Homeschooling While Going to College

This week marks the start of the homeschooling year and, I am back in college to earn my A.A in nursing. I’m going part time but the classes are difficult! After this semester, I have 2 more classes before I officially enter nursing school (that is when life will get even crazier).

On the home front, we have a 1st grader, kindergartner, preschooler and baby brother who tags along babbling at his big sisters and eating crayons!

We do traditional workbooks, but given their age and our lifestyle we are still pretty relaxed about homeschooling. I want our children to have the freedom to play and be creative for most of the day. I have seen our oldest, who was struggling with reading, really learn a lot from a class I put her in over the summer. It was the right move, because she gained the confidence she needed to start this school year off right!

As far as how I will be getting MY schoolwork done, that isn’t as easy. It comes down to the super powers mothers have to “just find a way”. You know you have it too! Whatever it takes, it gets done. My dream of becoming a nurse is still 3 years away, but if I can survive my addiction and thrive despite my mental illness, I can do anything.

The four little faces starting back at me give me all the motivation I need!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Advertisements

Can Moms of Small Children Still Follow Their Dreams?

Can moms of small children still follow their dreams?

I often hear from fellow mothers of small children that they are overwhelmed and stressed out. I nod my head in agreement, I feel ya. We are doing a lot, every day, and without much time to ourselves. Many days, we are lucky to be able to pee alone. So, it would be outrageous to suggest that we can follow our dreams, right? Right? Wrong!

We do not have to put our passions on the back-burner. We do not have to sacrifice our time with our small children either. Finding that balance is key, and it IS possible!

I am 29 years old, and I have been slowly taking college classes for a decade. I didn’t begin college in earnest until two years ago, but it has been a long journey. I have four children, ages 6 years old thru 10 months. I also choose to homeschool them, so I do not have a break during school hours. I am following my dreams of becoming a nurse, midwife, and doula professional.

If I were younger and childless, I would have gone to college full time years ago. I would have been done much faster. Instead, I have taken only two classes each semester and I took one semester off because of the birth of my fourth child. I could have gone back to school, but I wanted to spend time with him and help our family adjust to the newest member. I will enter nursing school in exactly 17 months. I’ll take night classes, so I can homeschool during the day. My husband will work during the day and watch the kids at night.

Will it be easy? No. Will I ever sleep? Unlikely. Are my dreams worth it? Abso-freaking-lutely!

I have had to evaluate for myself, what is most important to me? For me, being home often with my children and homeschooling is not negotiable. It is extremely important to me. In the past, I focused solely on being a stay at home mom, and my career and passions took a backseat. Now, I am learning how to navigate both. It is important to me that I further my education, pursue my passions for women’s health and birth, and have my own career and business. It matters to me as a woman to do all those things.

20170804_164916

I have learned to have my heart at home and follow my heart for my own dreams. It can be done. I also have another dream; that mothers would come together in encouragement and support for one another. It truly does take a village.

Yes, we are exhausted. Yes, it is at times daunting and difficult. But yes, we can follow our dreams while nurturing our small children. I look forward to the incredible things we will do for the world, through work and through raising our children.

What is your dream?

My Mother Thinks Homeschooling Will Ruin My Kids

20161227_190214
Anatomy is fun!

It is February and we are more than half way through our first homeschooling year. My oldest child will be 6 years old next month, kindergarten age. My second child is 4 years old but she is using kindergarten curriculum. Then, I have my 2.5-year-old and my 4 month old baby. It has been a learning experience for us all. Home based learning is an adventure; difficult, wonderful, and filled with messy fun.

I sometimes place pressure on myself, especially since my kindergartner is struggling to read (and frankly, not very interested). Sometimes I push her when my instinct says to let it go, allow her space to lead. I am aware of the eyes on me, watching and waiting for me to mess it all up. I take a breath. I stand tall. I remember that I am her mother, and I know what my child needs.

It is hard to remember that because of my own mother. My mother is highly involved in our lives, in a good way. She is a young and active grandparent “Nana”. My girls adore her! She adores them! It is beautiful. Yet, my mother is also opinionated and stubborn. She believes that homeschooling is the worst thing I could ever do to my children, and I am not exaggerating.

She has told me bluntly that I am setting my children up to be failures. According to her they will be uneducated, socially awkward, and have barely a fighting chance in the world. These are her words. The words of my own mother. They cut so deeply—hurt so badly.

How can she say that to me? Does she think I am so incredibly incompetent? Am I so stupid that I would not realize my children aren’t doing well? Am I so oblivious, or do I care so little? How can she believe these terrible things?

Why must my children sit in a brick and mortar school with 25 other kids in order to learn anything?

Why must they have recess and lunch in order to socialize?

I can’t wrap my mind around her utter disdain and absolute disapproval. I could understand if she preferred public school. I could understand her having some worries. But to insist that my children will suffer and not learn anything, that I cannot comprehend.

I can’t even speak to her about it anymore. She seems so angry about it. I am so close to my mother besides this point, which makes it hurt even more.

I want to talk to her about the activities we are doing. I want to share the joy of watching my girls learn something new. I want to involve her in my girls’ education, just like she is involved in other areas. But I can’t, because she will explode with hurtful words like arrows into my heart.

I am not sure how to manage this with her, but I am sure that I will do what I know is right for my family.

Our first month homeschooling kindergarten!

Soooo…our first homeschool year has begun this month. My oldest child is 5 years old, so she is officially a kindergartner. I also have my nearly 4-year-old daughter doing preschool and a 2-year-old. All of this while 9 months pregnant! I am less than 2 weeks from my “due date” and I have been experiencing a lot of prodromal labor (i.e very slow going early labor). Yet, here we are starting our “official” schooling journey.

This has been a learning experience for me too. I have not been as organized as I imagined I would be. We are basically unschooling, along with a general schedule and a list of the subjects we will cover each week. That said, I am really pleasantly surprised by how much my children have been learning in this more casual style of school. The girls are all very young yet, so I consider imaginative play and a lot of outdoor exploration to be just as important as workbooks and more traditional schoolwork.

Both my 5 year old and my preschooler have been doing math randomly, every day, without any prompting on my part. They will frequently take objects from the kitchen table, or toys from their bins, and then proudly explain to me how many they have left when some are taken away and how many more they have when some are added. I went over more traditional math lessons with them a few times, covering basic subtraction and addition, but now they are taking those lessons and using them during the day by themselves!

Another example is learning shapes. This is more of a review for my kindergartner, but I also added 3D shapes for her such as a cylinder and cube. We did some fun coloring workbook pages with shapes, read a book about shapes, and then we did some slightly complex puzzles with shapes. They had to find shapes that would fit into a pattern on a card they were given, for example they may have a butterfly shape and then need to find which shapes are needed to complete the picture. After we did this, they both come up to me constantly excited to show me a shape they found (my kindergartner told me the farmhouse had a cylinder, my preschooler told me the refrigerator was a rectangle, etc).

They are truly taking in whatever lessons we have and applying it during everyday life.
We take weekly trips to the library and bring back a haul of books. Reading is a big part of what we do, and that has always been the case. I started reading to my oldest when was 6 months old! I showed her baby picture books, and she has always loved reading. My middle child is extremely energy, so it took longer for her to be able to sit through books. I am happy to say that she is usually very good about sitting for reading now, especially when she can pick books out at the library herself that interest her.

We are also going over Spanish, which has been the hardest for me to teach. My husband is bilingual; his parents are from Colombia. He didn’t speak Spanish to them enough, and he was gone for some long periods due to illness. I am sad that they aren’t learning as native speakers, but they are all still so young that it is very possible for them to become fluent if we work on it now. I am teaching it to them through books, and making their own books with words and pictures. We are also using song and memory cards. When this baby is born my husband has promised to speak exclusively in Spanish to the baby, I think this will help our other children as well because they will hear the words on a daily basis in regular language. My mother in law will be coming to stay with us shortly after the baby is born, so she can also help with Spanish while she is here.

Our local homeschooling group (a loosely joined together county wide group) as been wonderful. Some of the mothers really do a lot to put together great activities for the children, such as a nature walk and nature craft that we just love! Even better, the state park this occurs at is only 10 minutes away! We just started this back up because the classes ended over the summer, due to the oppressive heat. They girls made beautiful nature looms, and my younger two children had a blast playing with moss. They also get the chance to run and play outside with other children, getting exercise and making friends.

In addition to this, all three girls are in dance class (yes even my 2 year old!). They love dance! We also took a trip to the museum of natural history last month, and we plan on taking big field trips at least every 3 months. This keeps things new and creative, while learning in new environments. I already have tickets for my oldest two children and I to attend our first children’s targeted ballet (Beauty and the Beast). The library often has activities they can do for free, and we have a YMCA membership which will be super important during the cold months when outside physical activity is more limited (although we WILL be in the snow).

So, this is just the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. It is not easy to be home all week with all the children, but I could never see myself sending them away for school 5 days a week for the majority of the day. It would be so different. We are forming strong bonds as a family, and I want the ability to keep our lives flexible and adapt to each of their needs. There is so much positive in this, it is worth the hard work! (Even 9 months pregnant)

20160919_203800

Peace and blessings to you all.

The Wide Open Heart of a Mother

I think it may be the prenatal hormones that are kicking in. I am getting close to my due date (about 6-8 weeks away) and the baby is moving a lot, our connection has grown a lot already as I prepare myself physically and mentally for his arrival. It could be that, I don’t know. All I know is that I have found myself really contemplating and feeling the vastness of my love for my children.

My oldest is 5 and she will start kindergarten homeschooling within weeks. I am in awe of this little thinking person she has become. I miss her babyhood, yet I adore the child she is and look forward to the years ahead that we have of learning together. She is strongly empathetic and caring, her spirit is one that naturally wants to help others. My hips have been in so much pain lately from SPD (a condition of loose ligaments during pregnancy), and she has taken to rubbing my hips gently to sooth it. I never showed her how to do that, nor did I ask her to do it. She just knew. She just sensed what I needed and desired to help ease my pain. She is also strong, which is good because she is so sensitive. She hurts easily; but I see inside of her the strength of my mother and my grandmother and great-grandmother. Women whose blood runs in her veins; women who are and were strong. She is beautiful in so many ways, my little girl. My mother heart feels physically full to think of her.

And then there is my second, 3.5 year old Liora. She is fiery. She is powerful, all sinewy strength and muscle. She takes a lot of time, attention, and sometimes leaves me questioning my ability as a mother. Yet, she is tiny physically (all that solid muscle in a short petite frame). She is in some ways even softer and more easily damaged than her big sister is. She needs my love in a way that is fierce and terrifying for her. She will rage and tantrum if she is scared of losing it. Recently, she hurt her sister (again) and I was upset. She was all fury; fists, teeth, knees and jabs. But then, she broke down. She wept, and looked up at me with those amazing brown eyes filed with tears and said “mommy, you don’t love me anymore?” My heart broke. Shattered. I pulled her into me and assured with a thousand words and kisses that my love was still there, and would always be there. I spent time this week just holding her. She requires physical touch, and verbal affirmation. She will be a force to be reckoned with in this world, my little Li. A wonderful, loving, fiery force.

My current “baby”, my third daughter Zipporah. She is 2 years old and ready to do everything her big sisters do. They are her world, especially Liora. I labored for a day with Z, and fought hard for her after she was born and the hospital tried to keep her from me. She came home with me with a head full of dark hair and the fullest cheeks. I was a confident mother with her. I knew that I was her mother, and therefore all she needed as a babe. I nursed her, slept with her, and carried her everywhere. Yet, she was always my most independent baby. She rarely ever cried. She enjoyed the chaos around her formed by her big sisters, and as soon as possible she joined in. We called her “free-range baby” because she would just crawl around, then toddle around after her sisters. Momma is still important, but if big sisters are there than she feels safe and ready for adventure. When she says to me “mom mom” my heart is a puddle and she gets whatever she wants. She has an incredible vocabulary for a 2 year old, and she is still my easy going one although the toddler in her does protest when she wants. She adores babies. All babies. Any baby. Just give her a baby and she is in love. Also, food. She loves to eat. She is tall (unlike Liora), and sturdy. Her face reveals her family from Colombia, a beautiful mixture of daddy and me. I am relishing this stage of her life. I love the 2 year old age, despite the tantrums, because of the wonder they have and how every single thing she does is just cute.

And now, my baby boy. My first and only unborn son. I have yet to hold him in my arms but I have carried him and nurtured him for the last several months. Our bodies are connected, almost one. He moves inside of me, and I have learned when he is active and when he sleeps. He reacts to what I eat, and how I am feeling. He is my “healing baby”. He came to us at the close of a horrible, horrible year. He gave me hope. He gave me a reason to change (more of a reason) from the path I was going down. I cannot wait to see what his birth teaches me, and to hold him in my arms and at my breast.

Yes, my mother heart is full. It is full, yet it expands with every child. My mothers heart is wide and open.

 

 

 

Homeschooling Nature Walk&Crafts

Today the girls and I (and hubby) went for a walk at a local state park with some other homeschooling families. Our oldest is 5, so we are new to officially homeschooling but I sure like what I see so far!

We decided to homeschool for a lot of reasons, but one of them was the desire to spend more time with our children and give them a flexible personalized education.  I loved watching them run and play outside with other children. I love that they are with children of a range of ages, giving them the ability to play well with children a little older or younger (as well as have conversations with adults). They were able to use their bodies and senses to learn and exercise but all of it was fun for them, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

The mother who started the event had two creative ideas for the nature walk crafts. The children (and some big kids/adults hehe) made nature bracelets. We wrapped duct tape sticky side up around their wrists and the children added flowers and clovers and leaves to them as they walked the trails. Then, after our hike we came to a picnic area and created big nature collages with the ferns, flowers, leaves, moss, etc that was collected along the way.

I am looking forward to what homeschooling has to offer us as a family, and what kind of relationships my husband and I and our children will develop along the way. Bring it on!

20160615_141458