“I am pulling my son out of second grade tomorrow, and I don’t know where to start.”
“We are thinking about homeschooling our kids in the fall, and I need to know what curriculum to buy for a fifth grader?”
“I’ve got to get my junior out of school — she is miserable. How can I make sure she gets her Algebra credits?”
You are out there — moms who have made a decision to homeschool — and you are not alone. Some of you agonize over it for weeks and months, a few have to make a rushed decision because of a bad situation at school.
You may be scared and unsure and wondering if you are going to ruin your kids by doing this.
Let me tell you right now, you are not.
But I know that is a hard thing to take at face value. So let me give you five things to keep in mind to help you on your journey:
1. You do not need to be a “professional” teacher to teach your child.
Anyone who tells you that you can’t is just protecting their own job security. I taught for seven years. I was the new teacher of the year for the seventh largest school district in the entire country.
I was considered a good teacher, which basically meant I was good at managing a classroom, content delivery to a group using a prescribed set of rules, and organizing lesson plans.
Yet I have learned so much more about teaching since I left the “profession.” My college courses only taught me the version of education the current establishment wanted me to know. They never touched on the myriad of other, older and more time-tested methods of education like the classical model or the Charlotte Mason Method. My professional development was woefully incomplete.
Since leaving teaching, I have homeschooled myself on how to be a better teacher. I read books, listen to audio lectures, watch TED talks, attend conventions, and even participate in a form of peer review with other homeschool moms.
You can do it too! Anything you really want to learn, you can find out for yourself — no Degree required. And that includes how to be a better teacher.
2. You will like being around your kids much more than you think you will
Yeah, I know that fear is probably rattling around in the back of your head. You are dedicated to doing what is best for your child, but you secretly wonder if you will be able to stand to be around them all day.
I know the question is there, because you know the number one thing people tell me when they find out I homeschool? All together now homeschool moms: “I could never stand being around my kids all day.”
I am not going to lie, there are days that it are harder to do. There are days these sweet little monsters drive me up the wall. I tell people that I love homeschooling my kids in the macro sense if not always in the micro sense.
We are human — fallen and in need of grace. So yeah, it’s going to happen. But let me let you in a little secret — the kid you homeschool will be totally different from the kid you deal with during the homework hour(s) each night.
That kid, the one who drives you crazy every.single.evening (stop please and think about how sad this really is) has bottled up almost every emotion all day long in order to ensure his own survival.
He is tired from constant social interaction and stimulation. He is tired from hours of holding his growing body still in a desk and struggling to overcome distractions. He is tired from having to perform tasks that have little meaning and relevance. He is tired because activities ran late last night, and the bus came early this morning. And he knows you are a safe outlet for his tiredness and frustration. Even if he lets loose on you, you are going to continue to love him.
I see the worst of my kids, sure. But I also see the best of them. I see ALL the good moments, the lightbulb moments of understanding and the sweet moments of compassion to another human.
Yes, they still save their worst for me, because I am that safe harbor, but I also get their best — their funniest, their smartest, their most creative. And I get it every day.
3. School doesn’t have to look quite so school-y.
Please, right now, banish the image from your mind of your child sitting neatly in a chair, pencil in hand, filling in the pages of a workbook for eight hours a day. It’s not realistic. It’s not necessary. And if you try it you guys will end up fighting like cats and dogs before the second day is over.
Let me tell you a secret. No matter what you have seen, eight hours a day of productive work doesn’t even happen in schools. Not even close.
Learning can happen in so many places and can look so different from what we have been lead to believe. Learning can happen on the floor, the porch, the couch, the backyard, the museum, the kitchen counter, the car, even the park.
It can take the form of a workbook (they do have their place), a good book to share, an audio book or lecture, a video, an experiment, a project, or even just a conversation. Learning can even be initiated by your own child and not something that you have prescribed for the day.
4. It isn’t a race — really!
If you take your kid from school on Friday don’t feel compelled to start homeschooling on Monday. Take a day off. Take a week off. Take off two — I give you permission!
Get your bearings. Go to the library, check out a stack of interesting books, and for the first few weeks just read to each other. Talk about the good bits. Try one of the experiments. Look on the internet for more information. Go grocery shopping. Make brownies and double the recipe. Email someone about your exciting new life.
Oh my goodness! Do you see what you just did? You did math and writing and discussion and reading and literature and learned about all kinds of things from those books. You are not behind!
Behind whom, I ask you? Learning is not a race. The only way you fail at education is to stop doing it when you turn eighteen. The only finish line to a life well-learned is dying, folks.
5. Every day is a do-over.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret right now — you are going to have some hard days. There are going to be tears — yours and theirs. Why?
Because you both care so much about what you are doing, and you care about pleasing each other. Because learning new things stretches us and is hard sometimes. Because someone didn’t get enough sleep or woke up on the grumpy side of the bed.
Some days it may get so bad that it is just better to let it go for the day. Run outside to play! And you can, because the sun will come up the very next morning and you get a fresh start, a chance to try again. An opportunity to forgive and be forgiven.
Repeated tears or bad days need to be addressed with a change in tactics, but for the most part, the tough times disappear with the sunrise, and you get the chance to try things again. Embrace it with a fresh attitude, a willing smile, a bit of silliness and tackle the task one more time.
You CAN do this new homeschool mom!
The number one factor that will determine your success is your motivation to succeed. If you WANT to be a good teacher to your kid, and are willing to do the hard work necessary to make it happen, then you will be successful. They will be successful.
It’s that simple, because it’s really not that hard. (So profound I know, but so true.) Your love for your child and your desire to overcome obstacles will drive you to find the self-education or outside resources you need to make sure your child learns.
And that, homeschool mom, is the only thing you really need to know after all.
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