The house is now a flurry of activity: Olivia is back and is getting adjusted to family life again, I am running around packing and preparing the house and the schedule for the weeks I will be away, and I am trying to finish up as much homeschooling I can for the academic year.
I am proud to say that Peter is Tiger Academy's first Kindergarten graduate! Tiger Academy is the name the kids gave to our "school." I kid you not, the first name suggested for our school was "Jungle Love"! The kids explained that they came up with this name because they love animals that live in the jungle! I got out of that name by suggesting "Tiger Academy" because the Tiger is the mascot of Princeton University and, after all, tigers live in the jungle (right?). They agreed. Phew.
But, I digress.
Peter has finished Kindergarten but I am a bit behind with my two other homeschoolers. Nicholas has a few more weeks left of language arts and math. Olivia has about a month left of all of her subjects, mostly because we took a hiatus for her trip to Greece, but also because I had the most trouble with Olivia procrastinating and not following my lead with her school work. Partly, this is because 3rd grade is a lot more work than K and 1st grade, and she had to focus a lot more than her brothers. But, I wonder if her relative unwillingness to comply with me (compared to Nicholas and Peter) is also due to her being in traditional school for more years than them, and she has a more solidified view of what "school" should look like. She has been testing me and this whole homeschooling idea a lot this year, always with a little skepticism, and definitely testing the boundaries of what mommy/teacher will let her get away with. But, perhaps this is just what most 9 year olds do?
Even with this slight rebellion in our midst, I think this year of homeschooling (so far; its not over yet!) was a success. The learning curve is huge in the first year, and I feel so much more confident now going into year number 2. I have realized that kids really are learning all the time, and very interesting, "worthy" things. That is, when the computers and TV's are off, and all iPads and iTouches hidden away.
It has been very cool to watch Peter and Nicholas develop as readers and to see Olivia develop as a writer. They have all taken huge jumps in math, thanks in large part to a wonderful math tutor who comes over twice a week. Most of all, I have loved the books I've read-aloud to them, and I feel like we have all been on an adventure together, in an even more intense way than if we had, say, watched a movie together. It's fun to have us all be able to reference an obscure character from Johnny Tremain and have us all get it.
Homeschooling for us has mostly meant freedom. Freedom from the overly and needlessly busy school schedules, freedom to teach and to learn whatever it is we love, freedom to speed up or go more slowly on certain subjects, freedom from arbitrary grade levels, freedom from a lot of the assumptions our school systems (and overall society?) makes about what we should believe or how we should act. It has been very liberating.