Child-Centered Homeschooling
Sometimes, despite the best intentions and planning, things go haywire.  At times like that, you have to just keep plugging ahead and roll with it.  Sometimes, these times present the best learning opportunities too! 

When I decided to homeschool my daughter, I had recently learned I was pregnant.  Although I still wanted to homeschool her, I was unsure how I would do it when the new baby arrived.  How would I teach her when I was in the hospital?  What about my doctor appointments?  When would I have time during the first few weeks home with the newest addition to our family?  Now, I was starting to rethink the idea of homeschooling.  Still, the arrival of the baby was months away, so we decided to see how it went.  Maybe it wouldn't be a good fit afterall and she would go to public school in the Spring. 

Fast forward to December 2009.  I was 37 weeks pregnant and no really feeling like doing much of anything ~ least of all homeschooling my daughter.  Still we continued on knowing that we would be taking about 3 weeks off after the baby arrived.  My daughter came with me to every doctor appointment and was able to see the ultrasound and hear the baby's heartbeat.  What a learning experience!  She learned along with me the proper nutrition needed and the benefit of a daily vitamin.  After the baby arrived, she learned how to prepare bottles, bathe an infant, how to hold an infant, sleep cycles ~ basically how to take care of baby.  She was, and is, the best big sister ever!!  I know this type of learning doesn't sound like "normal" learning for a child of her age (7), but it was real-world, hands-on learning that cannot be duplicated in any text.  This is something that she can and will actually use!  After about 2 weeks at home, we were back to our homeschooling.  The setting was far more relaxed than before the baby.  We had to take breaks for feedings, diaper changing, etc.  Little sister sat patiently (most of the time) in her bouncy seat right on top of the table next to us.  We learned together as a family and as individuals.  I would never change a thing about that very special time in our lives. 

Now that little sister is almost 1 1/2 years old, we have to be even more flexible than before.   There are times when she allows us to complete all of the day's lessons in one sitting, but more often than not, we need to get creative with our learning.  We take breaks, wait for daddy to get home and play with little sister, take our learning on the road or to the outdoors, etc.  The point is, with all of the freedom we have as homeschoolers, we can learn when it's best for us as a family.  We have no school clock to punch in and out of.  If we aren't really interested in something, we can move on to another subject!  If we just need a mental health day (or week), we can take a break too.  If we want to go on vacation, we are not limited to the days listed on the school calendar.  Most times this is a blessing.

Another example of rolling with the punches came just this week.  We were supposed to spend a week at Walt Disney World.  Well, big sister got sick with the flu and we had to cut the trip short by about 3 days.  Luckily, they refunded us the unused days and we live close enough to drive home within a couple of hours.  As luck would have it, big sister's fever went away the next day, so we really could have stayed.  Oh, well, let's use this vacation time to just hang out as a family.  We can go to the beach, the zoo, play games, etc.  Maybe this detour from our original plans was a blessing in disguise.  At any rate, we are rolling with the cards we were dealt as best we can ~ just like we always do! 

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