Homeschooling Advice 101: Patricia

Your Name: 
What does it mean?: 
I want my children to learn to think and learn. The trick here is that I came through an education system (right up to Post Grad Uni) that doesn't really teach either of these well. I also believe that if you are going to teach something effectively, you have to both understand and believe it. In the first few years of homeschooling I was blessed with a child that learnt everything no matter what method of delivery. I had started teaching her patterning and other basic maths principles at 2 1/2 to 3 and she learnt to read in two weeks at 5. I was throwing mountains of work at her and she was getting it done. I started to wonder what the point of all of this was and realized I didn't have a big picture and I didn't understand the process of learning. At the same time my second child shows signs of non-compliance to all methods used for the first. TIME FOR RESEARCH! I looked at the aspects of my program that produced results - Suzuki music and Saxon maths. I realized that I was getting results in the areas that were using the classical approach to early education. These results were in both guinea pigs! Now I had come through an education system that dismissed repetition and drill as painful and a waste of time but I my "research" was proving the opposite. I was getting outstanding results. I have since moved my whole syllabus to the Classical approach. I understand the process and can therefore teach it effectively. Music is a big part of our learning and our life.
How do you do it practically?: 
With self discipline! Because I know it works I push myself 4 days a week. I try to combine activities between age groups, even if the goal for each child is different. People tell me I'm mad for homeschooling, I reply that I'm insane for teaching them music!It's much harder but so worthwhile. My point being that if you know the value of what you are doing you are more inclined to get it done, even against the odds.
How do you cope with all the children (24/7)?: 
I have four children, people have been asking me this since they were born. My reply is always the same - the more time you spend with your children the less time you need away from them. That doesn't mean I don't have my moments. Sometimes I send them all outside and have a date with a Violin Concerto! You'd be surprised how young children can understand this.
How will I get it all done?: 
I use a syllabus outline from a mother of 7. All of her children have graduated from a very good University. She has slimlined the process so that a little every day gets results. Sometimes it's a push, sometimes there are incentives. But I know the results are worth it. It's a good idea to get the team on board with meals and cleaning. I see this as life skills as well.
What does your day look like?: 
I have a structured timetable which takes up about 2 -3 hours of each child's time but all of mine. Swimming lessons and music teachers take up time too. We have Friday off to do social activities except for No1 who has maths. We all do music practice every day.
What if your partner isn't on board with it yet?: 
This is part of the reason I'm sitting here writing this! My partner was totally opposed to it. I had, and needed, nerves of steel to deal with other members of the families. The first year was the hardest but I knew in my heart that this was right. Gradually things began to change. People began to see that our children hadn't turned into monsters. Really "liberal" friends loved them - their independents and talents. When Mr ERO came to visit he topped it off, he said "Don't ever stop". No one ever hassles me now. No1 played in the Black Barn concert last December (aged 9) and is playing in the Regional Youth Orchestra from July. No2 reads well, is learning multiplication and plays the Viola well (aged 8), No3 reads, writes, does yr3 maths and played a 22 piece solo piano concert in front of 25 guests - aged 5. One of these children would have been remedial from day one at school. One of them would have been off school 50% of the year at least with chronic asthma.
What if I prefer natural learning - what will ERO think?: 
ERO wants to know that you know what you are doing. That you have a vision and understand what is best for your children. My point with ERO is embrace the opportunity for external comment. It can, and usually is, a really positive thing, and it helps on those awful Tuesday mornings when you wonder about your sanity.