My First Week Homeschooling

(aka The Proud Mommy or aka Supermom)
by Lisa Henderson, B.S. Child Development
(I received such a great response to the daycare series that I will be continuing it. I’m taking a short break, but one will be here next week)

I decided to homeschool my eight year old daughter. After all, I’m here all day anyway, right? I run a home daycare five days a week and I’ll just add her as a fulltimer. I figured I could homeschool her without too many hitches. Her last day of school, as a third grader, was Wednesday May 26. I figured she’d want a couple of months to de-school, as the experts call it. You know, take a break and let all that “public school” stuff seep out of her, so she could learn fresh and renewed.

Why homeschooling? Heather is extremely gifted. I don’t say that with too much pride, because I know what comes with it. She’s determined, rather bossy, and questions everything everyone does regardless of who that person is (including me). In short, she’s a difficult child. She has many wonderful personality traits too, don’t get me wrong. I love her dearly and she makes me quite the proud mommy. But she puts me to the “parenting test” every day of her life. Anyway, the public school she attended was a good school, but as gifted as she is, she and I both felt her educational needs weren’t being met and she wasn’t being challenged enough.

So, homeschooling. Then I got an email from someone on a homeschooling list. He was a single dad, looking for childcare and homeschooling for his two children. Ah, how wonderful for Heather, I thought. His children were just around her age, one girl and one boy. This could work! So we arranged to meet and they started at my home daycare (now homeschool too) the same week Heather finished public school. So here we are to the title of my story. How’s that for a short intro????

So, here they all were. All three homeschoolers, two preschoolers, an afterschooler who became fulltime for the summer, and two 4 month old infants. What would I do with them all? (Did I mention yet that I’m a single mom? Or that my daycare is open 7a.m. to 7p.m.?)

Heather would not hear of deschooling. She wanted textbooks now, she wanted worksheets now, she wanted science experiments now, she wanted educational software now. This child apparently was deschooled while in public school. She never followed their boundary rules. She always did more than what work was asked of her. She always wanted to do it differently. Her projects blew away the others. Her reports, written and oral, were fabulous. She was stunted in school, and was ready to bloom.

In the first 48 hours of homeschooling, Heather read two complete (though fairly short) literary texts. To show she read Helen Keller, she wrote a puppet show script and crafted three puppets. This project, from page 1 of the book itself to the completed final draft script and the puppets, took her an hour and a half. Then she set out to read the Velveteen Rabbit. An hour later she presented me with a glittered picture of the Rabbit, with a poem (more like an epic) entailing the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. I can see myself going broke very quickly trying to keep up with this child. I can’t buy her books fast enough!

Anyway, it is all working out. I’m giving her stacks of books, workbooks, texts, and whatever else I can get my hands on inexpensively. The other two homeschoolers are a bit intimidated by her (and her WOW personality). One is very laid back and stays away from her, and prefers not to do too much schooling at all. The other one does worksheets with her, plays games with her constantly, and tolerates Heather’s outgoing personality (or shall I say aggressiveness?) fairly well.

Meanwhile, the other daycare kids have taken things in stride. They are learning new rules, like “No computer games while the homeschoolers are reading in that room.” I have found, too, that I am getting lots of help in feeding the infants, and the older kids are helping to keep the infants entertained while I cook lunch. We are all actually pretty happy. My biggest mistake the past week has been trying to be too organized about it. I think perhaps I imposed too much schedule for her, where she wants to work where, what, when, why, and how she wants. Okay, well that is what homeschooling is all about, right? Experience (of an entire week, okay so it’s not chronologically sound) has taught me that Heather will learn even when she doesn’t know she’s learning. Also, when she knows she is learning, and she directs it herself, she’ll learn much more than I could ever sit down and show her.

The moral of this story (for me anyway) is: Yes, homeschooling can work, regardless of circumstances.

Thank you to those who have supported me. To those of you that haven’t, well, nanny nanny boo boo. (How’s that for sounding like a college graduate?)

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