The Joy of Homeschooling


I’m sharing with you today “The Joy of Homeschooling.” These are based on my own experiences over the years homeschooling my daughter.

I was partly “homeschooled” by my mom. She believed that I should learn Chinese. However, in my country during that time, we had to choose either going to an English school or Chinese school full-time. The term “homeschool” never appeared where I grew up. One day we had a new neighbor, a family from Taiwan. The mom was a former school teacher from Taiwan. We got to know our new neighbor, and she introduced my mom to a correspondence school in Taiwan. My mom enrolled me in the program. So, instead of going to a full-time Chinese school to study all the different subjects, my mom homeschooled me (all my with going to school) until she found an evening Chinese school where she sent me later. It wasn’t easy, as she worked during the day. However, with her love and enthusiasm, I tried my very best to finish my school work during the day, and then after dinner and weekends to study in another “school.”

When my daughter was born, a friend asked me this question, “Will you be sending your daughter to the academy?” My answer was, “I haven’t had any plans, but at present my plan is to homeschool my daughter.” As she was growing up, I kept getting similar questions from families and relatives. Some would tell me that since I only had one child, it would be good to send her to the academy so she would be able to socialize. The words went in one ear and out the other! Before my daughter was born, my husband and I had already planned that we would homeschool as long as we could.

Homeschooling is not an easy task whether there’s only one child or more than one. It takes time to prepare and plan, budget, and meet deadlines. The journey can be long or short. Lots of time is put in, and sometimes there may be tears and frustration. There’s one thing that I especially like: the bonding between my child and me. There are other things that I am thankful for. Here are some tips I’ve gained through personal experience that I would like to share. 

Planning/Time – It takes time to plan. Set aside some time before the end of the school year to start planning for the new school year. You may want to do unit studies, plan field trips or holidays. It is good to have in mind what curriculum you want to use or if you want a change. It also depends on the grade of your child. Will there be any other activities like swim, soccer, music or classes? Friends can be of great help. I am thankful to have wonderful friends who share ideas and experiences with certain books/curriculum. Thanks in part to the SDA Homeschool Families blog and Facebook group, I have learned a lot along the way. Talk with your EF if you are with a chartered homeschool. Attend a homeschool convention or fair to get some ideas and see what’s out there. There are lots of offers out there. It is okay to say “no” so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many things. However, it is good to have an open mind. Plan out how you want your schedule to be like. Each child works differently. Don’t compare or compete with another child. In some families, there may be a special needs child who might need extra time. If you are working, you might want to use the time in the evening or afternoon to teach, or maybe the weekends. During the day, your child can work on the things that he/she can do. At the end, it is up to you to make the decision best suit you. Finances can be a burden for some. It is also good to set up financial planning in the family. Books can be expensive. Some lessons like music or tutoring can come to quite a bit. Work out what is needed or can wait. Set priorities. And, don’t forget to PRAY and ask the Lord to guide you.

Support – It is not easy to do it alone. Join a support group (many thanks to the homeschool site on Facebook) so you will not be alone. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are many times I have not been sure of some curriculum or have had some questions in my mind. I have asked my friends, and you will find there are many who are willing to share with you their journey of homeschooling. Don’t let doubt conquer you.

Curriculum – Choose what suits you best. Unit studies, publishers, classical/literature based, etc. I like looking through different publishers to see what is out there. I enjoy reading comments by others (but keep an open mind). Some may enjoy certain publishers that others do not. Don’t let this pressure or stress you. Take time to look through. If you have friends who have the curriculum, you might want to ask if you can look through so you have an idea on what to expect. Book fairs or conventions are a good place to go. Check out the websites of different programs and curriculums.

Socialization – When I was homeschooling my daughter, I had friends or relatives coming to me saying that my child needed socialization. I think my child has lots of socialization — play groups, field trips, Sabbath School, church, VBS, Pathfinders/Adventures, gatherings, moms’ network… If some of this is not available, you might want to plan a play group, tea party, book club, or outing. Sometimes, time may be a problem, but if you can plan ahead of time and let your friends know, it can be worked out. It doesn’t have to be in your home (so you won’t have to spend time cleaning and preparing). You can have it at the park if weather permits. There are some areas where there are co-ops. That’s another way to start off. Participate in some volunteer work if your child is old enough, or take them along when you go for volunteer work.

Field Trips – You can plan your own or join other homeschool groups. I always look out for what is out there to offer. Many places like museums, theme parks, or companies have what is called “homeschool day” or educational field trips. They set aside a day of the week for homeschoolers. Some may be free. There are some where you might need to get a small group or pay a small fee. I love looking for free homeschool days. Plan ahead so that you can add that as a family outing. Implement it as a field trip so when the child comes home, he/she can write a report on their trip and what they have learned. Places like the missions, zoos, or science museum can be part of their studies in science or social studies. The beach is a good place if there are tide pools, or the aquarium where they learn about marine life. Check out county fairs too. Some county fairs have projects where your child can participate, like arts or crafts.

Chores – In between studies, add some chores like housekeeping, laundry, and cooking. If the child is old enough to help, have them help out. Add that to home economics. Have the child learn to prepare the meal for the family (even if it does not taste good, praise him/her for the work done and give positive input so there can be improvement) or teach them to bake. Have them help you when you are cooking or baking. The younger one can help with washing the fruits or vegetables, setting the dinner table, or sorting laundry. Take them grocery shopping and add math into it, like calculating how much items are. Use math for baking too.

Hobbies – In between studies, get into some hobbies. It can be cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, crafts, etc. Gardening is fun. When they see the flowers blooming, or the tomatoes and vegetables are ready for harvest, there is joy. Some places do have homeschool fairs where the kids get to exhibit their crafts or sell them. If there’s plentiful of harvest, you can share it with other families, or have the children earn their own pocket money by selling to friends/families.

Finally, being a homeschool parent is not easy. It can be difficult and stressful. Some of us may teaching our children at home, in Sabbath School, and/or in Pathfinders/Adventurers. But, trust in the Lord and pray. Toward the end of each school year, I look back and am thankful. I may not be perfect or complete everything I wanted or planned to do for the year. However, I find a great REWARD and JOY as each school year comes to the end. Here are some of things I see, hear, or experience:

  1. Bonding with my child
  2. Watching her/him grow and learn
  3. Learning together with her/him
  4. Lots of laughter
  5. Some failures (like when the cake did not turn out as we wanted, the seed that we put in the ground never sprouted, field trips has to be cancelled due to a cold/flu or rain or something pops up the last minute, school work did not meet the deadline, etc.)
  6. Family time together
  7. No rushing early in the morning for the school bus
  8. Hearing the child say, “I get to do my school work in my pajamas,” or “Yay, no schoolwork today. We are going to the museum!”
  9. I get some “off” days during weekdays

Time Management — When Emergencies Arise

Time flies! Another year has drawn to a close and we are now in 2017. In another few months, some of us will be finishing our school year.

How many of you remember making New Year resolutions at the beginning of the year and resolving to keep them? Well, we may sigh or groan looking back at it — or maybe smiles of victory?

New Year resolutions are good in the sense that they help us in setting our goals about what we’re doing in our lives, our plans, our awareness of where we are going, and what we are intending to do about all of it. All of these require time, a good management of time. I don’t profess to know much, but I will share with you my own experiences.

The year 2016 has been a challenging year for me. I thank God that no matter what happened, I felt the presence of God and I was able to find time to spend with Him each day. During the beginning of the year and before the start of the school year, I prayed to God to help me to plan wisely. As my daughter moved to the next grade, there were more things to do, and besides music lessons she also joined the swim team and started taking Spanish class once a week.

As I was working on my plan and setting priorities, I was reminded in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cared for you.” Some of us have many responsibilities, or children in different grades, or kids who require special attention. Before we know it, the day has come to an end and there are still lots of things to accomplish. We are tired out and stressed. We wish there were more hours in a day. In Psalm 55:22 it says, “Cast all your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you, he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” And, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Clinging onto God’s promises, I try to take each day at a time.

Working on a plan is not easy. There is a lot to think about, and other tasks to tackle besides teaching and cooking. When working on my plan for last year, I reminded myself that I had to prepare for some adjustments or emergencies. Everything was working well and going pretty smoothly. Just as we started the new school year in September, I found myself in a situation where I had to reschedule my plan. One of the family members had to undergo major surgery. This meant that I would need extra time driving back and forth to the hospital. We were thankful that we were able to stay in the hospital room, so I had my daughter bring her homework there. Some things had to be delayed until a later time. It did work out, though.

For almost a whole month, I was not able to follow the plan that I originally had, but we made sure those things that needed to be completed in time were  accomplished. Each night before I went to bed, I planned out my schedule for the next day. During that time I had to take each day at a time. At times, I had to call up a friend to help me out with driving my daughter. Sometimes in situations like this, we may have to accept help from friends, like meals, babysitting, or driving our kids to classes.

God is good. We were thankful when our routine was back to normal. I was able to go according to my plans again. I no longer had to rush for time. But then — it was cut short. I received a call, and I had to leave the country for a family emergency. I had less than 12 hours before I was heading out to the airport. I quickly sat down and planned my new schedule for the week I would be away in Asia. Things would have to change, as part of the time my daughter would be staying with a friend. I prayed for God’s guidance as I planned.

The journey would be long, and it was a last-minute flight. I calculated a total of 42 hours for my flight and transit. With a 16-hour time difference, I would surely have jetlag going and coming back. So, while waiting to board, I started to figure out the timing. I tried my best to start adjusting myself to the time in Malaysia, where I would be the next couple of days. I knew that when I came back home after a week, I might not have time to overcome jetlag. So, while trying to stay awake on the flight, I took out my notebook and started planning the things I needed to do in Malaysia. With the limited time I would be there, I had to work out a schedule for each task. I prayed to God to guide me, and continued to cling to His promises.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back home to California. I was glad that I was able to accomplished most of the things I need to do. Once home, I reshuffled my schedule back to what I had planned at the start of the year. I was thankful that I had prepared myself to be ready should emergency arises.

It can easier said than done. One may have everything planned out nicely, and then the next moment, everything just doesn’t work out. Don’t get discouraged. We all make mistakes or are subject to circumstances, but remember that God will never leave us nor forsake us.

When planning, it is good to be prepared. Time schedules may change for some days or emergencies may arise. It is always good to plan your time in such a way that if you need to make any changes, you can without getting frustrated or stressed out. Once you have it planned out, you will have sort of a basic guideline. You may not follow it 100 percent, but at least you have something to guide you.

Don’t get stressed out if your master plans do not work out. Ask God for guidance. Set some time each day for rest and quiet time with God…then go through your plan for the next day before you head to bed.

More Hours in My Day

“If only I have an extra one or two hours a day, I can get more things done.” Does this sound familiar? Homeschooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents we juggled between school work, housework, cooking, and field trips, and chauffer our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained out. The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18,            “Come unto me all who are heavy laden…” We are busy seven days a week, and so constantly on the go that sometimes we forget to spend some time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I’d like to share that have worked for us.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve or complete for the school year. For example, if your child is pre-teen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics), or if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish, more time with your love ones, strengthening your faith, or pursuing your education or financial planning?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year — music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.?

Getting Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts, or during holidays, set aside time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or school room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes helps. If your child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare tomorrow’s to-do list the night before, like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepared over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check to see when doctor/dentist appointments are scheduled, or the time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine — first thing in the morning a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship, etc.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes you may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day, or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: Do you sign up your children for various activities? You have to make sure that it is balanced so that neither the children nor yourself are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times you have to learn to say “no.” Even if you love to help, there may be times when you have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecc 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. Therefore, it is important that we plan our schedules well, and that we do not lose sight of God.

 

Time Management

TimeValerieYeoh

“If only I had an extra one or two hours a day, I could get more things done.” Does this sound familiar?  Home schooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents, we juggle between school work, housework, cooking, field trips, and chauffeuring our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained.

The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18, “Come unto me all who are heavy laden….” We are so busy seven days a week, and constantly on the go, that sometimes we forget to spend time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I like to share. It may help you as it has helped me.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve to complete the school year. For example, if your child is preteen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics); or, if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish? Time with your love ones, your faith, your education or finances?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year? Music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.

Get Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts or during holidays, set aside some time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes help. If the child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare the list of things to do the night before like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepare over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check through when the doctor/dentist appointments are due, or time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine: first thing in the morning, a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes we may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: We may tend to sign our children up for various activities. We have to make sure that we balance it up so that neither the children nor we are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times we have to learn to say “no.” We love to help, but there may be time when we have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. It is important that we plan our schedule well, and that we do not lose sight of God.