You are writing lesson plans. You are also planning meals. Planning field trips. Cooking meals. Shopping (usually with all the kids in tow). Picking up (again and again and again…when you homeschool, your home is continually occupied, so it is never really “together”). Vacuuming. Perhaps you “work at home” (on top of the other work, that is!). Dishes. Snacks. You might rarely see other adults. More snacks. Art lessons (with glue and glitter…oy). Maybe you are also a soccer mom, or you have piano lessons to drive to. Maybe you are dealing with a chronic illness, or you have children challenged with a disability. You may have even more “hats” that you wear. And you still need to “save the best of your energy” for your husband, on top of it all.
And now you have that stack of curriculum before you. You wonder if you have the best. You wonder if you’re covering it all the way you should. Are you missing something? Is your child being cheated in his or her education? How will you get the whole book done by the end of the year? What if you skip a page in that workbook, or you don’t have the whatchamacallit for that experiment? What if that cool thing that other family is doing is something you should be doing too? Before you know it, life is one big “Squirrel!” moment. Oh dear.
More isn’t necessarily better. It has been helpful for me to think of the educational experience as a smorgasbord. In the process of meeting the academic requirements for your state or region, you place SO much before your child. All sorts of literature and writing resources, maths, sciences, history, social studies, health, physical education, and electives. This is about so much more than grades. This is about paying attention to your child’s niche. We expose them to all of this varied disciplines and directions, but purposefully. We are trying to get their pulse. Some subjects they will tolerate, some they’ll barely survive sometimes. But then we’ll see it. The sparkle. The passion. Dissections. Still life painting. Persuasive speeches. Story writing. Foreign language. Whatever it is. There will be that something that is it. We can give that thing the direction it needs. “All” is not the answer. People simply don’t excel at “all”…why would we expect a child to?
So, now what?
Remind yourself why you are doing this. Write down those reasons. It’s important. Because when the “I simply can’t do this anymore” days come along, you can go back to those grounding truths. Why did you decide to homeschool?
Then. Step back from the noise. Believe me, I know what this means. I have a group of 4,500 homeschoolers on Facebook, and they are repeatedly listing what they do, what they bought, what they are planning. It used to really jangle my nerves and cause me to question myself. I had to find my own groove.
How do you find a groove for yourself? First, know your kids. Know what their learning styles are. Know what yours is. If those two things don’t jive, you will have to re-educate yourself on how to teach them. Find out what your kids love. What are they interested in? What weaknesses need to be developed? What strengths have you seen? Math whiz? Writing genius? Artistic or musical flair? We have the luxury of tailoring our educational approach in order to nurture these things! How great is that??
So, that’s enough homework for now.
- Know why you are doing what you are doing. Write it down.
- Understand how you learn.
- Find out how your children learn best.
- Spend time observing your kids, and investigating what makes them tick. Let it influence your teaching and materials. We’ll talk more about this in a later post.
- When you step on another Lego, get yet another request for a snack, and struggle to juggle laundry loads –how many have I forgotten? Too many to count!–between creating timelines, mummifying chickens, and compiling bug collections, stop. Realize what a blessing it is that we still have the freedom to DO this in our country. You don’t have to miss any milestones. You get a front row seat for ALL the “Aha!” moments. You get to watch every bit of the blossoming process. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Positively.