Homeschooling Our Two Giggly Girls
- Stefanie Smith TOS Magazine Contributor
- 2014 16 May
I would have never imagined in a million years that I would become a homeschooler. I have a degree in elementary education and have taught a lot of other people’s children. It’s a great job. I loved seeing the “light bulb” moments in all of those little faces. Homeschooling was not even on my radar.
Homeschooling made its first “blip” on my radar when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was on a due-date board with a bunch of wonderful ladies, one of whom was a homeschooler. I would devour her posts about their schooling. Over the next few years God placed several other homeschoolers in our lives.
In 2004, it was time to pick new orders. Kevin mentioned Guam . . . Guam? Where in the world is Guam? So I started researching it. After I got over my initial freak-out over brown tree snakes (Google it, you’ll understand! LOL), I was interested. Beautiful island, relaxed lifestyle, lots of diving and traveling. So I said okay. We were moving to Guam.
As a result of my research, I learned that the schools in Guam were not very good. About 20% of the students scored at the national average. But hey, we’d be using the DOD schools because we’re military. Come to find out, their schools weren’t all that great either. Homeschooling had been in the back of my mind since I had first heard about it, so I casually mention homeschooling to my husband, figuring he’d call me a freak and let out a great big “No way!”
Here’s where God stepped in. He knows that I need obvious guidance regarding his will, or I will miss what he’s telling me entirely. The Lord was forthright with me, a fact for which I’m very grateful!
Kevin didn’t freak. Instead, he was interested. In fact, he thought it was a great idea. At first we figured we’d do it just while we were in Guam. Then God led us to know that he’d like us to try it longer. And here we are, seven years later, and we haven’t looked back.
Our school day is fairly relaxed. I don’t have a rigid schedule. I aim to start by 9 a.m., and we just keep going until we’re done. For the most part, the order of our subjects depends on our mood that day. We start with Bible and then I work with my tot, if she’s in the mood. Mackenzie is pretty good at working on her own during that time. We save all of our reading for during the little one’s nap because she is often causing a ruckus of one kind or another.
Our homeschool revolves around great books. We have been using Sonlight, a literature-based curriculum, from the beginning. We love books, and we read a lot. Reading consumes the bulk of our school day. I think we’ve found three books that we haven’t loved. Learning through literature is so much more memorable than reading a textbook.
I’d like to say that I’m one of those crafty, hands-on moms, but I’m not. I’d like to be, but that just isn’t my nature. I know that my children need and crave more of that stuff, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to try to add in more hands-on and crafty projects. I’ll fully admit to looking for the easiest ones I can find, but the girls never seem to mind.
While my husband, Kevin, is very supportive of our homeschooling, I handle every aspect of it, from the curriculum choices down to the teaching. Kevin is a blessing in so many other ways. He is a great provider and always makes sure that we have everything we need and a few things that we don’t. If something isn’t working for us, he’s the first one to say ditch it and try something else. He always has my back when it comes to discipline and is willing to lend a hand with the housework on the days that I can’t get to it. He keeps me sane.
I am homeschooling two little girls, aged 11 and 4. When I ask Mackenzie what she likes best about homeschooling says, “Everything.” That is not the complete truth. She gripes about math and anything that involves writing except, ironically, handwriting. What I think she loves best about homeschooling is the time it frees up. She’s free to read as much as she wants. She reads for hours a day on top of her reading assignments for school. She’s able to spend hours practicing the piano, which she has a real talent for. She has time to dress and style her American Girl dolls in a million different outfits, as well as time to lie around with her little sister and watch “baby shows” and not be worried about what other fifth-graders would think about it.
As for the little one, I think that Kayleigh likes it when I’m distracted with Mackenzie’s schooling and she can dump out buckets of toys before I’m on to her. My little tornado just likes to have fun—on her terms.
My motivation comes from God and my love for my children. There are certainly days when I ask myself if I have lost my mind for taking on this monumental task, but then I think about some stranger getting to spend the best part of the day with my children. What a preposterous idea! God called my husband and me to train our children in the way that they should go. He didn’t require a crowd of strangers to lend a hand. The blessings always seem to outweigh the rougher moments, and I am grateful that I get to spend them all with my children.
Stefanie and Kevin Smith are the proud parents of two giggly girls, Mackenzie (11) and Kayleigh (4). Stefanie is a former public school teacher turned homeschooler. You can read all about their homeschooling adventures on Stefanie’s blog, Life With My Giggly Girls.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: May 16, 2014