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Monday, May 16, 2011

With the box comes the reality

Our homeschooling journey has taken a few twists and turns, but it was with the arrival of our big boxes that the reality of what we were going to do set in. Since our children were little, my husband and I have wanted to help them experience the world. It saddened me to think of them going to school and being away from me. But I had always thought that was the way things go. Children grow (as much as they can be considered grown at 5 years old) and go off to school. There they will spend many hours learning and then I would get them for a few hours at night before starting the bedtime routine. I didn't like the idea of seeing them for only a few hours a day that would also be taken up with homework. After much thought, we come to decision to homeschool. It seemed a natural fit: I loved being home with them and we were already schooling them at home. So why not just call a spade a spade and homeschool them?

And that is what we did. Ever since they were babies we taught them. We took hikes, played counting games, sang the alphabet song, and traveled. They were learning so much and we had not even cracked open a textbook; not that preschoolers need textbooks to learn. But as the "official" school year approached, more and more people asked us where my daughter would be going. I began to doubt my ability to teach her. Voices of other people crept in saying that "school was what was done," and, "how would she be socialized," and, "didn't I want to send her to school so I could have a break?" I knew in my heart that I could homeschool her and she would do wonderfully, but I still doubted. We looked into schools and my daughter started to ask to go to school. She was 5 at the time and we found a wonderful private school for her to go to.

Her first day of school is one I will always remember. She was so excited with her new backpack, which was almost as big as she was. I looked around and thought "OK not homeschooling but it's not so bad." And for a few months it was great. But then the reality set in. So much time was devoted to repetition and busy work. My daughter was already asking for more things to do but the teacher needed to make sure that the whole class was ready to move on before starting new subjects. My daughter loves science, but the class didn't cover that. I found we were still homeschooling to make up for the things she was missing out on.

After much thought again, we decided that after the school year ended we would homeschool. The situation was not so dire that we felt we had to pull her out, but we knew that we wanted her home. It meant a lot to make that decision, but then the work began. I started to research curriculum and Sonlight was one of the first ones I saw. I loved all the books. I had worked at a bookstore while pregnant with my daughter and my love of reading and being surrounded by all the books since her beginning has made my daughter a lover of books. We read every night and love to drag blankets outside to read under our big tree.

But even when I decided this was the curriculum for us, it still took me a while to order. The day my package arrived was very exciting. We came home from dinner at my parent's to find two big boxes. My two kids knew what it was right away and begged to open them. Even if they had been able to wait till morning I don't think I would have. It was so amazing to pull out all these books and realize that I would be the one guiding my children through them. Some of my old favorites were there along with some that I am sure will become new favorites. My son and daughter were so excited for the science kits. My son wanted to start "science school" the next day.

But as we unpacked the boxes it seemed like something was missing. I realized that the Instructor's Guide was not in the boxes. The next day I called and the matter was sorted out. I was told that I would receive it in a few days. Looking back this was such a blessing. I was drawn to the Sonlight curriculum for its wonderful schedules and guides to help the parents. If I had gotten my Instructor's Guide the first night I would have sat up looking over the weeks and months to come trying to figure out our schedule. But as it was, all I had in the beginning were the books. I was able to really look at the books as books, not as how they fit into the schedule. I could see the course of our year and all the places we would go together.

Now our box day is done, but with the books on the shelf we will have "shelf day" every morning. I feel so blessed to have found this wonderful program. It has given me confidence that I will be able to teach my children. But more importantly, it has shown me that the education I will give them will be enriching to them as people.

Thank you
Elizabeth W.
mom to Autumn (6) and Dash (4)

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