We entered new territory this year – adding in a regular student that is not related to us.
“I-Bear” is one of Puma’s friends from the dance academy we attend. She had been wanting to be homeschooled for a very long time, and as the universe would have it, last year I was toying with the idea of taking on more students so that each of our Sweet Peas would have a companion in our home that is their own grade level.
As our understanding grows about homeschool regulations, we have learned that it is okay for us to homeschool one child that is not related to us. If we accept more than that, we would have to start an official school! **crickets** No one in the Bowman House wants to deal with that paperwork and adminstration…
Our Preschool Playdates provide some opportunity for mixing and mingling, however the overall lesson there is that I am going to have to be better about finding opportunities for our other Sweet Peas to be around children their age. Then, getting out of the house and meeting up with other homeschooling families, which takes me out of my comfort zone. Here I grow again, thanks to my Sweet Peas!!
Accepting a new student has been a good experience for the most part. For me, there is no more teaching in my pajamas. Not a big shift, it just means that my shower happens before 7:00 am most mornings. It has actually been nice to have time in the afternoon. I can’t say that I miss the rushed showers before dashing off to whatever class our children are attending.
For the first time, I created a school calendar. I had always planned out our year in a monthly form, so I had a loose idea of what our targets were. This year, I have a one-page document that incorporates trips the girls have planned, as well as set vacation times. It has been nice to have an easy reference sheet, so I will definitely be doing that again with or without extra students.
As far as family dynamics, Puma was definitely the “captain of the kids” in our home. I wondered how the dynamics on our home would change when we added a child that is older than her. All of the younger children compete for I-Bear’s attention, and Puma has taken that in stride. In some ways, I wonder if it relieves her from always feeling like she was the leader.
Puma and I also had several conversations as we made this transition. I made sure to tell her that my love for her was not going to change because there was a new person in the home. I had some childhood experience with sharing my mom with outsider children that came to visit, so I was able to share those feelings and reassure her that she is still first in my heart, and that she will always be my favorite (age)-year old.
Puma and Night Owl had the biggest adjustments to make. Puma has had to learn that just because she isn’t the most advanced student, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t intelligent. Night Owl has had to share his study partner, which was hard for him since he really treasures time spent with his sister. We made some other adjustments to our day so that those two get their daily one-on-one time.
Overall, it has worked out much better than I could have expected. The older girls enjoy working together and motivate each other to finish their work. Night Owl has been gracious in accepting a third person into their study group. Charger and Otter seem to enjoy having another “big sister” in the mix, and I-Bear is mixing in well with all of us.
We continue to use the Sonlight curriulum for the older three. Starting in this month, I am going to use Simple Success for Otter. It was a program I found at the homeschool show in 2009. I tried to use it with Night Owl but it really wasn’t his style since he wasn’t ready for it, so we will see how it goes this time around.
I will post an update about it once we have used it for a couple of months. Wishing all of you other homeschool families out there a great school year!!