It’s hard to believe we’re wrapping up our third year of homeschooling! While I’m certainly not at “veteran” status yet, I’m definitely not a newbie anymore, either. Here are five lessons I’ve learned about homeschooling this year:
1) Find what works for you, then do it.
(Also known as: Skip the comparisons.)
Maybe you’ll be lucky and your philosophy of education will line up with your teaching style, your child’s personality/learning style, and your family culture–but that’s pretty rare. You’ll find yourself making all sorts of compromises, I promise. Here are a few of mine:
- I’m a strong believer in play-based learning for young children, but my girls (who happen to be auditory learners) also memorize extremely easily, which means that some classical forms of educating have snuck into our curriculum.
- I would love for them to be in nature as much as possible, but we live in an apartment, so our outdoor adventures require some planning.
- Part of me would secretly be thrilled if our children were “gifted” in some academic, creative, or athletic pursuit–but I don’t want to sacrifice their childhoods to get there. I feel guilty that they aren’t doing extracurricular music/sports, and then I remember they are 6 and 3 years old.
It’s hard not to feel like the “odd one out” sometimes, but the simple fact is: you gotta do what works for YOU and the people you love. Don’t worry about everyone else.
2) Find your “tribe” and build them up.
As mentioned above, every family is going to homeschool a little bit differently than the people around them. Talk to everyone you meet and search for common ground. Some of my favorite mom-friends are doing this schooling thing differently (private schools, charter schools, public schools–oh my!), but I know I can count on themfor intelligent discussions about education and encouragement when days are hard. If you don’t have local moms to lean on, RUN to the Internet and find a blog, podcast, or Facebook group that brings you joy.
3) Build in margin.
We hear so much about our children being “unsocialized” that we are tempted to fill all of our hours with activities. I’m guilty of it, for sure! Whether we genuinely believe that all of these options are beneficial for our children or we just don’t want to feel left out when the group pictures are posted on Facebook, there is so much good to be found in being home more. Children need unstructured time to play and be bored, they need to rest their bodies and their minds, and they need parents who are not stressed all of the time.
The last few weeks, I’ve noticed how often my girls ask, “Are you mad?” as they try to determine my mood. Maybe I’m driving in traffic or rushing around the house–whatever it is, they are picking up on my lack of margin. Do I want to rush my girls from one activity to the next, missing the snail crossing the sidewalk or the lizard who lives in the bush by the window? In a word–no.
4) Say yes more.
(This comes as a direct result of building in margin.)
“Can we paint today?” YES!
“Can we play with the water table, even if it’s raining?” YES!
“Will you read this to me?” YES!
Childhood is fleeting. Don’t miss it because of things that don’t really matter!
5) Remember why you’re doing this in the first place!
If you have not written a family mission statement, I strongly suggest you go do that now. If you have written one, are you regularly reading it and referring to it before you make homeschooling decisions? Do your reasons for homeschooling need to be updated to reflect your growing child(ren)? Is your spouse still on board?
The number one mantra that I will take away from this school year is this: change is not failure. It’s okay to try new groups, new activities, new curriculums. It’s okay to consider if school is a better option for this child, right now.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.Winston Churchill
What lessons have you learned about homeschooling?
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