We've been a home schoolin' family since November. And although it's not perfect, I'm really glad we made the decision and took the plunge. We did try out school here, but to sum up it really stressed everyone out and was something we weren't ready for.
I'm of the mind that kids should be kids and play as much as possible. I want them to be excited about learning new things and be free to explore things they are interested in. Sometimes that works great in a school setting, and sometimes it doesn't. For us and the stage of life we're in right now, I truly believe school at home is the best option.
And when I say "school," I'm kind of using the term loosely. I've done a lot of trial and error in the last few months, and I feel like we're slowly working the kinks out and getting into a groove. Choosing a curriculum seemed to be overkill, and trying to be too structured only created frustration.
I think I've finally found what works for us (although it's a work in progress, and I freely admit that I don't always know what I'm doing), and makes me feel really triumphant and happy. I have one word for you, my friends: Themes. We choose a theme every week to two weeks based on things I know they'll be interested in and get excited about. We check out lots of library books and then I search online for activities and crafts that have something to do with our theme. For quite a long time now, the girls (mostly Cbear, but Jellybean followed suit) have really been into science type of books, so some of the themes we've done are the human body, dinosaurs, bugs, mushrooms, space, etc., along with whatever holiday is coming up.
As for ABCs and 123s? Meh, we work on them some during our activities, but I'm not pushing it too hard at the moment. I think it will come in time, especially if they stay excited about learning new things. We're probably a bit behind what's considered normal for this age, but I'm kind of in love with the Scandinavian idea of "better late than early" and not doing much formal reading or math at this age in favor of play. Plus they make up for it with knowledge in other areas. My four-year-old might not be able to read, but she can tell you all about the solar system and explain how warning colors work in nature. Hey, as long as they're learning, I'm happy.
Some days we are busy with our theme all day long, and some days we skip "school" entirely, especially if it's nice outside or we have somewhere else to be. The girls have started a weekly gymnastics class and we usually get together with friends once or twice a week. We try to visit the library, parks, museums, and indoor play centres that are nearby but we're also definitely fans of staying home too and not being on the go constantly. I love having the freedom to really capitalize on their interests and hit it hard on some days and taking a break on other days to just play or snuggle or read books in bed. I can work around their personality quirks and figure out what makes them tick, and its awesome to witness them discovering something new.
Our mornings are a little lazy, and we don't rush around. This is really great for me because I am so not a morning person. Sometimes we make pancakes just because we can, then I drink a second cup of tea while we listen to music, diffuse some essential oils and have lego-building sessions at the kitchen table. Sometimes "school" is in the morning in our pajamas, and other times it's in the afternoon right before the "witching hour" before Clint comes home and we desperately need something to do. We dig in the mud and look for bugs, or go for walks around the neighborhood to gather cattails and pull all the fuzz out (I swear, it's therapeutic). We create, paint, squish play dough, and bury things in magic sand. There are huge messes and I try really hard not to freak out about it. I also love reading things like this. It makes me want to jump in the air and pump my fist while yelling "YES!"
We're really not sure what school will look like for us in the future. If for some reason our time is extended here, we've decided to stick with homeschool, but if we return to the US this summer as planned...well, we're not sure. Maybe regular school, maybe homeschool for a few more years. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, knowing that I'm doing the right thing for MY kids (I know this isn't the case for all kids, friends) at this moment in time is enough.