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What do you wish you'd done more of (or less of) in the earlier years?


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For those of you who've been there, what are your regrets? Either curricula-related, or big picture related...

 

I've been doing a lot of pondering lately, because something feels missing...We're very relaxed here, lots of play, crafts, and usually 3+ hours a day of reading (together and her own reading.) Which I do think is ideal for this age. Plus DD has ADHD so I can only do "real" schooling in short bursts followed by lots of outdoor time and other play, and I do a lot of extra work on behavior modification and mindfulness. But I wonder if in the limited time we do have I'm focusing on the right things.

 

So if you had it to do over again, what would you change? Or what are you glad you focused on?

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For those of you who've been there, what are your regrets? Either curricula-related, or big picture related...

 

I've been doing a lot of pondering lately, because something feels missing...We're very relaxed here, lots of play, crafts, and usually 3+ hours a day of reading (together and her own reading.) Which I do think is ideal for this age. Plus DD has ADHD so I can only do "real" schooling in short bursts followed by lots of outdoor time and other play, and I do a lot of extra work on behavior modification and mindfulness. But I wonder if in the limited time we do have I'm focusing on the right things.

 

So if you had it to do over again, what would you change? Or what are you glad you focused on?

Even more reading.  More song stuff when they were little, because they would dance and jump around and it was fun.

 

Less stressing out over everything.  Less comparison to others. Getting my thyroid checked earlier (!), as I took a lot of naps in those days, but they enjoyed the playtime together while I was napping.  It all worked out very well.   

We used Sonlight and Abeka.  I mostly just read the Sonlight books, and the Abeka was good for reinforcement of everything.  No regrets. 

 

What we did right:  Short school days, and a lot of time off and loads of trips.  Me reading to them through lunch.  They enjoyed that. 

 

That's what matters the most.  They now talk about homeschooling their own children some day. 

Edited by TranquilMind
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I wish I had worked harder on making science more fun for them.  I'm just so not a math-science person, and we focused on literature, history, and the arts.  We also focused a lot on the big picture of life and priorities and making life an adventure, and they really all have such a good handle on that.  But, I still feel that I did a disservice to them by not pushing the sciences more.  I tried.  But now that they are all in their 20's, they find that they are fascinated with the sciences and maybe would have enjoyed a career in it, but think it's too late now.

 

I'm not sure how I could have done it differently, given we do not live near any co-ops, etc.  Maybe I just didn't sound excited enough about it when teaching it!

 

 

 

 

 

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I really don't have any regrets about how we have homeschooled. My only real regret is not accepting that our Aspie was not going to progress into adulthood in a typical,way. If I could go back and change things it would have been to focus on developing some sort of small business built around his obsessions instead of spending $$ on college.

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More hugs, more eye contact, more paying attention to the children I had in front of me at that moment instead of worrying so much about the future, more books read together, more rabbit trails, more appreciation for life, more appreciation for family, more life skills work, and more willingness to work outside the box.  Finally, more cherishing of childhood as a special, precious, fleeting time with all its ups and downs, stresses and joys, and that this will only last a short time.

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Too much expectations of nearly perfect behavior - as a response to the extremely permissive parenting around me, I tried very hard to instill "first time obedience" in my kids without the proper context of understanding their moods, personalities, sensory issues, allergies, foods, needs etc. once I took all of that into consideration and relaxed everything improved.

 

Another regret was expecting too high expectations of their friends. This caused me to completely back off a few friendships for them that now in retrospect would have been fine for them. And realizing there are different levels of friendships.

 

Otherwise, my kids had a childhood just like what you are describing and I have almost no regrets as far as their childhood or education. Lots of free time, pretend play, read-aloud, time outdoors, not full of structures activities to busy their day up, lots of access to art supplies etc.

 

One thing I do regret is trying out CM style language arts. Knowing my husband is dyslexic and seeing early on that both kids were a lot like him, I wish I had stuck with the built in review and consistency of Abeka or BJU. But hindsight is always 20/20. No homeschool mom can get it all perfect!

 

Now they are 12.5 and 14. they love each other, they love me, they love books, they are interesting kids and full of great memories that we all share. it would NOT be the same If I had Shutttled them off to classes and sports all day, all year long. I'm all for kids finding an interest but I really really think free afternoons at least 3 days per week are necessary to discover and live out childhood.

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Not much comes to mind. I could have worried less. But that's hindsight. Wouldn't have occurred to me then. I think I could have been more patient, too. 

But as far as curriculum choices, or time choices, things like that? Nothing I would have changed.

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I was unschooly. I wanted unschooly. It was terrible for Ds. I really wish I would have realized that it was about him, given him more structure, and started the lessons he wanted when he so much craved them.

 

I wish that I had read aloud more. I wish I had done music earlier - at least theory. I wish we would have started doing more art stuff. Of course Ds wasn't asking for it, he didn't know who the famous people were! Unschooling is wonderful, but I needed to teach my kid how he thought.

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I really don't have any regrets about how we have homeschooled. My only real regret is not accepting that our Aspie was not going to progress into adulthood in a typical,way. If I could go back and change things it would have been to focus on developing some sort of small business built around his obsessions instead of spending $$ on college.

Thanks for this. I certainly can't predict the future, but remembering your words may be helpful as mine grows up (he definitely has both an entrepreneurial spirit and obsessions).

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Well, I can't think of anything that I could or would do differently, but pondering your question makes me miss my squishy six year olds. So, my one piece of advice is to just squish your Little Squishy now, because she won't be six always. Adore her. The rest will follow.

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We had a great time during the younger grades, but I would have changed a few things. I wish that I would have done more "fun" things with my oldest while she was young (such as Five in a Row). I pushed more academics when she was little. It worked for her, but now wish we would have done more "cutesy" Kindergarten things. On the other hand, I wished I would have had more structure with my younger one and that we could have found a long-term consistent curriculum to use. Other than that, I loved the early elementary years and we had lots of outside time, read-alouds, and manipulatives to play with.

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For those of you who've been there, what are your regrets? Either curricula-related, or big picture related...

 

I've been doing a lot of pondering lately, because something feels missing...We're very relaxed here, lots of play, crafts, and usually 3+ hours a day of reading (together and her own reading.) Which I do think is ideal for this age. Plus DD has ADHD so I can only do "real" schooling in short bursts followed by lots of outdoor time and other play, and I do a lot of extra work on behavior modification and mindfulness. But I wonder if in the limited time we do have I'm focusing on the right things.

 

So if you had it to do over again, what would you change? Or what are you glad you focused on?

If I had to do it all over again I would *worry less* and *play/read more* and snuggle more while they still want to. :D

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With the age difference I got to do things a little differently with the youngest.  I do more narrations (didn't know about them when the older two were younger,) outlining and more math review.  We used Math Reflex so she knows her facts instantly which makes math easier as she progresses.  My oldest knew them, but not instantly so it made it harder for her because she's not a "mathy" kid. Middle has been a math whiz her whole life so it didn't matter for her because she mastered them on her own.

My older kids have thanked me for Latin and Greek Roots, reading aloud, and Cothran's formal logic series.

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I felt I gave both my kids a really solid foundation academically and I gave them lots of social time and opportunities to play. I do regret that I pushed my son too hard in elementary. He has lds and I was so worried about it that I overdid it. I also wish I'd done more crafty stuff with him. He really enjoyed that kind of stuff, but I had trouble making time for it because I pushed the academics too hard.

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I'm happy we had a core focus on reading and math early on. All other subjects were fun or not fun but of little consequence until about 3rd.

 

Other things I am glad we did:

- lots of outdoor adventures (hikes, parks, lakes and streams, sea shore, back yard, etc)

- lots of mini trips, getting to know where we live better

- develop a culture of books (all over the house, audiobooks in car, shelves in their rooms, and reading, reading, reading, reading)

- develop a culture of math (games, riddles, puzzles, videos, and lots of mathematical play as a family)

- maximized time with extended family (even though the closest is 5 hours away)

- listened to them and their stories

 

ETA: I have three with ADHD, and I think you are right to work on the non-academic skills with them early on - ADHD isn't a simple issue of attention, but a whole gambit of executive function and self regulation issues, and the earlier you begin a positive and constructive building of skills, tools, and supports the better. (And ETA: spelling)

Edited by Targhee
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For those of you who've been there, what are your regrets? Either curricula-related, or big picture related...

 

I've been doing a lot of pondering lately, because something feels missing...We're very relaxed here, lots of play, crafts, and usually 3+ hours a day of reading (together and her own reading.) Which I do think is ideal for this age. Plus DD has ADHD so I can only do "real" schooling in short bursts followed by lots of outdoor time and other play, and I do a lot of extra work on behavior modification and mindfulness. But I wonder if in the limited time we do have I'm focusing on the right things.

 

So if you had it to do over again, what would you change? Or what are you glad you focused on?

 

It sounds like you have a great handle on things.  You are missing angst and misery.  They are over-rated.  Carry on and enjoy your child.

 

 

I started my oldest child out with Spell to Write and Read.  That was a mistake.  He is dyslexic and, while he learned phonics, he didn't learn to read sponateously through learning to spell.  If I could go back, I would start him at 7yo with Charlotte Mason style word building lessons at his pace.  Before 7yo, I would spend every minute I could squeeze from his attention span building visual processing skills, playing phonics GAMES instead of doing phonics LESSONS.

 

 

It sounds like your dd is already reading for herself.  That is wonderful!  Just keep going with that.  Let writing be oral narrations of the books she reads, copywork, letters to people that she dictates to you and then she copies in her own handwriting, and drawing and labeling her drawings.

 

ADHD kids can focus when it's something they are highly interested in.  So anytime you can frame a writing lesson in terms of something she would like to do, it will be a happy thing. 

 

 

Math - 15min a day is fine.  Use manipulates.  Make it meaningful.  Play games to reinforce facts & concepts.

 

I wouldn't worry about content subjects right now.  It sounds like she is likely covering more than enough through reading.  If you feel uneasy about it, categorize her books into biographies, nature stories, etc...

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 Probably read aloud more *consistently* much earlier (sounds like you've got that covered), get more comfortable with driving further and taking advantage of opportunities, not gotten down when not fitting in with local homeschoolers, not stressed as much over how things were going, trusted my instincts more, teach the kids I have and not try to do what would have worked really well for kid-me, avoided religious curricula and do my own thing more. So so much. But no one is perfect and a lot of these insights come from straight-up experience. 

 

Maybe you can go into a section at the library that you guys haven't explored yet and take out a few books from there? My girls and I used to do that as a kind-of game to see if we could find a new gem or topic or idea to explore. Just an idea to shake things up, if you're looking to do that. It sounds like you both are having a great time. :)

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This is all so helpful and interesting to read, thank you. I think one of my many takeaways will be to try to worry less, and enjoy more. I stay up late nights worrying about her challenges, whether I'm doing the right things for her. Because she's such a bright kid, she does have so much potential and (since I'm a worrier in general) I always feel scared that I'm not equipped by myself to help her reach it. And because next year in our state she'd be in 2nd grade (she has a fall birthday, but that's still considered 2nd) this "playing school" we're doing is all starting to feel on the verge of being more serious. I have these ideas in my head of what I want to impart to her, academically and otherwise, and because of everything else going on it's not even close to happening. Another lesson: Don't try to put my own notions of who she's meant to be, and how schooling is meant to be, on this girl who is her own wonderful, creative person, and absorbing the world in a different way.

 

Please keep the thoughts coming, there's so much wisdom here.

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With my oldest I obsessed about doing things "right".  Every workbook page completed, every task checked, doing things because he was 'that age' instead of 'that ability'.  We never knew if we would be home or not the next year so it was always half-preparing him to go back to school.

 

With my youngest, I am much more relaxed.  I focus on doing what's right *for him* not what other kids are doing (free writing?  yeah, so not happening this year!) I don't care if anything is written down or if he does any worksheets.  I actively schedule art, science, music, and P.E., because these things are just as important as the '3Rs', if not more so, and I know if I don't give them a special place, I will forget that.  But, I don't feel the need to check any box except filling in what we did that day. 

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Anna's Mom (OP) --

 

I am wondering... as you've pondered this a bit longer now, what do you think is missing?

 

My oldest is (only) eleven, and we've homeschooled all three girls from the beginning. From time to time, I also have that sense of "something's missing." It comes and goes over the months and years. Usually, my husband and I talk it out, and lately we've been adding in the girls to this ongoing conversation. Once we figure out what it is that we need and find ways (if possible) to make those things happen, we get on with it and that nagging feeling settles down for a while.

 

It comes back, though. ;) After several years of this, I'm beginning to realize that the sense of "something's missing" might not (completely or permanently) go away as long as we're homeschooling. This might just be how some of us process the experience. Perhaps a part of this questioning is because, if we ourselves went to school as children, we are (unconsciously?) comparing that experience to what we perceive our child's experience to be, and these very different realities don't line up. I've tried to become comfortable with and thankful for the differences!

 

On the other hand, that sense of "something's missing" has, for me at least, often been a good thing to pay attention to, because perhaps something really is missing in our lives. This spring, I have been thinking about middle school, looming on the horizon -- next year will be 6th and 4th grades for us, so our oldest is going into these middle years (6th-8th).

 

It feels like it's time for a change. So, we've discussed it as a family. Yes, we can see it, something is missing here, too. For us, it's time for a more physically active, hands-on, hard work, serving others, how-to-do-things kind of life. Seatwork we have had in droves! 

 

So we have been talking about this, praying about it, asking God for wisdom, and deciding what we do next. As your daughter grows from year to year, it will be increasingly possible to include her in figuring it all out. That is interesting in itself, I can tell you! Children do have ideas about their own educations. I asked my children to make lists of what they'd like the next three years to look like, and I was handed pages and pages, LOL.

 

I think that you are wise to ask these questions now, when your daughter is young. To me it means that your heart is open, listening, and willing to adjust to what is best for your child. May you find the wisdom you are seeking.

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I've been thinking this over since yesterday, and my conclusion is "nothing."

The truth is, part of me wishes I had been more strictly WTM, while another part of me wishes I had been more unschooly.

I partly wish I had been more laid back, and I partly wish I had been more regimented.

I would like to have been more creative, but I would like to have been more traditional.

Maybe they should have had more freedom. Maybe they should have had less.

 

In the end, nothing is perfect. Everything has its pros and cons.  There are no ways to accurately predict success or failure.  I've always done my best in the moment, and that's all there ever is.

 

 

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Anna's Mom (OP) --

 

I am wondering... as you've pondered this a bit longer now, what do you think is missing?

 

You know, I don't have concrete answers. But it's this sense that I want DD to learn to be more of a deep thinker, more well-rounded, more appreciative of beautiful things, and to have a better understanding of the world around her. It's a lot to expect from a 6yo, obviously, but I want to start fostering it so that it develops as she grows. And there's no curriculum for that...

 

We do have a lot of discussions based off questions she asks and rabbit trails, she's becoming a good conversationalist. And I know the reading we do is probably the best way of expanding her world, but I feel like our reading isn't exactly purpose-ful. The books she's drawn to are all fantasy (I've tried non-fiction and realistic fiction, but my childhood favorites have all fallen flat.) And I just don't know that I can impart much wisdom through basic 2nd-3rd grade level fantasy...With her short attention span and everything else going on, I haven't even started to address history (which you'd think, given how much she loves stories, would be easy. But she won't sit still for those types of books.) And I want to teach her generosity, kindness, goodness, an understanding of how lucky she is compared to much of the world, but nothing I've done for that has seemed to sink in yet.

 

So yes, trying to foster deep thinking, help her better with soft skills, and give a better appreciation and understanding of the world. And I know she's young and all that is slow to develop, but it's probably the main reason I'm homeschooling in the first place, and I feel like I don't even know how to start.

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Want to know what my 6 yr olds are doing? About an hour to an hour and a half of academics. They spend the rest of their days playing. I believe those deep critical thinking skills you want are developed through play and imagination.

 

We play lots of family games, go hiking, and just enjoy eachother's company.

 

I don't start history until 3rd grade.

 

We enjoy lots of reading for bedtime stories. :)

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Want to know what my 6 yr olds are doing? About an hour to an hour and a half of academics. They spend the rest of their days playing. I believe those deep critical thinking skills you want are developed through play and imagination.

 

We play lots of family games, go hiking, and just enjoy each other's company.

 

I don't start history until 3rd grade.

 

We enjoy lots of reading for bedtime stories. :)

 

I'm going to go with Eight on this one, primarily because age is such a factor in what we can expect from our children. Six is... six, you know?

 

I will say this, though -- Never underestimate what she is actually absorbing. I mean, you see what you see, but how can you know what is shaping her? With some kids, you just pour it in and pour it in... and it seems like you're pouring into a sieve. I used to tutor these kids, so I know, LOL! But in reality, they are often internalizing more than we realize.

 

One of the pip-squeak 5th grade kids I used to tutor years ago, graduated from high school last June. He sent me a lovely, hand-written thank you note, everything spelled correctly, everything capitalized and punctuated properly, all his grammar straight, and -- even if all of that had not been the case, I would have been amazed by this -- a lovely spirit of thankfulness expressed by this young man. I laughed and cried to read it, just remembering how it had seemed like pouring into a sieve at the time. You really don't know sometimes, what they are getting out of it. So I just say, pour and pray.

 

When my girls were six, I was struck again and again with thankfulness to able to homeschool. By being homeschooled, the girls had so much more time to play, eat well, sleep when they needed it, snuggle me, learn to get along with each other, get hugs when they felt the need, listen to audiobooks, visit grandparents, craft, create, do watercolors or play-dough (very popular pastimes!), explore nature, visit the living history farm, go to the beach (no crowds), listen to me read aloud (at least an hour a day), and have a bit of "school" thrown in. I don't even remember what we did for school, LOL, but I know we had good days (we still do)!

 

I would not expect a six year old to choose most of our Read Alouds, nor to have the maturity and discernment to know a worthy book from twaddle. So you might want to choose what you read together, whether she seems to "like" the book or not. Or, you might want to alternate who chooses what gets read aloud. If you both dislike a book after a few chapters, feel free to quit and begin another book.

 

Teach generosity by being generous, patience by being patient, kindness by being kind. Teach beauty by having a beautiful inner spirit, spending time in beautiful places, creating beauty in your surroundings (indoors and outdoors), and listening to and singing beautiful music.

 

As for teaching her to feel lucky, I'd wait on that. My girls are 9, 9, and 11 (just turned), and we are only just now very tentatively starting to explore that whole reality of world poverty, hunger, slavery, injustice, oppression, compassion, and what it means participate in the mission of God to extend love and justice to others. And we're only doing this now because our church is sort of forcing the issue by bringing up these realities (which is okay, just sort of raw). So as parents, we want to engage with our girls at home. At six, though, I think I'd rather focus on helping a child to feel completely loved, completely safe, and completely accepted as she is. Feeling fortunate is something plenty of adults haven't mastered! HTH.

Edited by Sahamamama
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You know, I don't have concrete answers. But it's this sense that I want DD to learn to be more of a deep thinker, more well-rounded, more appreciative of beautiful things, and to have a better understanding of the world around her. It's a lot to expect from a 6yo, obviously, but I want to start fostering it so that it develops as she grows. And there's no curriculum for that...

 

We do have a lot of discussions based off questions she asks and rabbit trails, she's becoming a good conversationalist. And I know the reading we do is probably the best way of expanding her world, but I feel like our reading isn't exactly purpose-ful. The books she's drawn to are all fantasy (I've tried non-fiction and realistic fiction, but my childhood favorites have all fallen flat.) And I just don't know that I can impart much wisdom through basic 2nd-3rd grade level fantasy...With her short attention span and everything else going on, I haven't even started to address history (which you'd think, given how much she loves stories, would be easy. But she won't sit still for those types of books.) And I want to teach her generosity, kindness, goodness, an understanding of how lucky she is compared to much of the world, but nothing I've done for that has seemed to sink in yet.

 

So yes, trying to foster deep thinking, help her better with soft skills, and give a better appreciation and understanding of the world. And I know she's young and all that is slow to develop, but it's probably the main reason I'm homeschooling in the first place, and I feel like I don't even know how to start.

 

We do a lot of working backwards in our house.  Just because I want my child to be able to do something at 18 doesn't mean that he's doomed if by 6 he isn't grasping it.  Everything is baby steps.  Think of running.  When a child starts to run, they must first learn to roll over and need to develop their ab muscles.  Once they learn to roll, they learn to sit and steady themselves.  Once they learn to sit, they learn to move, either by crawling or creeping or standing.  Once they learn to stand, they can learn to step.  Once they learn to step they can learn to walk, and once they learn to walk they can learn to run.   I cannot start to run if I'm taught the first point is walking.  My core, my balance, and my sense of movement will be forgotten in working my leg muscles.

This is when working backwards comes in handy.  What skills does my child need to be X at age 18?  What skills does he need to be able to meet THOSE skills?  And so on, until I meet my child where he is today.  Then I have a plan.

 

A child who does not sit for history?  Make history non-sitting.  I have our plan for Ancients worked out.  It starts with setting up a tent and telling stories around a campfire.  We'll dig in the dirt to discover clues about our past and visit murals and graffiti while talking about the Lascaux caves.  We'll search for wild edibles and make a spear while learning about nomads becoming farmers.  We'll do school on clay slates and make picture code languages while learning about Mesopotamia.  The books, the longer stories I'll learn and retell, the picture books will be looked at.  Short or exciting tales like Tut And Cat or Jason and The Argonauts will become our afternoon read-alouds.  I'm a firm believer in immersing a child as much as possible all at the same time: tell, read, yes, but give something for hands to do, eyes to see, noses to smell or tongues to taste while doing so.  Help her understand her world by understanding her own history and path, too.

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Honestly, I think trying to back step from 18 to 6 is a pretty impossible task. Most kids do not develop perfectly linearly with easy predictability. It is a whole lot easier to look at the child before you and create realistic goals for the next 6-12 months when they are 6. Creating bigger picture goals is easier once they start hitting middle school/high school because learning becomes far less fluid and building basic skills oriented.

 

I am sure glad I grew into teaching and parenting my young adults 1yr at a time than teaching and parenting toward adulthood from primary grades.

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The books she's drawn to are all fantasy (I've tried non-fiction and realistic fiction, but my childhood favorites have all fallen flat.) And I just don't know that I can impart much wisdom through basic 2nd-3rd grade level fantasy...

You might be surprised.

 

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So if you had it to do over again, what would you change? Or what are you glad you focused on?

 

What I'm glad we focused on:

 

- solid foundation in reading, writing and math

- taking music lessons on a continuous basis, gradually working up to a high level, but not worrying about competitions or exams

- providing exposure to a lot of different physical activities, focusing on fun and skill development rather than competition

 

 

What I would change:

 

- focus on building knowledge in one foreign language to the point of mastery like we did with one instrument. We dabbled too much in too many different ones. Exposure to the many languages they did won't have been a waste of time, but neglecting to focus on one for many years means they don't have the fluency in one language that they could have had by now. 

 

 

One thing that becomes apparent when looking at these kinds of questions is that everyone has to make choices about where they spend their time and energies with the children they actually have. Not every dream of a parent is going to come to fruition with a child, no matter how hard you may have tried. We can only do your best to provide some basic tools for learning and living, and remember that this is only the start of our children's lives. There are many years after they leave home where they will be learning and growing.

Edited by wintermom
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I Love this thread, thank you...

 

I am very much still in the early years and swing back and forth between confidence and nervousness.. But when I think about it everything that may not have truly worked still brought us progress... Most importantly I have been learning how to teach and parent better, which is important to me... Every kid and every parent is so different that we all need to make our own ways, I think..

 

My only regret so far is ever getting a TV... It is something I am trying to rectify now, but it is hard going backwards after they've been exposed to it...

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My only regret so far is ever getting a TV... It is something I am trying to rectify now, but it is hard going backwards after they've been exposed to it... 

 
 

:laugh: And here I was thinking how cool it has been to have our little classroom TV. We watch all our Latin lessons right at the table. Super nice.

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lifeoftheparty, your comment is really hitting home for me. In a kind of sad-making, but profound way.

 

For me, I wanted so badly to give him that classical hands on type education. I pieced together our curriculum from all kinds of neat companies. Lots of crafts and hands on projects... a book and activities for poetry, a book and activities for paragraph writing, etc. I wanted everything to be grand and flowing together, not just textbooks and workbooks.

However, that is all wrong for my adhd kid. He doesn't care about academics. He doesn't care about crafts. He wanted to get done with school as quickly as possible so he could go outside and/or build things and/or watch science documentaries on Netflix... He just does not care at all about all the neat projects, crafts, activities, etc.

 

I've always chosen curricula I think will be fun for DD, gentle, slow and hands-on. When I was a kid I would've adored SOTW with all the busywork-ish crafts, I would've been fascinated by Miquon worksheets, obsessed with science kits and Kiwi Crate boxes...And all of these still would be so fun for me to teach and learn with her! So all along I've had this ideal in my head, I've been trying to create this full but gentle, creative experience, hoping she'd just absorb a love of learning, because darn-it, I work so hard to make our days fun! (I even developed a fairy tale around RS lessons, to get her to have fun with them!) But yes, the truth is that she would so much rather get it all done (or never get it done) and spend the day playing with her Legos and animals, or making costumes out of construction paper...What's punching at me now is that she may never enjoy academic learning. And I need to find a way to be okay with that.

 

I think maybe I need to take a look at the commonalities of what's actually engaging her, make those into full experiences and let the rest just be tasks to cross off a checklist. Bravewriter, at least the fairy tale unit and the lifestyle pieces--we've expanded on all of it--has been so enriching for her, and she now says she wants to be a writer. :) This from a girl who used to say she hated writing...She loves read alouds, and I'm starting to find her reading more and more on her own when I'm not looking. Nature study, Private Eye play, and Tinman Press workbooks are a hit...And anything to do with building/creating/loose parts, as long as she can turn it into pretend play. Maybe for now I just need to focus on the things that seem to fulfill her, along with all our natural learning-through-rabbit-trails, and then stop trying to make math/handwriting/science/everything-else-I-want-to-teach fun, because it might never be for her. It's like a parent can't make their child grow up to be a doctor, or even attend college, no matter how much they might dream of it, if that's not in the child's interests or nature.

 

This has been a gradual understanding I've come to over the years...She was always so darned bright, knew shapes and colors at 16 months, could subitize at an early two, taught herself to read before she was three, she seemed to love learning so much and I had all these naive images in my head of what our school days might look like and who she might grow up to be...and then the difficulties came. And I've slowly come to terms with it all, accepting there's a chance college might not be in her future...and I'd thought I was okay with it. But somehow the idea that she might never want to read classics, study art and music and languages and sciences, and, and, and...it's hard to accept.

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Anna's mom, I really advise against projecting any attitude a 6 yo has toward school on to the future older child. Six is six. My almost 27 yos hated sitting still for school when he was six. His idea of coloring was a single crayon line swiped across the page. He is now a successful chemE.

 

I am of the mindset that K-2 are the primary grades. My focus at those ages is different than 3rd. I use k2 to learn how to read, penmanship, basic math and number sense, and simple mechanics and writing skills (recognizing simple rules like sentences begin with capital letters And end with punctuation marks, questions, commands, statements,etc.)

 

It isn't until 3rd grade That I start a focus on content subjects. 3rd and 4th I have pretty low expectations bc I view those yrs as learning how to read to learn. By middle school, my kids are functioning on a completely different level and by high school they are fully invested in self-educating themselves bc it is their life and future.

 

But at 6, all they want to do is play. My current 6 yr old is exactly the same way. The 7 before her were the exact same way.

 

So, my 6 yr old plays. She is incredibly bright. No way her attitude reflects anything more than the fact that she is 6 and wants to play! :)

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Thank you, 8, and I hear you...I think what's gotten me is that she just shows no interest or enjoyment in the curricula that so many other kids here, and in the hs families we know, seem to love. And getting her to do anything at all is such a struggle most days. (I do everything I should, I think, set a visible schedule with many short pieces and breaks, and getting her to start or continue with anything in order to get to the next break is sometimes torturous.) I guess I compare with other kids, and with myself at that age (which I know I shouldn't ever do), and that's what makes me project into the future. I don't know how much of it is her wild, fun-loving, super-creative, super-stubborn personality, how much ADHD, how much just being young...a little of each, I think. But you're right, there's no way to know what will happen when the "young" isn't a factor anymore.

 

ETA: The other piece is her low frustration tolerance, she just isn't willing to persevere long enough to work through any challenges, which can make any progress so painful and slow. It can take us all day going back and forth, complete with tears, just to finish a 15-20 minute math lesson.

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I have never been able to give my kids breaks and hope to return more focused.  ;)  It is easier to just sit down and get it over with from their perspective.  Want to know my 6 yr old's routine?

 

Read aloud to me 4 pages.  (She is reading from simple chapter books like Nate the Great, but 4 pages is her attention threshold.  She knows it is 4 pages and so will sit willing to do it, but she knows at the end she is DONE.  ;) )

 

Horizons math  (about 15 minutes.  She is in Horizons 1 b/c she finished the K books quickly.  But we never do more than 10-15 minutes of math.)

 

copywork (I create about 5 lines for her to read to me and then copy.  We talk about the capital letters and why they are there and the ending punctuation marks)

 

a read aloud (done at bed time)

 

That is K in our house.  We sit down and do one thing right after another until she is done and can go play.  She never did any pre-school.  She started the yr not even knowing all the letters of the alphabet.  She could write her name and knew everyone in the family's first letter in their name, and could write mom and dad. She learned everything else quickly at the beginning of the yr. It just doesn't stress me out.  I think the focus on having to be able to do x,y,z by 5 or 6 or somehow they are being "disenfranchised" (a real description given to not teaching kids to read before K) is not based on reality. Learning is just not so linear. Creative play is learning.  Using their imagination is building cognitive skills.  Academics is only a small fraction of mental development, especially when they are little.

 

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I wish I had worked harder on making science more fun for them. I'm just so not a math-science person, and we focused on literature, history, and the arts. We also focused a lot on the big picture of life and priorities and making life an adventure, and they really all have such a good handle on that. But, I still feel that I did a disservice to them by not pushing the sciences more. I tried. But now that they are all in their 20's, they find that they are fascinated with the sciences and maybe would have enjoyed a career in it, but think it's too late now.

 

I'm not sure how I could have done it differently, given we do not live near any co-ops, etc. Maybe I just didn't sound excited enough about it when teaching it!

I am very like you. Love history, literature, art, handicrafts, cooking , and music. We read science books, write in our science journal and watch science videos but I am not great at doing hands on science or nature journaling. I just had twins and decided to sign them up for a homeschool science class that takes place at a local park. They'll get the hands on science and nature time. I'll back it up at home with books and shows on the topic and get them to do a journal page.

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Want to know what my 6 yr olds are doing? About an hour to an hour and a half of academics. They spend the rest of their days playing. I believe those deep critical thinking skills you want are developed through play and imagination.

 

We play lots of family games, go hiking, and just enjoy eachother's company.

 

I don't start history until 3rd grade.

 

We enjoy lots of reading for bedtime stories. :)

We did this for 1st. We had very light "Bible history" in 1st. In 2nd we did a light overview of early US history from exploration through the 1812. It was mainly good books and hand on crafts. This year for 3rd we are up to a 3 hour school day. One hour of that's independent.

 

"Light school" is very much a consequence of me being pregnant during 1st, having a newborn in 2nd, being pregnant in 3rd with twins, and now the newborn twins are home, so we'll continue to keep things "light". Next year my goal for dd in 4th is 2 hours independent work and 2 hours with mom. I will have an hour one in one with my 1st grader for math & Lang and he'll tag along for a 30-60 min with dd's stuff but not all.

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For me, I wanted so badly to give him that classical hands on type education. I pieced together our curriculum from all kinds of neat companies. Lots of crafts and hands on projects... a book and activities for poetry, a book and activities for paragraph writing, etc. I wanted everything to be grand and flowing together, not just textbooks and workbooks.

 

However, that is all wrong for my adhd kid. He doesn't care about academics. He doesn't care about crafts. He wanted to get done with school as quickly as possible so he could go outside and/or build things and/or watch science documentaries on Netflix... He just does not care at all about all the neat projects, crafts, activities, etc. He wants a list of everything he needs to do, so he can get if done, and move on to "more important" things... and I lectured and lectured and lectured about how he *needs* to focus more on these projects, to better his education, because *that* is what will make him successful, yadda yadda...

.

This is so my son! He's all about get the basics done and then doing his own learning by building, exiting outside, watching science shows, and asking me to do science expertiments or inventing his own.

 

I had him start k at 6 and really glad I did.

 

K looked very different with him then with dd. But that's ok!

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My dd would've done better with more explicit science starting by about 4th grade.  We did a lot of fun, gentle science and spent a lot of time in nature up until about 7th grade.  In high school she commented that she learns better by learning at a developmentally appropriate level (she used the example of a textbook), letting those ideas percolate for a few years while working through the rest of the science cycle, then coming back to the concepts at a higher level.  

 

Interestingly, I was just ruminating today on how I learned English grammar vs. how my kids learned English grammar.  I did not have much explicit instruction at an early age; apparently the "discover grammar rules through language use" was trendy at school when I was there.  During the explicit grammar instruction during later years I felt lost.  I think perhaps this is how older dd felt about science.

 

As a side note, my kids did FLL and progressed through the WTM suggestions on grammar (since I don't have a clue about the subject I felt a need to be very careful in teaching them and have SWB hold my hand, so to speak).  Now that they are older they are finding the English sections of the ACT easy.

 

I DO think that other kids will do a great job learning science in a more casual way.  Dd and I need to have things explained explicitly over a period of years.

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With the trouble being focus, I'm betting the ADHD diagnosis is playing a role in your day to day difficulties with schooling. I don't have an ADHD child, so I can't offer specifics on how to deal with your day to make it better for both of you.

But I will say that I don't think it is at all unusual to have doubts about "what's missing", particularly if you have plenty of opportunity to compare your homeschool to others. You got to stop doing that. No other family has your child, or has you as the teacher. It's apples to oranges, or at the very least one variety of apple to another variety. 

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I wish I hadn't switched curriculum as much as we did.  I think this especially hurt my oldest with math.  So many times I wish we'd just stuck with the first math program we used, which would have been Saxon.  We tried Rightstart, followed by Singapore, before finally switching to MUS.  I'm now convinced any of these programs would have been fine had we just stuck with it!  I think looking for the "right" program caused more harm than sticking with a slightly imperfect program.  I always thought if we had the right program, math would be fun & exciting.  In the end it's still just math and takes hard work to understand the concepts.

 

 

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Well, the first for us would have been to never even send them to public school at all.  (I pulled my three from ps in 3rd and 6th grades)

 

I think I would have been pretty much an unschooler until around 6th grade, and gradually become more planned as we neared graduation/college.  When my girls were preschool aged we naturally did a ton of discovery style learning, and then I had to go and send them away to school.  

 

I'm very glad that with my younger two we did very informal science until high school.  They both have a much stronger love for the sciences than my oldest, who went from science-loving to science-hating after slogging through various curricula.  

 

I wish I had been able to give my oldest a better math foundation.  By the time I brought her home, she was struggling and never really gained back her confidence.  

Edited by The Girls' Mom
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Glad I did: Private music lessons. Even though they don't have time for weekly lessons anymore, they make music for fun. Both did weekly lessons from about 4th grade to 9th. The older one did once or twice a month in 10th and 11th as well, because she loved seeing her flute teacher. Younger one tried lessons around 2nd grade but wasn't really ready, so not sure about recommending this with your 6 year old.

 

Wish I did: Figured out how to teach them foreign languages. We never got this right. Instead, it had to be done at the CC junior and senior year.

 

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My boys are 6 grades apart, so I got a "do over." :) They are also very different kids - they have needed different materials and different approaches.

 

I used different materials for my younger one because I had already tried everything out on my older one. :laugh:  Really though, with my older I often switched things up because I didn't know if something else was better until I'd tried it. He was truly the guinea pig. With my younger, I have a much better sense of the my options and was able to start things off in the direction that has worked well for him, so I can say I'm glad I've been consistent. He's done the same core math program for four math levels, for example, while my older one had switched between 3 of them. Luckily I figured it out with my oldest, and he did a consistent progression through middle school with math, science, history, and literature.

 

Another thing I'm glad I've done is have a consistent school schedule. Now, we don't start at the same time every day or do things in the right order, but we keep "school hours" and generally get everything planned done every day. The kids know we don't take breaks just because we don't feel like doing schoolwork.

 

My oldest was not ready for, or asking for, music, art, or languages. My younger one isn't asking for it but I am pushing Spanish. My goal is to keep him challenged with a language since he is already accelerated in everything else.

 

I don't really have any regrets. Oh wait, I wish I had had my older one start school a year later. We ended up repeating 4th, but it was wasted time for him in PS when he was so far behind. I do wish I had been able to find spelling that worked for him. I've about given up as I just don't think his brain is receptive to it. I'm very proud of how well he's doing, and he is such a pleasure to teach.

 

 

 

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