When I realized I was expecting a baby, I began to chant, “I will not homeschool.” I said it the night before I showed up at the headmaster’s office to withdraw my son.
The next morning, I looked in the mirror and admitted what I already knew. I was already homeschooling every afternoon and on weekends. My chant changed.
“Why not get this done in three hours every morning instead of creating homework agony every afternoon and most of the day Saturday? “
I wish I could say the change solved all our troubles. I fear gray hair and bald patches would reveal my subterfuge.
We did not recreate the Garden of Eden homeschool-style. I often locked myself in the bathroom, stared back at the haunted reflection in the mirror, and chanted a new tune: “Pick your pain. Pick your pain. Pick your pain.” Makes you want to sign up tomorrow, doesn’t it?
In two years, I will issue my last diploma and receive my homeschooling pink slip. My tears of frustration, uncertainty, and disillusionment now give way to tears of nostalgia. Where have the years gone?
Before you know it, you will join me. I look back at where I’ve been and how far you have yet to come. Here are some things I learned in my journey as a reluctant homeschooler. I hope they light your way.
1) You and your child were created with a unique plan and purpose. Repeat this truth daily especially if any of you struggle with learning challenges. God is sovereign over your mistakes as a parent and will fulfill his purposes for each of you.
2) A self-governed kid is a happy kid. Self-government grows out of healthy boundaries and expectations. Belonging, responsibility, team work, and personal identity develop when boundaries make life predictable.
4) In life, there are times that work is just work. Don’t kill yourself making school ‘fun’ just to prevent frustration. Perseverance despite frustration or boredom is a skill that will serve your student well later in life.
5) Be willing to pace yourself. Rare is the day a traditional teacher completes everything in her plan book. If you expect too much too soon, you will all be exhausted by sixth grade when it is time to increase academic intensity. Ask a friend if you are off balance in your expectations. Adjust accordingly.
6) When you are in over your head, ask for help. Don’t let pride or fear shackle you in chains of silent suffering. Your child is depending on you to be courageous enough to ask for help when you both need it. You will be amazed to find you are not alone and comforted at the direction you receive.
7) Don’t check your brain at the door when your child has classes away from home. Too many times, parents fail to require accountability at home for a class taught elsewhere. Don’t get lazy and assume the ‘out of sight out of mind’ position. Check assignment lists, confirm the work is done, ask the teacher for feedback.
8) It is o.k. to change curriculum mid-stream if it is not working for any of you. Don’t hold on to something just because you spent the money. Sell it quickly before it is damaged – or has damaged your relationships because you couldn’t let it go.
9) If what you are doing isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. You are not a failure if you aren’t notebooking, nature journaling, or creating a home-based business. In our Pinterest-adoring world, it is easy to develop educational ADD flitting from one possibility to another. Relax and be satisfied with your approach. You are good enough even if your homeschool is not Pinterest-worthy.
10) Homeschooling is like new parenthood. Remember when sleepless nights reduced you to daytime tears? Then, you woke one morning and missed those middle of the night feedings, didn’t you? Before you know it, diplomas and pink slips will be on the horizon. Treasure each season. Even in the darkness of your homeschooling night, there is sweetness. And, dawn always follows the dark.
Carol Anne Swett is a Homeschool Mom who has faced various trials. She writes from her heart to encourage and share life with other Moms in the midst of life. She blogs at Confessions of a Fraidy Cat and is a contributor for Hedua.com