are Track B and have four kids: Lucy (Freshman), Finn (7th grade), Ivy (Intermediate), and Coco (Primary).

Home Schooling Multiple Children
by Michelle Israel

Homeschooling different ages and abilities is challenging. Some folks already know the story of how I opened the front door and hurled our spelling books out because everyone hated them so much.  That was way back in the beginning, almost 7 years ago.  I wanted to check things off my list so much that I was frustrating myself and my children.  I have since learned to avoid approaching the boiling point, and tweak as I go--the list does not matter as much as I thought.  

I found it helpful to speak with each of my four children and talk about what their day might look like.  Everyone likes to know what to expect. They are all much more capable than I had given them credit for!  The younger ones start getting instruction as soon as I can get to them.  This usually means we get our 20 minutes of reading done with coffee on the couch.  Older kids can help get breakfast going in the meantime.  The poetry book, music flashcards, and memorization pieces all stay in the kitchen where we can keep it going through breakfast.  Routine is important.  Next everyone gets ready for the day and chores are done. Everyone needs to know the 2 or 3 things they can do independently.  This saves my bacon over and over again.  For my youngest, this means she can do her copy work, illustrate it, and do typing instruction while I get math going with my fourth grader.  Then we switch and I focus my Mama microscope on the next child.  The older two have plenty to do by themselves while I work with the younger two. I help the older two now if they need it. Everyone knows how to read their grid and what their independent strengths are.  If a child ends up spending more than the usual amount of time on Typer Island while I finish math or language arts with another child, the world does not crumble.  It helps to get out of the house and go for a little adventure, (my favorite).  You may not feel like it, but playing with your kids turns out to be great fun and everyone usually laughs.  Sometimes we just do errands (boring!).  Sometimes we have friends over (super fun!).

We do some of our history reading during the weekend, usually Sunday afternoon.  Sometimes we are busy and read history the next night.  This is something my husband Tom can do.  We try to talk about our history at the dinner table, maybe tie it in to something relevant in today's world.  It's all about those great conversations that occasionally happen when the children are all engaged that really hits home.  Those are special moments.

A word to all the moms out there who so naturally nurture everyone else, but themselves.  Make time for something you like to do. There really is not a knight in shining armor that will swoop you off your weary feet and take you to Calgon-land.  You must treat yourself well because you know how to better than anyone else.

Finally, the more I relaxed and surrendered to the process of being with my children, teaching them without holding on to the 'to do' list too tightly, the better it all is.  Maybe it's the passing of time that has mellowed me, but I have grown to be a more patient person with the understanding that most of the burrs under our saddles aren't worth a hoot.  It's people, relationship, and love that are worthy of our fleeting time and energies.

Thanks, Michelle, for sharing!  Tomorrow is the first campus tour of the year.  Have you invited someone? Remember that if your hair stylist or barber attends, you receive credit in the school store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michelle for the snapshot of your homeschool journey,and the reminder to play with our kids! (I'm going to add that to my grid : )