I haven’t written about homeschooling for the longest time, and I really have so many posts spinning around in my head… I decided this year that we are going to have a monthly theme… in order to get the posts out that our readers want to read. At the end of each year I transfer all the blog post ideas from the previous year’s diary into the next one and I was horrified to realise that I have actually put off writing about homeschooling high schoolers for about two years now. In retrospect this is a good thing… the post I had planned two years ago is definitely not the post I would write now, what can I say, experience and my children are great teachers. Anyway I know that folk want a “What’s working for us right now” kind of post… and I have a couple of fun science posts and some fabulous GiveAways up my sleeve for this month… so look out for our homeschooling posts in the weeks ahead.
I thought I would kick off this month of homeschooling posts with:
Se7en + 1 Things That Seasoned Homeschoolers Don’t Always Share…
- The Guilt of the Homeschool Mother:
- The Myth of the Well-Rounded Student:
- You Can Only Provide the Tools:
- You Will Make Mistakes:
- You Will Want to Quit:
- Your Students will be Far From Perfect:
- Homeschooling isn’t Forever:
- The Myth of the All-Round Mother:
When we have so much freedom to pick and choose the best available programs for our children we can often worry that our kids are not receiving the best education that we thought we could give them… A visit with friends and their math program looks so much more fun than your own. Other friends have a writing program second to none and yet more friends have a endless supply of incredible activities to keep their children stimulated and interested in learning. What starts as a “That would be so lovely…” feeling quickly becomes a “my kids are missing out feeling…” Yes, it is the old “Don’t Ever Compare” situation. You cannot give your child every single possible advantage and even if your child was in the best, most clear thinking, incredible school in the world… there would still be somethings that your child couldn’t pursue… there might be a clash with orchestra and skiing; chess club and X-country could be on the same day. Your child just cannot do everything and you cannot provide them with everything – it is ridiculous to even think we can… but homeschool moms seem to think they have to have to do so much more for their kids – you do and you don’t… you do have to do your best and you don’t have to do it all, a lot of your child’s education is just that, their education.
There is a relentless pursuit of activities, for homeschooled and non-homeschooled children alike, so that they may enter the adult world with every advantage one day. No study has ever shown that the child that partakes in a plethora of activities becomes a more successful adult, however you are measuring success. In fact, many children the world over, don’t actually partake in organised activities and yet grow up to lead fulfilling lives. Not to mention, wherever your children are being educated they are in the real world, there are not many folk who are actually raising their children in a closet. I have found that my kids value long lazy afternoons, where they can create and do more of their own projects. It has become a far more valuable way for our kids to learn and spend their time, than dashing from activity to activity. I have a feeling that this quest for “well-rounded” children reflects the affluent society that we live in far more than it reflects the nurturing of our children.
Your students actually have to do the work. I never fail to be impressed at the incredible displays of work that a local school provides as their end of year exhibition. I am always a littler deflated and think – my kids haven’t done work that looks like that… at which stage the father person will always mention that the grade 1 teacher must have an army of helpers to do all the necessary fine-motor cutting… and glue control for these assignments. And if it isn’t an incredibly busy teacher, then it really does reflect a lot of parents that are burning the mid-night oil with homework assignments. An exhibition is just that – a showcase of their very best work… I know that in a given year my children will each produce a handful of beautiful assignments… but most of their work is just typical scrawlings in a note book… ragged writing on paper that they continuously forget to file… regular kids doing regular work, that rise to the occasion when a project inspires them… just like us!!!
In fact you will make dozens of mistakes, daily. If my children have taught me nothing else it is how to say I am sorry. I make mistakes… I pick projects that don’t excite them, I expect them to dash through the dreadful and get onto the fun stuff… I often expect so much more from my kids than I expect from myself. As your kids get older they are far more apt to mention, rather than just observe, that you may not be practicing what you preach. And when your high-schoolers ask how you had time to surf everyday for weeks on end and get your coursework done… you may have to confess that your work ethic came a little later in life, with a certain amount of maturity and that they are streaks ahead of what you were when you were their age. The truth is we want the best for our kids, we don’t want them to suffer from the same mistakes we made… but they have to, we have to give them the breathing space to make the right decisions and when they don’t… A hug rather than “I told you so” is very often the best training.
There is always “The Rah, Rah” about how wonderful homeschooling is… when homschoolers are with non-homeschoolers they feel they have to say that homeschooling is so great. When homeschoolers are with other homeschoolers folks tend to talk about how well their school is going, even though they may look worn out!!! Truth is homeschooling is hard work, of course it can be brilliant fun and I really wouldn’t change it for the world. But there will be times when you want to quit. And that’s okay. Make a plan to work around that… the shear year-in/year-outness of it all means that there have to be seasons of schooling. Seasons when you conquer heaps, things just work and you do incredible projects alongside each other. And seasons when you claw your way through the day’s reading… where even the thought of spending ten minutes making a batch of cupcakes is more than you can muster… Here’s the thing… your kids will get older and they will make their own cup-cakes. I know it is hard to believe when you have four kids under six… but there will be a time when you kids can actually do their own thing competently… in fact when their own thing might mean saying to you: “You seem a bit cranky, why don’t you take a nap?” I tell you the truth it goes full circle.
I know it is hard to imagine, when you have an eager kindergartener asking “Is it a school day? Is it? Is it?…,” that you will ever have a child that will look you in the eye and say “all done” when they are far from it. I know it is incredible to believe that a child will tell you they have read a book and coloured in a map… when they have actually not moved the book from the shelf and their idea for colouring the map was to take a brown pencil crayon and write “treasure” over the only featured island. I know you can think I have appalling children… the truth is out. But most likely your children will have their faults too and they, like all of us, will do their best to hide them from you. Probably the hardest thing for me to accept is the incredible level of “forgetfulness”… I have no idea why older folk are teased for their forgetfulness and “senior moments” while our kids forget on a daily basis… to make their beds, do a page of math, the list is endless… yes it is stuff that they have to do everyday and we could have lists plastered on every wall, not exactly the decor I am after though! When you are a homeschool mom and your kids push you to the edge… you have to remember that it is all about training and it just takes time, lots of it. I would rather my child rebelled about a math exercise than any number of other things that friends of mine have had to deal with. Pick your fights, make your stand and let the rest go…
This is probably the hardest of all to believe… especially if your kids are still young and reckless… and yes I still have one who is a way off starting school yet!!! But your kids really do grow up… you will miss those bedtimes when they wanted just one more story, those afternoons having picnics in a fort in the garden… it will all pass, I can see the end on sight, certainly for our oldest two students… they are still a little way off but the focus of school has changed somewhat for them. I want to spend time with them without having to do stuff with them… whereas when they were little our idea of spending time together was very much doing something together. I think that seeing the journey that homeschooling has been means that I am a little less focused on getting everything done and a lot more focused on filling my kids up with time together. A lot of fresh new potential homeschoolers ask me about new reading programs and what I am doing with my little ones… and I have to say I don’t even think about it too much, I am for more concerned that they get ample play time together in a day and that they spend a couple of minutes reading with me at the table because it is fun… than if we have ticked all the boxes on the lesson chart at the back of the book…
And the Se7en + 1th Thing…
Well I might be round, I had eight kids in just over ten years – it wrought havoc on my previously athletic body… but that’s where the roundness ends. You need to know that the only person that is assessing wether you are the best homeschool mom in the world is you… and there is no badge!!! It is not a popularity contest, and since my kids have no idea how much fun their schooling is compared to much of mine – they are never going to thank me for it. A thankless and seemingly endless task. Don’t give up, persevere, I’ll tell you why: You know how you love and adore your toddlers… they can do no wrong, even if they wake you ten times in the night it is no problem to serve them and say: “Shame they were cold, they needed a drink, whatever…” Even when your toddlers behaviour is outrageous – you still love and adore them. Well, chances are that for all the hours and hours of time you are spending with them and hanging out with them while you homeschool… there will come a time that you will look at them and say: “I like them, they are good kids.” You will want to spend time with them for who they are, because they have their own interests that they want to share with you, because they want to know about the projects that you are working on. There comes a time, and believe me it is a blink away, when you will choose to spend time with them just because you want to. I know now, that high school is that dreamy place between doing so much for your kids every second of the day and the time when they will fly out the door to conquer the world. My days with my kids are numbered… I feel them passing… and while I look forward to quiet afternoons and pottering in the garden (about twenty years from now!) I fully intend to spend my time enjoying my kids now and I for one am not wishing this time together away.
That’s it… se7en + 1 snippets… if I had to say just one thing: “Stop focusing on what you aren’t getting done – there will always be plenty of that!!! And start focusing on all the things you are doing – very often it is a lot more than we think!!!”
If you do have questions ask away, please ask away in the comments, I value your questions and will get back to you. Also I have answered a lot of homeschool questions over our years of blogging… if you click on the school button above it will take you into our school posts and you should find the answers to a lot of your questions at the end of our school collection page.