My Favorite Job : Unschooling Momma

I’ve introduced you to part of my outdoor life: my chickens and dogs… But one of the biggest roles I play right now is MOM. And to me, that naturally includes being their guide through learning. I have three wonderful children : 6, 4 and 1. They are so very different, sometimes I don’t believe they are all mine.

My first child is strong-willed, brave and stubborn. He doesn’t want to do something just because “I said so.” He will gladly do something fun that you suggest and he would rather do something with others than alone. So for a momma that is a little introverted and really enjoys quiet alone time, we were in for some bumps in the road!

We had our first child and I was trying to get my undergraduate degree and my husband was working loads. Then we found out we were expecting another! We were so blessed that my mother-in-law was available to watch J while I was in class but by the time he was about to turn 2 I put him in a mother’s day out to help my mother-in-law out. After a few months, he was kicked out for biting the teacher.

He’s 2 years old! Don’t a lot of 2 year olds bite for a time and then learn not to? And it was a church affiliated program. I had a 2 year old and a new baby and I just sat in the office with J’s two teachers and cried. And they said they couldn’t do anything for me.

The exact same thing happened at another preschool-type program, minus the biting. They just said J wasn’t a “good fit.” I knew we had to shift the way we were doing things. 

My hubby and I had very different school experiences; me loving school and him trying to get out of there. When I was a little girl I had a desk in my room and I would spend hours playing school. I was the teacher and I would give my dolls lessons. When I first started considering homeschooling I immediately envisioned a room in our house as a school room and I would sit our children down and lecture them for hours. Right, because that sounds appealing to absolutely no one. Not even me. 

I started pouring over books about home schooling and quickly realized there was not just one way to home school. There are as many types of home schooling as there are families doing home schooling. I knew this would allow me the flexibility to teach my son as he needed to be taught. With patience, kindness, room to process what he’s learning, and plenty of time to get messy.

He didn’t thrive in the preschool environment because he was being told to sit for 5 minutes, then stand, then go paint, then go sit again. He was not given freedom to explore and play how he wanted. I couldn’t just recreate that at home and expect him to succeed. 

So through lots of trial and way more error we have found a system that works for us. I’ve come to realize that he learns when his sister learns. I started to sing Lil her ABCs while she brushed her teeth. It helped give her a definite time to brush and I would do a funny little dance. And tada, teeth clean! We started to have them brush their teeth together and he would just laugh and act like he wasn’t paying attention. But a few weeks later I heard him quietly singing those ABCs! Lil learned how to spell her name so that she could sign her artwork. So J learned how to spell her name. 

Front porch painting

We also have the space that I envisioned. We have a table with bookshelves all around and a microscope and globe. We have crayons and paint and foam letters. And sometimes the kids will come to the table with me and we will go through a few pages in a workbook. Some days we gather on the front porch and paint together  Some days we just play outside in the dirt and sand. And all these days are full of learning. Because outside we all get stung by red wasps and we learn that honey bees lose their stingers when they sting but wasps will keep theirs and they will sting over and over again. Or we find a caterpillar and look up what that caterpillar will look like when it turns into a butterfly.

Front porch painting

All this has helped create a lovely environment in my home. Because I learned that struggle and fighting did not end in learning. When I come alongside my children and am interested and engaged with them, then we all learn and gain a little lovely.


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