Welcome back to the Real Homeschoolers interview series! Join me in welcoming Sharla from Look at What You Are Seeing.
Sharla Orren has a BA in Sociology from Henderson State University. She loves homeschooling her two boys, ages 11 and 7. Her husband is the Youth and Family Minister at their church. She currently has her own blog, www.lookatwhatyouareseeing.com in which she writes about homeschooling, natural living, homemaking, and time management.
The Orrens: Daily Adventures and Making Memories
Believe it or not, homeschooling is not something I ever expected for my family. I had always thought that once my child turned 5 years old he would attend public school like everyone else. But by the time he reached school age, we decided instead to send him to a private, half-day kindergarten. That was a great experience; but this particular school did not continue into higher grades.
I started looking into other options because I did not feel like public school would be the right choice for our family at that time. I talked with several people and read many books about homeschooling. I decided that we would homeschool for one year while we looked at other options.
However, I fell in love with homeschooling during the first year and I have not looked back. Homeschooling has been a daily adventure for our family. We learn so much together and make great memories in the process. I am so glad that we are blessed with this option.
My Best Advice for Homeschoolers
One piece of advice I would give to a new homeschooler is, “Relax. Your children will learn.”
I began with a very strict schedule because there were so many exciting things that I wanted my children to learn. I wanted to cram it all in their brain as soon as I could. Our schedule consisted of 15 minute per subject. Period! We would switch subjects after 15 minutes even if we were not finished with that lesson. We also studied every subject every day. This became very stressful not only for me, but for the kids as well.
I soon learned that they would absorb much more when I created a general flow to our school day instead of strict time periods. I also learned that if they were really interested in a subject, it was ok to spend more than 15 minutes talking about it and answering questions.
Sometimes we would even go off on rabbit trails. But that’s ok! When we stopped rushing through subjects, they really began learning. I also started alternating subjects every other day instead doing each subject every day.
I am now able to relax because I realize that my children are always gaining knowledge. There are always opportunities to learn: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as we go about our day-to-day activities, or even on vacation. It seems they have learned so much more this way, and they are retaining much more as well.
Keeping Up with House and Home
Since I have a gently flowing schedule instead of a very strict one, it is easier to keep up with family and housework.
I have a schedule that I use for housework. It is intertwined with our homeschool routine. I also have the kids help with housework. It is a great way to teach a variety of practical living skills.
Sometimes we have grandparents drop by during the day. It is nice to have the flexibility to stop what we are doing and enjoy their company.
Every Wednesday before lunch, we have a scheduled visit with my grandmother at the nursing home. No day is exactly the same, but here is an example of one of our Wednesdays. It actually seems like we have more time to spend with family and have more time for housework because we homeschool.
Helping a Reluctant Learner
It was hard for me to have a reluctant learner. My first child spoiled me. He loved to learn and enjoyed every learning activity I introduced to him. He even taught himself to read at the age of 3.
When my younger son was 3 he told me he hated learning. I was not sure what to do. I decided not to push him into anything that looked like learning to him. I just let him stay with his brother and me during school time. I figured he would voluntarily join in any of the activities that interested him. Every so often he would join us in an activity.
Even by the time he was 5, he was still not excited about learning and he said he did not want to learn to read. I didn’t panic. I decided to give it a few more months.
Then just before he turned 6, it seemed like a light came on. He started reading and wanting to do school activities. He now says he loves learning. He is even ahead of the normal range for his age! I am so glad I decided to let him go at his own pace and not push him too early.
My Favorite Things About Homeschooling
There are so many things to love about homeschooling! I love the amount of time I get to spend with my kids and the amount of time they get to spend with each other– not to mention the amount of time that my husband can be with us, too.
One of the best things about homeschooling is that the Bible is one of our main subjects and we can tie it into
all of our other subjects. The amount of Bible study the kids get in a day is amazing.
Unique Learning Opportunities in Homeschooling
I also love all the great opportunities that they are getting outside of the “classroom.” Both of my children were able to use their skills with Legos to help me with Simply Shakespeare at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
They have also had great learning opportunities at some of our local parks. We are blessed to live by an historic village that is very homeschool friendly, so we get many opportunities at “hands-on” learning.We also live by a state park that offers wonderful co-ops in which we can learn about Indians and animals.
My older son has been able to work on two local elections so far and has met a variety of politicians in our state.He worked at campaign headquarters, passed out buttons, and even recorded a radio campaign ad. He also enjoys volunteering at Historic Washington.
He has had many different speaking opportunities in our community, such as a Lions Club meeting and a United Way fund drive. He has also been on our local TV station at various times. He is currently working on writing and illustrating a book.
I don’t think we would have the time or energy to participate in many of these things if we were not homeschooling. Homeschooling has blessed us with a rich variety of activities and opportunities.
Homeschooling is an amazing experience for our family. I am so glad we were blessed with this great opportunity.
Check out all the interviews in the Real Homeschoolers series as well as a complete list of the questions that were asked. Not all the answers were included, but I have been careful not to change anything about their answers other than grammar and structure for the sake of presentation.