by SarahMae | May 3, 2013 7:53 am
I finally, finally enjoy homeschooling.
After failed attempts, neglect, tons of curriculum, comparing, sage advice, and a settling in, I can finally say I enjoy homeschooling. Thank God. Because I was starting to think about how I could save to send my babes to private school.
My heart’s desire has always been to homeschool; I loved the idea of learning with my children, filling their minds with beautiful things, being with them as they learn about the world, and choosing what they study, based on what I thought was best and what suited their personality and bents. The problem? I didn’t take it seriously enough. I had built up an ideal (sort of like I did with motherhood), and it all came crashing down. I learned that homeschooling wasn’t easy, or always fun, and that it takes discipline, consistency, and hard work (all of which I lack, and all of which are obvious…except to me). I also compared myself with other homeschool moms that I admired, which just about did me in. I would look at pictures and read posts about their craft-filled, lap-book-filled days and feel like a loser, totally inadequate to homeschool my babes.
Some of you may have felt that way about me.
The truth is, it’s been an uphill battle for me. I can be lazy and unmotivated and undisciplined. I also fear too much: “What if she hates homeschooling? What if I push her too hard? What if I don’t push her enough?” I am a seriously neurotic mother. But I am teachable, and I have heart, lot’s of heart, and I want to be with my babes as they learn. So I’ve had to learn a few things, I’ve had to discipline myself, and I’ve had to serve hot chocolate to get Ella to smile while she does her work.
Some of you are struggling to enjoy homeschooling. Some of you are comparing yourselves with other moms, and some of you are barely hanging in there. I don’t have the wisdom of a seasoned homeschool mama, but I do have a few things for those of you who might need some encouragement to keep going.
Do you really want to homeschool? Do you feel that’s where the Lord has led your family? Is your husband on board with it? It’s going to be pretty difficult to enjoy homeschooling if you feel like you have to do it, or your husband doesn’t want you to, or whatever other reason. You homeschool because you feel that’s what you’re called to do, and there is a desire in you to do it.
Break out of the mindset that homeschooling must only be done one way, or that it needs to follow a school model. Find what works for you as a family! Maybe that is a school model, or maybe it’s homeschooling in the evening, or at a park in the middle of the day. Maybe it’s two hours of work a day, maybe it’s five. Maybe it’s field trips and living books, or text books and desks. Maybe your husband does the homeschooling. Every family will have a style of their own, and that’s great! Find yours, and go with it!
I really think that a big reason parents give up on homeschooling is because they feel inadequate due to comparing themselves with others. It’s one thing to stop homeschooling if you feel the Lord leading you somewhere else, but it’s another to stop because you are comparing yourself with another mom or homeschooling lifestyle. You have your own unique personality and bents and limitations and strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what your strengths are, and move in confidence in those areas. If you know you struggle with not feeling like you’re good enough to homeschool after reading certain blogs, just stop reading them! There are wonderful bloggers out there that I cannot read on a regular basis because I know my weakness (and sinful tendency) is to compare myself with them. When I compare, I get in a funk, everything all of a sudden feels overwhelming and hopeless, and I want to throw in the towel. But when I’m walking free in how the Lord made me, and when I put blinders on and keep focused on where the Lord is guiding us, I’m okay, and in fact, I’m happy. I love our family and where we’re at with homeschooling, and I want to stay in that place. I want you know find that sweet spot as well.
We all need support, and we all need grace. Find friends or a co-op or a mentor (or all of those things) who homeschools or has homeschooled to encourage you on the journey. Having supportive people in your life will help tremendously in persevering.
I called Sally just about in tears of frustration one day and said, “Ella is always complaining about her work! I don’t know what to do!” Sally said, “You need to sit down with her and tell her that this is what we do, every day, Monday through Friday. School work is non-negotiable.” Well, I did what she said, and what do you know, it worked! I sat down my sweet Ella and gently but firmly laid out for her the fact that we will be doing school work every day. We talked about why, we talked about our attitudes, and I agreed to hot chocolate (see below).
My Ella gets through her school work by having some sort of treat half way through. In the winter, it was hot chocolate. Sometimes it’s tea, currently it’s just a snack of some sort. Find something that brings your child a smile during their work time.
For real, have fun! Go places, dance, sing at the top of your lungs, go on field trips, make your own schedule, talk, live, create, and relax! Your babes can be your crew – do life with them. Remember, homeschooling is just living life and learning together.
As Sally Clarkson says, “Read to your children a ton, have them around adults, and listen to good music. If you do these things, they’ll be brilliant.” 😉
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