When I think of a "typical" homeschooling family (if there is such a thing) I picture a mom with 4 or 5 children, sitting around the dining room table most of the day, working quietly together. The afternoon is spent baking cookies together, before preparing dinner for the hard-working Papa that will be home at 5:00. Evenings are spent reading books and playing games, before Family Devotions. Then, children in bed by 8:00, so that Papa and Mama can have some "quiet time" together. While I love the sound of such a life, that has not exactly been what homeschooling has looked like for the Big D Family.
1990 ... we moved to an old farm, and I started teaching my children at home when the oldest 6 were just 7, 5, 4, 2, 2, 1. (Now they are all young adults.) The first semester, I tried to run things just like a little school house. Everything was scheduled. We started the school day at 9:00, with everyone around the dining table, and Mama (in her denim jumper) at the chalkboard. We had P.E. at 10:15, and lunch at 12:00. We had a program for every subject, including P.E. and Music.
By Christmas ... I was totally burned out. Who did I think I was, trying to "do school" at home with a first grader, a kindergartner, a preschooler, 2 toddlers, and a baby??? (Oh ... yea ... I also started homeschooling when I was still waitressing at night, and getting home at 1:00 a.m.) I was exhausted and didn't know how I was going to keep it up.
Second semester, I decided to "just wing it". I thought, "I'll be an unschooler. I'll just let learning happen." Guess what? Not much learning took place, I'm afraid.
1991 ... by the Fall of our 2nd year of homeschooling, I figured out that there needed to be a balance. Homeschooling didn't really have to look like "school"; but, education did need to take place. We quickly got into a better and smoother mode of educating our children at home. We had structured workbooks and textbooks for math and language arts, while we did a lot of hands-on stuff for science, with library books for history.
1993 ... another baby (#7) ... another move ... a Homeschooling Business that kept Papa & Mama pretty busy (supervising 25+ homeschooled high schoolers as part of a Private Extension School). Papa continued to teach full-time, too, while I ran the business from home. I also taught a homeschooling class for younger kids, with about 4 other families, that met weekly at our house for cooking, writing, drama, and art. Super Busy, but Super Fun!
1996 ... another baby (#8) ... another move ... still working the Homeschooling Business. Always trying new things with the kids. More science and art, while sticking to our tried and true textbooks and workbooks for math and language arts. The older kids took a few classes at the local school down the block from our new house this year.
1997 ... Papa was still teaching full-time. Papa was going to grad school out-of-town every other weekend. I was working 2 home businesses. (I added Creative Memories Scrapbooking Consultant to my life.) But, homeschooling was still taking place. Our children were still learning.
1998 ... we had a serious car accident. I could hardly do anything for 6 months (no laundry, no dishes, no sweeping, no vacuuming). The children stepped up and took over most of the household duties. But, homeschooling continued to happen, while I sat in my rocking chair. My children continued to learn. We grew closer as a family. Jeremiah played in the band at the local elementary school (and had the same band teacher that I'd had 25 years before, when I lived in another town). Gregg & Cassie sang in the choir and did sports at the local Jr. High.
1999 ... another move for our family. Papa moved 150 miles away, while I stayed behind with the children to sell the house. Papa came home on the weekends. The house was on the market for 9 months. I was pregnant those same 9 months. I was homeschooling 8 children, and dealing with my most difficult pregnancy yet. But, my children continued to learn. We continued to grow as a family.
2000 ... we moved to a blueberry farm. We had a very sick newborn (#9) for several months. We all learned how to farm. Papa worked the farm, while still teaching school full-time. The bigger kids learned to work the farm. Schooling still happened. My children continued to learn. We focused our history lessons on Christian biographies. Our children began to dream about where they could go, and what they could do for the Lord.
2002 ... another newborn (#10) ... a major financial set-back ... another move ... I had to find a part-time job. I worked at the Christian Bookstore; but, we kept on with our homeschooling.
2004 ... I worked part-time as I created and directed a school for homeschoolers, while continuing to homeschool 5 kids and take care of a toddler and a baby. We also had 2 children at the local community college, and 1 serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
2005 - 2008 ... I worked almost full-time. My "school for homeschoolers" grew to 185 students and 20 staff members. But, I continued to teach my children at home (with supplemental classes at our school). Papa worked full-time at our school, and we rotated our hours at home and at work, so that we could continue being our children's primary teachers at home.
2008 ... we brought 3 children home from Africa ... Mama stopped working ... we had our most difficult year of homeschooling yet, as we worked through our new children's educational challenges. But, our children kept learning. We kept growing closer as a family.
... we're moving again
... to a quiet island
... with only 6 children
... Mama is not working outside the home.
... Mama is not having another baby.
... Mama is not bringing more children home from Africa.
... Mama is EXCITED about our homeschooling this year.
... We are doing something NEW.
... a whole NEW plan
... a whole NEW curriculum
... a whole NEW homeschooling lifestyle