This post is long overdue. Since announcing at the start of fall that we planned to try homeschooling the boys, I’ve meant to post an update regarding the what/why/how of it all but, you know, life and all that. So, here we are; we’re 5 months into homeschooling, and I’m quickly learning that it’s just that – a journey, rather than a sprint to the finish line of the school year. It’s been equal parts great and challenging, but I’ll get into all of that.
Why We Decided to Homeschool
When Spencer started Kinder during the pandemic, he endured several different types of school in a very short amount of time. He started virtual Kinder, which we quickly discovered didn’t work for him. Then, we moved him to the local Catholic school (we’re not Catholic, by the way), he had virtual Catholic school, then had modified in-person school. Around this time, we began to suspect Spence had dyslexia because he was consistently flipping letters and tracking backwards while reading. Top that off with mandatory mask-wear, and he was unable to see how words were shaped, spoken, and formed, so he struggled to learn proper diction.
Fast forward to 1st Grade in South Korea. Spence was doing okay, but he was on the low end of the grade, and he was getting more frustrated by the day. Reading was anxiety-ridden, and when I’d try to tackle homework with him at night, we were both left in tears. We hired the most amazing tutor (we love you, Traci!), and she worked with him one-on-one without a mask to kick that knee-jerk fear with reading, all whilst getting him up to grade level. But the gauntlet was thrown. Did we want to continue this process with tutoring as a stop-gap, or did we want to try something new…again? Obviously, we chose the latter.
How We Started Homeschooling
I knew that whatever we chose for Spencer, we’d choose for Porter. While Spencer was, admittedly, struggling, Porter was thriving through it all and actually above grade level in all his subjects. I kicked the idea of homeschooling around with our good friends in Hawaii a few times, but I didn’t commit, and I actually registered the kids for the new school year, especially when we learned Ryan would be deploying again. About a week before school started though, I had a terrible gut feeling about it and, after a quick discussion with Ryan, I pulled the boys that day.
So, we were in it. I decided to dive in full-force and went ahead and bought a hodge-podge of curriculum for their first year of homeschool. It went something like this:
- English/Language Arts – The Good and the Beautiful
- Handwriting – The Good and the Beautiful
- Math – Math-U-See
- Science – Apologia
- History – NotGrass History
I figured we’d see what worked for us and what didn’t, then we’d adjust from there, and that’s how we’ve been operating for the past five months.
How We Feel 5 Months Into Homeschooling
If I boil it down to its simplest form, we have good days, and we have bad days. I’m learning that my kids learn at completely different paces, and that’s okay. I’m also learning that I love the flexibility of homeschooling. We went to Hawaii without having to beg for days off school. Frankly, they probably learned more during than trip about air travel than they would’ve learned in a science class. There are definitely days that I feel like I’m failing them, but then I watch the lightbulb go off in one of their eyes, and I know we’re doing something right.
We abandoned our science curriculum. It was honestly over their heads and just too much for them. We’re kind of learning science topics as their interest peaks for certain things. For example, we’re really into learning about poisonous lakes and what can calcify birds in Lake Natron (don’t ask). Altogether though, we’re enjoying this semblance of freedom.
Where Will We Go From Here?
As of right now, I’m planning to continue homeschooling the boys once we move this summer. We’ve loved having Mieke in her Korean preschool because it’s been such a good social and learning outlet for her. She’s thriving. If all goes according to plan though, I’ll likely start loosely “homeschooling” her next year, too. She’ll be four, so she won’t need traditional learning, but we’ll do a lot of fun play learning for her. But, who knows?
Altogether, 5 months into homeschooling, and I can honestly say it’s been the best of times (and the worst of times). I love how much well-rounded their life education seems. They’re learning to cook. They run with me. Sometimes school is on the beach. Sometimes at a desk. Sometimes it’s calculating prices that the 3/8 market. It all depends on the day, and I like that a lot. Overall though, I’m glad we chose to do this, and watching Spencer succeed and actually meet his grade level and love reading has been such an absolute joy!