Here's an article I wrote for "Pennsylvania Homeschoolers". Enjoy!
I have had many moms marvel and ask how I home school with four children, and one of them is brand new. (Anna Claire joined us on February 28, 2009. This explains the absence of an article four months ago.) For those who have accomplished this, it may seem simple enough. However, for those of us trying it for the first time, it may appear daunting.
I trusted. A lot. I trusted myself. I trusted our children. I trusted our family and friends. Approaching our next "step" with the mind set that "everything will work out" helped the transition go so smoothly for us, it was almost effortless. Looking back, I realize that I actually had numerous things in place beforehand that supported us as we grew. Three of those that stand out for me now are: curriculum, consistency and co-op.
We used a curriculum this year. http://www.movingbeyondthepage.com/ It was just what we needed. I could open a book, know what materials we needed, know what books from the library would enhance the lesson, and have questions ready to help my children stretch their thoughts when my brain was too tired to think. For math we tried Miquon. This is something that Jesse and his brother used when they were learning at home. We all loved it! David started his Sing, Spell, Read & Write journey. Sarah finished this last year. Now Leah cannot wait to begin. In all, school was a pile of books. I learned that although curriculums are not my favorite thing, (I like to be a bit more creative.) they are the best thing for me to teach certain subject areas, and for me to use when I am pregnant and have a newborn.
Two days after Anna was born, we were doing school on my bed. I had prepared for everyone to take a long break, but they craved the consistency of our days. This is something I have always done. We find a rhythm that works for us and stick with it. I have seen our children thrive on this consistency. They know what to expect, usually. With the unexpectedness of a new sibling, our regularity became even more important. This year we began our days with math, followed by reading, curriculum work in the middle and ended with music. Our days of the week also held a pattern: Sarah's piano lesson on Monday while David, Leah and I did lots of school in the car, parking lot and grass, (One of my favorite memories is Anna on a blanket surrounded by buttercups. Leah building a fairy house. David reading me a story about a Bike Hike. Sarah inside practicing Brahm's Lullaby.) Tuesday co-op, school on Wednesday, more school and dance classes for Thursday, Friday relax. It all worked well for us.
Tuesday's co-op was the highlight of our learning with a new baby that was preceded by a tired, pregnant mama. There was friendship, fellowship and learning, oh! so much learning. Whenever a worry entered my mind about what we may not be accomplishing, I remembered our co-op. David and Sarah were content and thriving in their classes. Leah loved my preschool class. Anna was always along for the ride. (You can see a picture of myself and part of Anna here: www.hsobx.org/2009/05/hsobx-spring-finale.html )
In writing this, I realized another "C" we've had all along, connectedness. I believe that leaning at home brings us closer together as a family. We are a stronger unit. Adding a new member strengthens that bond. In a twisted way that I still marvel at, homeschooling helped us welcome Anna and welcoming Anna helped us home school.
Our home school journey will never be the same. Both daunting and exciting, "everything worked out". Welcome to learning at home with the four C's and four little ones!