Hello, new homeschool mom,
WELCOME to homeschooling! Take a breath and sit in this moment where everything is new. Now, before you begin panicking and wondering, “what have I gotten myself into?” take another deep breath and know you have this.
There are a million different resources- thousands of different companies- and so many other families who have made the same choice you are making for your family right now. With all of that information easy to find, right there are your fingertips, you will begin to feel overwhelmed.
So take this moment to step back and write down somewhere, “Why is this the best choice for your child?”
Everyone's reasons will be different. Everyone's families are different. What works for your friend who has been homeschooling forever and what works for you will be different. Not BETTER – just DIFFERENT. Hold your vision for your child loosely- because it will change and grow. They will change and grow, YOU will change and grow.
Now- First thing is first.
You need to develop the culture of your family's learning. I say “families” with intention. When I started my journey, I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like. I envisioned cozy conversations in my living room. I even bought a coffee pot that was insulated, so I could sip hot coffee while my children sat with me gathered at the table, in the living room snuggled on the sofa, or cuddled on my bed for a read-aloud.
I had my dear husband build me a homeschool table and even created a room in our home for homeschooling materials and learning.
Each child had a crate for their very helpful school supplies that they could find at a moment's notice. I had a schedule. I went to my first homeschooling conference with a wheeled crate for all the curriculum I was going to buy- and a fresh new notebook to keep all of my helpful learning in. (I do need to admit my notes were beautiful) I had this! I had a schedule, it was going to be great.
Then… In about 1 hour I spilled my coffee all over the $200 worth of curriculum I had just purchased.
The curriculum that was going to develop and grow my super-smart children into whatever their little hearts wanted to be. I don’t believe in omens, but I could have taken it as a sign for sure.
All it took was 2 weeks before the schedule was also spilled on. After getting poked with the very sharp Ticonderoga pencil (homeschooling mom must) in the first week as I collapsed onto the couch in exhaustion and frustration, I remember tears.
The beautiful table that my husband built for us and the crates meant to hold all of the necessary supplies soon became catch-alls for everything but school supplies.
One beautiful day I had enough.
I sent the kids outside and told them to build a primitive structure- use their imaginations. (can anyone guess what I was using for history?). I frantically called a friend confessing to her that I had lost my mind, I can’t homeschool my kids. They aren’t doing what I want them to do at all. Surely, they would be learning more in public school.
During this conversation- one child comes in and asks if they can pillage the recycling bin. Vaguely I realize they don’t understand the assignment. Deep sigh- “Sure- whatever.” My friend asks me, “What are they doing right now?” and I tell her- she chuckles and says, “No- they are working together. Remember how frustrated you were that they were fighting all the time? Are they fighting right now?”
Of course, I am paraphrasing here- but that was the gist.
After a bit of calming down, encouragement, and my friend reminding me what I really cared about my girls came running in to show me what they have created.
As I followed my giggling group outside, I realize that they did understand the assignment better than I had. They taught me what actually mattered to OUR FAMILY- and I knew what they had actually accomplished was way bigger than the lesson I had envisioned for that day. The lesson that I could just move to the next day is on my plan. They had created the magical world of ‘Fairyvania” together. They had stories about how their little village worked. How they collected water and even a little bit about the way their fairy society functioned.
More importantly- they had worked together to accomplish something, not in my plans.
At that moment I resolved to hold all of my plans very loosely and be at peace with an imperfectly perfect family. To make room for my children's imaginations and personal growth- and to apologize to them when I mess up and have expectations that really are not their problem.
I decided to focus on the culture I wanted to create for our family. So dear new homeschooling mom. Welcome to this new thing, your family is doing. Embark on this adventure. It will be a swerve-y, bumpy, roller coaster ride. But it is all your family!!! Doing it together is the point.