Last week I mentioned that Jed would probably be homeschooled for preschool. Homeschooling has always been on the table as an option for us; even before Jed was born, Darrel and I discussed it as a possibility.
Back then it was simply because Darrel and I both struggled in public school. Both of us, for different reasons, felt as if our adult lives would have launched better had we gotten our GED’s at 16 and started college then. As it was, our last years in high school sucked us dry and left us clamoring to get away from anything educational, and we both wound up off-track in our ’20’s; wasting time and opportunities because we were so disillusioned and disenchanted.
Pregnant with our first child, we spent lots of time fantasizing about the next 18 years and we knew we didn’t want that experience for our baby. So homeschooling came up, and we both decided it was a viable option – if our public schools didn’t seem to fit our kiddo.
Then Jed and Zac came along, and more realities piled on: we live VERY far away from our schools, so a considerable amount of my kids day will be spent on school buses, but more importantly, my kiddos have serious food allergies that (control freak that I am) I do not trust anyone else to maintain properly.
So homeschooling went from a “Yes, that’s a definite option” to “Oh, yes! We’re almost certainly going to homeschool!”
I will admit no small measure of TERROR at that prospect, though. Making sure my children learn everything they need to be functional, useful, well-adjusted adults all on my own is quite a formidable undertaking. I’m not always sure I can do it…at least not well.
I’m starting to think that homeschooling, like parenting in general, is going to be a “learn as I go” education for me. After all, I don’t have to know everything about how to do it right this second. All I really have to do is learn what to do just enough earlier than my sons need me to know it!
For example, The Work Space Challenge.
Because Zac likes to eat (or chew on) everything, but there is nothing he can safely eat, I have had to banish him from the kitchen. (And the dining room, and the bedrooms, and, well, the child basically is trapped in the living room any time he is awake. It’s rotten.)
It also means that leaving crayons, markers, and paper out for Jed to play with is incredibly dangerous for my younger son. So Jed and I don’t get to make art projects, color, practice lettering, or any of the other fun things I had imagined we would be doing together at this point.
I’ve hated it.
I want to be working with Jed on cool, fun projects; making art and finger painting and getting messy with clay. Until recently I just haven’t been able to figure out a way to safely do so.
This could pose a problem if I’m going to properly homeschool Jed. I’ll need to have a safe space to work with him on letters, numbers, shapes and so on, and I’d rather not live in a completely paranoid state that he’ll leave a notebook or crayon out where Zac can eat it.
Fortunately, Jed solved part of that problem for me!
At Nana’s visitation, Jed was so antsy and energetic that Darrel and I realized it would be impossible for him to sit through her funeral without making a scene. So we detoured to Wal-mart and bought him a small dry erase board and some dry erase crayons to keep him distracted through the funeral.
Since he hardly ever gets to color or draw, we knew this would work – and it did! He loved it, and people commented on how well-behaved our kids were throughout the service.
When we arrived home, I decreed that the board and the crayons had to live on the back porch. Jed was okay with this.
And one morning, I stepped out to see what Jed was up to and found this:
I was horrified, of course, but I couldn’t be too angry with him; due to his lack of access to drawing utensils, he had never been taught NOT to write on walls and appliances. So we had a discussion about how that was NOT okay, and I set about trying to remove the crayon.
Imagine my surprise when IT WIPED RIGHT OFF WITH A WET RAG! No mess, no fuss, no nasty chemical cleaners needed at all! (Though the slightly nubby textured side of the freezer didn’t wipe quite as clean as the smooth side.)
A little light bulb went off over my head…dry erase crayons…blank freezer front…wipes right off…HELLO! I have a gigantic, FREE dry erase board right on my porch to use in teaching Jed!
So I decided to test it out. I drew some shapes on one side, then drew the same shapes in different order on the other side and showed him the concept of matching like items.
And my bright little boy caught on right away and loved repeating the names of the shapes back to me and drawing his crooked little lines to match up all the shapes!
He has since practiced drawing shapes (he’s got triangles down, now!) and trains, not to mention houses, and we even worked on the alphabet and tracing letters, too.
So if you’ve got paper restrictions and a smooth-fronted freezer, this could be a life-saver for you, too. Just get some dry erase crayons and you have the most gigantic dry erase board you’ll ever see outside of a school classroom!
(Oh, and please excuse the almost constant state of near-nakedness that “Jed pictures” always seem to have. He’s been in a semi-nudist phase for quite a while now; I’ve given up on trying to keep clothes on him when we aren’t going to leave the house. I understand most kids go through this phase; I’m counting on him growing out of it before it ceases to be cute!)
Do you have any clever solutions to homeschool challenges that you’ve discovered? Please share them in the comments!
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