Little words like if & it

Silas is learning to read.  I have been watching this process, slow & steady, for some time.  It is a beautiful thing & I feel so lucky to be a part of it.  Much like the other firsts in my children’s lives, the first smile, first word, first step, I am watching a flower bloom & it is amazing.

Homeschool has always been the plan for Silas & the girls.  We do not know for how long we will teach them at home.  We will begin their education at home, & when that is no longer the best fit, we will do something else.  I just have no need or desire to send them off into the wide wide world at this young age.

Since we made the decision to homeschool, I have alternated between feeling excited & feeling terrified.

Some days I feel totally confident in my ability to teach my children.  I studied the many teaching philosophies & instructional methods, I researched the curricula,  my home is brimming with age appropriate educational manipulatives.  Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschool, Unit Studies…I am prepared to cater to my kids’ educational needs, what ever those needs might be.

And some days, I am sure that I will ruin them.  I am not a teacher.  No one has given me an official document stating that I am properly qualified to educate these little minds.  I have no idea what I am doing.  Maybe this is a job best left to the professionals.

Now, I know that much of my insecurity comes from outside of myself.  Simply because what we are doing is different.  To stray from the well-worn & familiar path, it feels a little scary.  If I send them to school, it becomes someone else’s responsibility to teach them.  If I keep them at home, well, it is all on me.  A little scary.

But I have been teaching these kids since the day they showed up in this world.  I helped them to learn walking & talking.  I taught them why it is good to be kind & it is bad to be mean.  I showed them how to get the food into their mouths, the socks on their feet & the poo into the potty.  Why should it be that on a certain day in August of their fifth year, I am suddenly unqualified to continue teaching them?

I have had it in my mind that if I can teach Silas to read, I will feel much more confident in my role of teacher & more certain that our decision to homeschool was the right one.  Why this particular skill?  I suppose it is because I have never taught anyone to read.  And learning to read is a big deal.  I still so clearly remember the wonder that I felt as a child when I acquired this skill & the world suddenly came to life with written words.

I began a simple preschool curriculum with Silas when he was three years old.  I wanted to get an idea of just what our homeschool would be look like, a feel for how Silas & I would work together.  We did letters & numbers & lots of seasonal crafts.   I thought that I needed a plan, a schedule, time lines & goals.  I quickly learned that I was over-thinking the whole thing.  Teaching my child is actually pretty easy!

This past year, we have begun including the girls in our school work.  Again, I worried over how to teach children of different ages.  Needless worry.  The girls had already picked up so much from just hanging around Silas, that when they began doing seat work they knew much more than I even realized.  I feel that they will probably be working at his level within the next year.

These days we have a pretty good routine.  Not a schedule, just a routine.  We are taking a phonics approach to reading.  We do a fifteen to twenty-minute reading lesson, two or three times a week.  We have a math lesson once or twice a week, simple adding & subtraction.  I mix in animal science, anatomy, or geography once a week.

Sounds a lot more strict & structured than it actually is.  I have to say, if it were up to Silas, we would do book work every day.  He is thirsty for it, wants to know everything about everything…right now.  But I am trying to keep it light & fun & make sure we do plenty of hands on, crafty stuff & field trips.  They are so young after all.

This is so much more fun than I expected.  While babyhood is a beautiful time, it can also be very monotonous.  I have joked that I often felt like  an employee when they were all little babes.  It feels really good to begin this new chapter with my kids, to work with them instead of working for them.

Our classroom…

A few weeks ago, Silas had an Aha moment during our reading lesson.  He suddenly understood how to sound out the words.  It clicked.  I saw it happen.  I saw the light in his eyes.  I will never forget that moment.  I am so lucky to have been present for that magical moment.  And I realized that day that, yes, I can teach my kids.  Of course I can.  They are so eager & willing to learn.  Being their teacher is not a chore or a challenge, it is just a very natural part of being their mother.

We are just beginning down this path.  How long is the path?  Where will it take us?  Will it always be this easy or feel this right?  I don’t hopefully know.  But at this moment in time, it is the right path for us.


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