What I Miss About Homeschooling Littles

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I’ve been talking a lot lately about how much I am loving this season of homeschooling some mostly-independent-learning teens. It’s true. It is an exciting season after the mom-intensive preschool and elementary years. However, I’d be remiss in my mission to encourage all homeschooling families if I didn’t tell you moms of littles that there are most definitely things I miss about homeschooling young kids.

What I Miss About Homeschooling Littles

photo credit tom woodward on flickr

Knowing more than them.

If you’ve ever spent much time with a teen, you know that they are clearly of the opinion that you don’t know a lot about much. Thinking you’ve got it all figured out is one of the hallmarks of being a teen.

The fact is, however, when they start learning things on their own or getting into the stuff that you haven’t thought about in 20+ years (algebra, anyone?), they may really be on to something. They really might now more than you.

When you’ve got littles, though, chances are in your favor that you have higher academic skill than them. Enjoy that.

Learning is fun!

I’m not going to lie. My teens and I do still have a lot of fun learning together. However, the days of really getting some serious learning accomplished with games like bingo, concentration, or Go Fish are no longer a weekly occurrence.

When you’re still in the phase where play is learning, you can have some serious fun. You just have to forget about the dust bunnies and the dishes in the sink for awhile.

History can be absorbed through great books and hands-on activities…

I still think that a good historical fiction and a hands-on project is the foundation for a great history lesson at any age, but in the younger years, history can be led entirely through great books. Need to learn about America’s early history? You can’t go wrong with Little House on the Prairie or American Girl books.

You want to head a little further back? The Magic Tree House has got you covered! They’ve even got non-fiction companion guides that our whole family enjoyed.

…and so can science!

I fondly remember the days of watching a Magic School Bus DVD and/or reading one of the books as a jumping off point for some fun science learning. And, then, there are life-size body cut-outs for learning about the human body and baking-soda-and-vinegar volcanoes or Oreo moon phases for earth science. (I’m still doing that last one the first chance I get!)

You can do nature scavenger hunts or use books like Nature in a Nutshell. You can study birds and insects and animals and reptiles. You can take field trips to the zoo, the aquarium, or a local pond. You can grow tadpoles and butterflies.

So. much. fun!

Sure, you can do a lot of those things with teens, too, but they already did all that when they were little, so it’s not as much fun, nor as relevant to what they’re currently learning.

Field trips are less complicated.

I love field trips for little kids: a guided tour of the grocery store or library, the police station, the fire station, apple orchards, farms – that’s fun, y’all, and I miss it. I’m already entertaining thoughts of doing some of this stuff again when my youngest niece is old enough. Sometimes her mom lets me have her over for play dates.

They’re not too big for fun stuff.

Night at the Museum parties. Around the World Day. Dressing up. Teens get too big for a lot of that stuff in a hurry. Honestly, there is still much they can learn from all those things, but I think it goes back to having already done them when they were little. They just don’t hold the same appeal that they used to.

And, don’t even get me started on all the preschool learning opportunities they’ve outgrown.

If you’re in the midst of those years, it can be so easy to want to fast-forward to more independence – I know. I was there. However, being now the mom of three teens, I can say that there is much truth to the saying:

The days are long, but the years are short.

Yes, it can be easier homeschooling teens, but there is so very much to be savored and enjoyed about homeschooling little ones and I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to missing those years from time to time.

What ages and stages are you currently homeschooling?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I agree that the simple and light-hearted days of teaching science by making a batch of Goo with cornstarch, but I have to admit that I’m finding I prefer homeschooling my high schoolers – hours of interesting discussions and lively debates – plus now they can read the same books I’m reading! No more pre-reading children’s books and sappy YA! 😀

    1. Oh, no way would I trade this season I’m in now with all teens for those little kids years…but I might trade a day or two. 🙂

  2. Kris, thanks for the trip deep into my memory to the days of Magic School Bus and Magic Treehouse:) I do miss those times and how easy it was to impress my kids with simple activities. I had to smile when you touched on knowing more than they do because many times my teens amaze me with their knowledge and that causes me to dig deeper so I can learn more. Great post this morning!

  3. How hilarious! We know more than they do. Thanks for the endorphin rush.
    My oldest just turned 13 and my youngest is 8 so I’ve got the best of both worlds. I could do without the teen attitude though.

  4. I love this post and the one you wrote recently about hs’ing independing learners.

    I feel like I recently woke up to realising that my 9 and 10 year olds are on the brink of becoming independent learners. I’ve spent these years accumulating a houseful of fantastic homeschool art and science supplies, yet we are using them less and less often. But it’s not too late… I’m intending to squeeze in every hands-on activity I can still interest them in before I lost them entirely to their own books and computer screens!

  5. This was so wonderful to read. We are just beginning our homeschooling journey. My oldest will be 5 next Tuesday and she had been begging me to start school so we have begun kindergarten this year. If it were just her then homeschooling would be a breeze, but I also have a 2.5 year old son and a 9 week old son. They make things a bit… overwhelming. But my oldest keeps me focused and is the one reminding me that it’s time to do school each day. Your post made me remind myself how much fun I really am having with teaching her and am so lucky to share in her learning experiences.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Jenny. That’s exactly what I was going for. Yes, working for independence is nice and, yes, these mom-intensive years can be difficult, but there are so many moments to savor. Enjoy!

  6. HI to everyone here.I couldn’t help walking down memory lane as I read this blog post.
    My kids are all grown now.Yes, they were homeschooled all the way, but I miss those young years so very much. I can’ t help living it all over again as I read the comments as well. My memories are like snapshots of joy I take out over and over again. I find myself looking at baby pictures and remembering all the times we picked apples at an orchard, or strawberries . I remember those field trips to museums too.
    Yes, those years are tough, but they go by so fast. And I never honestly thought about how hard it was going to be to drop them off at college. It is hard , yes, but it is also one of the most poignant experiences one can go through as a mom. It’s a feeling of having been there and having persevered and seeing your kids doing what they want to do that sustains you . It’s very encouraging when they smile and wave and tell you they couldn’t have gotten there without you and Dad. I hope all of you will be able to enjoy your years with your kids at home and when those birdlings are ready to fly on their own, that their joy will mirror yours.

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