We've never used the public school system in the traditional way, but we've experienced most other kinds of education -- from conventional Catholic schools to Catholic boarding school to parent co-op umbrella schools, online education, to college sponsored high school programs... but good old-fashioned home schooling is our favorite way to learn. The most important advantages toward soul-forming and character-building are possible in such a small and personal forum and the bonding we get to do in the home-schooling lifestyle has lifelong benefits. But there are some other pretty cool perks we get to enjoy being a home schooling family. This is one of my favorites:
School Al Fresco!
|William with "Fum."|
|Patty, the Momma Cat, taking the opportunity to do some schooling with one of her youngins: "Boxes,"she says to her daughter,Millie. "Boxes, bins, bags... They are for sitting. If you see one, assume it is for sitting in."|
1) We choose our own school hours
These days, we start our days around 9 a.m., after a leisurely breakfast and some visiting together. Then, because there is little wasted time in a home school (no change of classes, no teacher's "accounting," no unnecessary review, no "twaddle") it takes us less than four hours to complete the body of our work every day, so most of our afternoon is free to do projects. (See below...)
2) We choose our own holidays
If it's a particularly lovely day, we can take the day off and tack it on to the end of our school year, or choose to take off whole weeks that we make up in summer when it's too hot to play outside anyway. We determine how long our Christmas and Easter breaks will be and can take off all Holy Days of Obligation with ease.
3) We can "go" to school in our jammies if we want
Though we seldom dress down, actually, we have the option and sometimes have "jammie days." For the most part, however, we require the boys to wear "button down" shirts and the girls to wear skirts during school hours because we find that more formal attire sets the tone of a more disciplined day, a sharper mind.
4) But we don't have to go anywhere!
No getting up at the crack of dawn and getting everyone dressed, lunchboxes packed, hair combed, fingernails cleaned, loaded in the car, and driven to school. We've done this routine -- and we do not miss it!
5) Unless we want to!
Field trips. Any time we want, anywhere we want: nature walks, museum trips, zoo days... You name it, with very little preparation, and no signed permission slips, we can just pick up and go.
6) Our children become best friends, teachers, and helpmates to one another
Home schooled children learn to cooperate among many different age groups (particularly in large families that have so many age groups), and due to God's goodness, people don't have "litters," so families organize in a natural "pecking order," where the younger sibs learn from the older and the older care for and help teach the younger -- a beautiful arrangement -- and one that truly thrives best in a home school environment.
The best learning of all, we believe, is real-life hands-on experience -- and we have ample opportunity for those right here at home -- doing things that have real meaning for the kids. We have more time and incentive than most to teach the kids to cook and clean, true life skills. But they also learn from more off-the-wall projects like: The Summer Kitchen Project (2014), rebuilding the dining room in the old Byers house in 2008The Summer Kitchen Project was a gift from the kids for my birthday, but the dining room rebuild was more a parent request thing, like the yearly garden plotting, planning, and planting. But the kids come up with most of their own pastimes -- and, given free reign and having no inhibitions or limiting expectations (which are often the burdens of conventional schooling), these guys generate some pretty crazy ideas -- like these videos: Boredom, the Silent Killer. (2015) or Everything at Once (2013).They also routinely write music for voice and piano together -- and make up duets, like this one:
The girls are like: " Mommy! That one's terrible! At least let us do it again!" But, I like this version, because it was recorded on April 1st and the little gem at the end there cracks me up.... Seriously, girls. How can I not preserve that for posterity?
But, anyway... I digress. See what I mean about projects? Not only do the children benefit and help the family with some of them, but they've learned to entertain themselves -- and they entertain Dan and me, too! Entertainment 24/7/365. Definitely a perk for home school parents. We never know what to expect! And you know I'm bound to share it all. So stay tuned. There's a lot of buzz going on around here with spring and summer projects in the making!