Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Have I Been

One of my summer classes, along with a cup of sweet tea.

I have spent the last year attending Liberty University Online AND homeschooling my three children. I take 3 classes for 8 weeks at a time, twice in a standard semester. That's a total of 6 classes in the Fall and Spring. I have even taken classes during the summer semester.

Rationally, I should be exhausted most of the time. However, I'm not. I have a week when overwhelmed from time to time. I have a day or two when I cannot focus on regular homeschool, but overall we are still on track for everything.

How is this possible?
By God and those He has placed in my life.  It is by only Him that I'm not mentally and physically overwhelmed all the time.

Support System
On days when I have papers due and our homeschool is ahead, Mrs. Sarah (another homeschooling mom who also attends LUO) will trade babysitting duties with me. She is a true God-sent-friend because I can ask her to watch the kids during appointments and on days when I need to run errands but don't want to drag the kids everywhere. I will do the same for her. We can talk about anything.  She and I will spend hours talking about life, kids, Jesus, husbands, and Army life. We are both Army wives. We share a lifestyle that is unique and that makes our friendship stronger.

My husband is a HUGE help as well. There are days when I have to finish homework and he will take care of the kids once he is off work. He helps me by proof reading my papers because I tend to think faster than I type. He also listens when I'm starting to stress. As a man, his natural tendency is to "fix" things. Many times he offers ideas and suggestions for schedule changes that I had not considered.
My kids are a help to me as well. I'm an education major. When I have an assignment that involves lesson planning or creative learning, I test it on my three children. My kids are all combinations of the different types of learners (kinesthetic, audio, visual, and a mix). They enjoy it because they are leaning and helping mom!

Daily Life
Routines are very important.  I am not the type to schedule hourly like typical schools. (See my future post about why hourly scheduling does work for me.) I am more of a right-brain thinker and I get these "creative whims."

For our homeschooling, we do a Montessori inspired approach.  I present information to the children, and then they dig deeper into the subjects they like most.  They learn all of the required materials but the passion for a deeper learning takes place based upon their interests. (I will write more about this at a later time.) 

When do I do my school work? 
Usually in the afternoons, evenings, and nights. If it is a week when I have multiple papers due, I will double up on the children's homeschooling for a couple of days then take the nicest day off that week. Then I will call Sarah for reinforcements if I am far behind. (The weather app is a favorite tool.) We placed our trampoline near the kitchen window, so I can watch the kids play while I am researching or writing.

However, the majority of the time I spend working at night. Typically, I'm in bed by midnight, occasionally as late as 2:00AM.  Of course, I am naturally a night owl. I tried waking early to do my work, but I DO NOT MORNINGS! I am not a morning person. I wake up between 7-9AM. We eat breakfast and immediately start school work. If it was a late school night, I am honest with my children, "Mom was up later than usual last night. I need a little more time to wake up and drink another cup of coffee. We are moving sign language/latin to the morning time and math to the afternoon."

How do the kids react?
Most of the time they do not notice, because I am an active part of their lives. I schedule my study times around their lives and activities. I try to work out extra play dates or outings, so that I am filling up their love banks and mommy time.  However, there are times when I say "Sorry. I can't do ______. I have homework that is due." It will bother them. My oldest reacts the worse and complains that he hates it.  I hold him and reassure him that I will make it up to him. I explain to him, that I understand how he feels. (I felt the same way when my mom started back to college when I was in the 4th grade.)  Then I discuss with him, how giving up time now will help years later. We talk about long term goals. (I want to be an online professor. So that after military retirement my husband can enter full time ministry and I can still homeschool my children.) We talk about his goal of going to a military academy or being an scientist. I explain how I am helping him meet those goals now. This provides a bridge for him to understand.

Do I get overwhelmed? 
YES-over time! But it is worth it. My sweet husband will tell me when he thinks I need time away. I have gone over night to ladies retreats or homeschool conferences...alone.  Matthew (DH) knows my heart is for my children and I love to be with them. Being away for more than one night is too much for me, but that one night recharges my battery.  When he is able, he will wake up early on a Saturday to watch the children so I can sleep in. Sometimes I simply go walk around Hobby Lobby without anyone tagging along.  I might go sit at Starbucks for while or meet a friend for dinner.

Hardest Part
The hardest part of being an education major and homeschooling was when I realized I was not teaching to meet the needs of my children.  I was using Abeka and we were struggling. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Abeka's curriculum. I recommend it to those who have children who learn the way it is presented.  Again, let me say THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ABEKA.  It simply did not meet my children's learning style.  My oldest child does not like worksheets or a lot of writing. He likes to talk and do. My daughter is a combination learner, she struggles with math concepts. My youngest is a four-year-old boy who has the nickname "Monkey" for a reason...he never stops moving or climbing!  I started looking at hands-on learning, differentiated instruction, and Montessori.  I could rewrite and change the way that I presented Abeka BUT that would mean I have workbooks that would never get used. So the realization and the change of curriculum was the hardest part of this past year. We are still getting the kinks worked out in our "official" routine.  Once that has happened, I will share how I homeschool in a Montessori inspired environment.

Would I recommend this to others?
I would have not thought I would be doing all of this, with my other obligations not mentioned, as well. However, it was the Lord leading me to go back to college. We do not have a long time left until military retirement. We have 9 years remaining. That may seem like a long time, however, it provides just enough time to be able to prepare for our final goals. If you are feeling the Lord leading you to attend college, then obey His leading and He will be your provider and will sustain you. Take it slow and do only what you KNOW you can handle.

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