Homeschool Do-Over

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Homeschool Do-Over ~ 500th Episode!

homeschool do-oversDo you wish you had a homeschool do-over? What would that look like? After over thirty-two years of homeschooling, there were many things I wish I had done differently. Join your host, Felice Gerwitz, as she celebrates her 500th Podcast Episode for Vintage Homeschool Moms.

Don’t miss the special 500th Episode Giveaway HERE.

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For the notes to today’s broadcast, you can find them at vintageschoolmoms.com. Look for episode 500, Homeschool Do-Over

Well, here we are, episode 500, and the topic today is Homeschool due over. If I could go back and begin my Homeschool journey again, which began in 1986-87, I would do so many things differently. But isn’t that the way? How many of us are truly happy with something as precious as a homeschool journey? Our children are the most precious things in our lives, probably after our faith in God and or spouse. Our children are important, as they should be. In all aspects of their life, not just in schooling. What is amazing is at home. Schooling is all-encompassing. It isn’t just about academics. It’s about spiritual growth, mental growth, and of course, physical growth. As parents, we want the best for our children, and there is always room for improvement. 

But I want to assure you that a bad day of homeschooling is better than a bad day in public or private education.

In addition, I have talked to hundreds of homeschooling parents for many years as a Conference speaker, and I know that their hearts are in the right place. Sometimes our execution could use improvement, but for the most part, you, Mom and Dad, and Grandparents are doing it well!

But again, the topic of this podcast is Homeschool Do-Overs, so here goes! If I were homeschooling my five children over again, I’d do many things differently. However, there were some things I would not change. 

So what would I do differently? I decided to break it up into sections first, faith, family second, household third, and lastly, homeschooling.

Why? Due to the many different dynamics of homeschooling. I want to share a synopsis rather than a play-by-play of everything I would have done differently! Especially since I started homeschooling in 1986. We’d be here all day, if not longer, since I finished my homeschool journey in 2018, clocking in at 32 years. Yes. I know. 

Truthfully, I was not passionate about homeschooling until a full year or two into my homeschool journey. Once I realized the benefit of homeschooling and saw the caliber of my new homeschool friends and their passion, I was sold. Tip number one, find like-minded friends! Once I found like-minded friends and those who shared my faith and family values, I knew I was in it for the long haul.

I started strongest with my two oldest, and I could tell you I continued at that pace with my youngest three, but I didn’t. In essence, I had a chance to do it over with the three youngest, but if I had to pick a time I was a better homeschool parent, I’d say it was with the oldest two. I was more relaxed once I embraced homeschooling.

What is Homeschooling?

Homeschooling is a chance to combine faith, family, and education. It is a chance to encourage your children to love the Lord, family, and school! It allows us to raise independent thinkers, and it is a chance to spend time with our children that we can never get back if they are in traditional education.

All of my children are now adults, and they live faith-filled and productive lives, yet I believe it is by the grace of God. There were many prayers said during our homeschool years and still today. I prayed about everything related to family and homeschooling, which helped our journey.

A synopsis of faith and homeschool do-over:

This is an area that I feel good about, in that we had the freedom to practice our faith and delve into good spiritual books that we used as read-aloud that focused on character traits of the saints and other godly men and women of God. We had good Bible studies, used Bible timelines, and participated in First Fridays with our homeschool community. The area I would have improved upon was assigning more books in the high school year, such as all of the C.S. Lewis books, not just Mere Christianity and the Screw Tape Letters. I would have included a course on Relativism which permeates our world today. The idea that it is “all good” or “your truth” comes from a lack of education and focus on the real truth, not some made-up version. My children have shared difficulty articulating beliefs, and we could all improve in this area.

A synopsis of my family dynamics homeschool do-over:

Now let’s look at family. I do wish I had been more disciplined to follow through and back up, “No means no, and yes means yes.”  Let’s face it, parents, we are typically swayed by our children. It’s just the nature of parenting. We feel worse for the discipline we give out often than they do. Sometimes I went overboard; for example, my poor second child had to endure one year of no sleepovers! Yes, and the entire year. For one reason, I didn’t like them. I was never a big fan of sleepovers in the first place, especially when my children were younger. However, it turned out to be a good thing, and my daughter has followed in my footsteps, even though she was the one who suffered at the time. In other words, God uses those times for good, even during our worse or over-the-top decisions.

I wish I had worked on one of my children’s attitudes and focused on some of the things that would carry him forward in life. All are self-disciplined except one. [There is a class in the works about cultivating a climate of good attitude within families.] This brings me to another point. I wish I had realized what worked for one does not work for all of them. Even the good methods or ideas! We are a close-knit family, and having family meetings occasionally worked. 

A synopsis of my household management homeschool do-over:

As far as a household goes, that is an area I struggled with; at times, I could not balance a perfectly clean home and well-educated children. I had to pick one! Sure, we had both somewhat in hand at different times, but more times than I can say, the house suffered. We did not have a perfect home where I could feel that people could stop by and we would be willing to host them at a moment’s notice.

I read all kinds of blogs about having meals planned ahead, schedules for cleaning, and having the kids picked up before the day’s end or before dad came home, as well as having a home that could take visitors anytime without worry.  My in-laws often receive company from up north, and they love to show off the house which their son built, and rightly so. Our home is not fancy but well-built, and I love it! We lived about thirty minutes away.  At this point, all learning stopped, and all hands were on deck to get the house in some semblance of order before our visitors came. Sometimes I said no, and I had a good enough relationship with my husband’s parents that they understood. Still, it was something I wish I did better. I put pressure on myself. We all have insecurities, and this was one of mine! As the years progressed, our homeschool moved upstairs, which was wonderful! The mess was contained in one place, and we could keep the downstairs neat enough.

Friends, sometimes it takes time or years, but your family takes precedence. Even so, our house was never dirty – I can’t handle dirt or dishes in the sink, but it wasn’t my mother-in-law’s standard of neatness.

Now as far as planning meals and cooking, that I had it down pat and excelled at doubling recipes to freeze one for an upcoming meal, yet laundry and keeping things picked up could have used improvement.

Celebrate what you do well and let the rest go – that is the older and wiser Felice’s advice!

A synopsis of my education component to the homeschool do-over:

What would I do regarding my home education? I would not duplicate private or public schools at home. As a certified teacher, it was natural to teach in a way that was comfortable, but that did not work, and I soon learned my kids did not like school at all. OUR SCHOOL IMPROVED once I learned to relax and incorporate outdoor activities, field trips, and unit studies. I would use unit studies all the way until middle school and perhaps a bit longer, yet always supplement with math or reading if the children needed additional work.

I would ignore many of the curriculum suggestions of my friends. Everyone’s kids are different, and I know I used some books that didn’t fit our family’s needs. Another thing, I would use textbooks sparingly in the younger years and focus on learning based on my children’s interests. I am too uptight to unschool but I would have done more child lead learning. My children love the outdoors, and I live in a temperate place that allows us to utilize the outdoors all year. The children were very interested in nature, astronomy, and oceanography. W took many trips to the beach, nature centers and had access to a conservatory for star gazing. I wish I had capitalized on the educational aspect of those situations, using them as a basis for deeper and further study. There is so much that you can do in order to facilitate learning with field trips.

I tried to turn some of our vacations into education. My children said I could turn any vacation into school. But can you imagine if we were doing this in reverse? Using field trips as part of our homeschool curriculum? The kids would be very happy to go on home-school field trips and turn that into school during the school year. I was never comfortable with unschooling, but I was very impressed with those who could keep up with that teaching method. As the children became older, I ended up panicking more, especially for those that were college bound. I may be panic is too strong of a word. However, I feel like I did my children a disservice. My second oldest was very interested in writing, and I feel that that was one good thing I did and that I encouraged her to write, and we published three novels. You can check out the Truth Seekers Mystery Series on our website for more information.

However, the focus should have been on trades for my oldest son and the thirdborn. Both ended up working in the vocational field, some area of construction. It helps to own a construction company, but only one son works for us. I insisted that both sons do college-bound work.  It was stressful, not necessarily that he couldn’t accomplish the work but that he hated it! If I could do it over again, my two boys would have a vocational-focused education in various fields. My son taught himself mechanics and has rebuilt or repaired many cars, trucks, and trailers, although his job is in construction with my husband. 

Three of my children attended college. Two graduated Magnum Cum Laude and one Cum Laude, and one with a master’s degree. The youngest, an earlier reader, did not have a problem with school, yet I wish we had focused more on mathematics with him because English and writing can easily. Sometimes we focus on our children’s strengths and forget to shore up their weaknesses, but don’t worry!

After his freshman year of college, he asked me to order him a math curriculum for the summer to brush up on some math skills he felt he didn’t know. That, my friends, is one of the fruits of homeschooling and encouraging your children to learn! So even if we mess up, those motivated kids will keep us in line! I mean, seriously, whose kid asks for a math curriculum to do during the summer when they are on a break in college? What a blessing, right?

My youngest three children played sports in high school, and then the youngest two in college; we had some major scheduling that needed to take place to fit all the practice times. This sometimes threw our homeschool out of balance, but it was a great incentive for the children to complete their schoolwork. It was not a given that they had to play. It was school first, then sports. (Share the story of a teammate whose dad benched him.)

One other thing I wish I had done more college prep work regarding testing. Yes, I know many colleges say they will not focus on test results, but studying for testing when you are college-bound teaches you skills needed for analytical thinking, taking the test, and making decisions. I believe that it is important, and you can check out collegeprepgenius.com. Jean Burk is a Podcaster on this network and provides a wonderful curriculum for college prep at a reasonable cost. I know I don’t get paid to say this. My children benefited from her class, and I am forever grateful that I found her in time for the youngest two. 

The two youngest also participated in dual enrollment. College and high school credits combined. This was a highly successful time for my children.

In subsequent podcasts, I will address some of the comments from parents who participated in a survey where we asked about their homeschool do-over ideas. Here is a synopsis. 

  1. Do not duplicate school at home.
  2. Be more relaxed and flexible.
  3. Prayed more, seek God’s wisdom.
  4. Relationship within the family rather than the 3 R’s
  5. Focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic (math) rather than other things.
  6. Consider unschooling, child lead learning, and adding field trips.
  7. Some specific curriculums they enjoyed or did not enjoy.
  8. Avoiding the “all in one” curriculums. 
  9. Stop using a curriculum that isn’t working for the child.
  10. Not starting school so early delay learning with some kids.
  11. Identifying learning issues and remediation.
  12. Adopting the idea of “there is plenty of time for that” and running out of time!
  13. Not buy into the idea of the day (one has a farm and would rather have a smaller property and added travel).
  14. Combine subjects within the family.
  15. Don’t stress the house over the kids.
  16. And so many more comments!

Others discussed keeping prayer front and center of their homeschool decisions; one stated, “God’s to-do list and my to-do list are often two different things.”

Friends, we all have regrets, and in our ideal “homeschool do-over world,” we probably would do things we’d want to do differently! Please know homeschooling your children is a blessing. Build relationships, memories and spend time with the Lord. Thanks for joining me on my 500th episode! I pray a blessing on you and your family today and always.

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