My mom tells me when I went off to kindergarten, I didn’t even look back at her. I marched right into school without hesitation. I was ready for school and I was excited about it. That mental picture is often how I approach things. I may not know what I’m doing, but I’m willing to try. I assume that I can do it until I find my limits.
On the other hand, my daughter has a different assumption. She assumes she can’t do it, often before she even tries. Parenting this assumption often perplexes me. I’ve tried different approaches to get her to do something. When she was little, rewards often motivated her, but they didn’t always work. When she was learning to swing, she was convinced she couldn’t do it. After coaching and encouraging her, I found myself not pushing the swing anymore. She kept saying, “I can’t do it”. Even when she was swinging all by herself, she didn’t believe she could do it. After several excited exclamations of “You did it” her discouragement turned into excitement. She realized she could swing all by herself.
When it came to the school decision, I explored all options. We live in a great public school district, so I went and visited and began the registration process. As I was at the school and I pictured my little girl there, something didn’t set right. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I knew that homeschool was a good option, but I didn’t know if I could do it.
I had always considered homeschool as a great idea, but I questioned my ability to be the sole provider to my child’s education. I stressed and worried over what school would look like for her…what it should look like. Then after some praying, I realized what she needed most was for that “I can’t do it” assumption to be challenged. She needed more focused time with me. She needed to be homeschooled. My hesitations were thoughts of “Can I do this? What if I can’t?” Ironically, my hesitations were the same thoughts that kept my daughter from believing she could swing. Here was my first official lesson…I needed to just try homeschool in order for me to become a believer that I could actually be a homeschooling mama.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my first year of homeschooling:
- It is a sacrifice of your time. When other moms are meeting for lunch and going shopping while the kids are in school, you will be implementing lesson plans, doing craft projects, and wondering when you will get ‘me’ time.
- There is no perfect curriculum. The choice of curriculum can be a major point of stress. Just when you think you have found the best out there, you will hear about another one and wonder if it is better.
- Find homeschooling support. Whether it is a tutorial, a co-op, or even an on-line support group, finding others on a similar journey is a wonderful resource. We are part of a tutorial that has made homeschooling so much more doable. I not only have some subjects covered, I also have a community of people to learn from who are on the homeschool journey.
- Plan fun activities. In the midst of pushing lesson plans out of fear that she would fall behind, I often would forget that one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is getting the chance to enjoy my child’s learning process, not just direct it. Just remember, even kids in schools go on field trips and do crafts too.
- Cater homeschooling to what best suits your family – this applies to the curriculum, the social activities, and to the environment. Some people like doing class at the dining table, while others need a designated room with desks, either way, do what works best for your family. There is no right or wrong–just what works for you!
- Follow your state’s homeschooling guidelines. One of my biggest fears is that my child would fall behind inadvertently. Even though homeschool gives you lots of freedom, it’s important to keep records, file paperwork, and test according to your state’s guidelines. This becomes especially important in high school. Just remember we want our child’s education to give them opportunity not hold them back.
This past year has been a learning and growing season for us both. At times homeschool is a pure delight, and there are times when homeschool is incredibly challenging. When it came time to decide what we were going to do this year, I included her in the discussion. Knowing that she had no concept of other options, I painted public school as this wonderful place to learn and make lots of friends. When I asked her if she wanted to try it, she quickly said she wanted to learn with mommy. I knew in my heart that we were just getting the hang of homeschool, so it wasn’t time to try something else. This year we will continue our homeschooling journey. I don’t know how long we will homeschool, and I am not one to claim that homeschool is the only way. My philosophy is to “assess every child, every year”. Their needs and desires change as fast as they grow. If you are considering homeschooling but are afraid, I encourage you to take the plunge. You may just surprise yourself. Homeschool is not for every family, but it is right for my family….at least this year.
Have you considered homeschooling? If you homeschool, what factors contributed to your decision?