Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homeschooling Expectations

I just got out of the shower. With those few minutes, I got to thinkin'. That can be scary. In this case, I hope that it's helpful.

Recently, I've talked with several moms that are really frustrated in homeschooling. This post could be made into a series, but I'm going to try and whittle this down a bit. Homeschooling comes down to expectations. Here are few that I hope gives you some freedom in your messy homeschooling life.

1. Let go of having a neat, organized, cute house. You should have maps on the walls, science experiments in the sink and dirty laundry in the corner. Homeschooling makes for a fluid lifestyle, but also messier than a traditional schooling path.

2. Let go of some of your parenting expectations for your younger ones. Maybe you don't want your children watching lots of tv. But, when you are homeschooling 2 and have 2 still in diapers, 30 minutes of movie watching for the younger ones just might add years to your life. Put on things like Scholasitc book read alouds, StoryNory, Baby Einstein, Cedarmont Kids, Story Line Online, or get an external mouse and let them do Starfall. If you don't own any of these things, there's this old fashioned thing called a library that has modern things like DVDs and audio books. There are tons of options now.

3. Let go of your social calendar. If you think you can engage in homeschooling and still maintain an active social calendar, you are setting yourself up for frustration and resentment. Maybe pick one or two nights a month where you can get together with girlfriends. That way, you can be excited to anticipate that night and you can settle into a homeschooling schedule with no resentment.

4. Let go of comparing to other people. Maybe you will be super creative homeschooling mom. Maybe not. Figure out your giftings and cater your school schedule to that. Maybe you are really organized or love to teach through song. Don't compare with other moms or blogs. You will feel like a failure. Every time.

5. Be choosy about your curriculum. If your friend is using ABC curriculum and loves it and tells you that her kids already know all the Latin roots and are balancing chemical equations at age 6, then more power to 'em. Find a curriculum that you can teach from. Period. You can adapt them to your individual kids later. Otherwise you will be frustrated and clueless because the teacher's manual makes no sense. Cathy Duffy's book "100 Top Picks for Homeschool" is a great place to start looking. She helps you weed through personality styles of both teacher and student and lines you up with curriculums that might work for your situation.

6. If your kids are young, let go of teaching 7 subjects at one time. Do math, reading and phonics. That's it. If you are really into music theory or art history and just can't bare the thought of not teaching your 5 year old these things, then go for it. For the rest of us, keep it simple. Your child will not end up homeless and on parole if they don't study ancient Egypt in first grade. Make history, science, art, music, those things you do life on life. While making juice for lunch, explain how to make ice. Science...done. When Dad goes on a business trip, pull out a map and show them where he's going. Geography...done. These are some of the benefits of homeschooling and relating all day with your kids.

7. Silence your email, twitter, and cell phone during homeschool. If your husband calls, answer it. For everyone else...they can wait.

8. The first few years are the hardest. Balancing mom/teacher with your child is hard. Pray, seek counsel, ask for forgiveness, and learn together. There are some days that it is sheer grit and determination that get us through our schooling time. Push through and be consistent.

Wow, there's a ton that I could write here, but this is a good start. Homeschool is such a hard, joyful, disastrous, glorious pursuit. But, getting to invest in your kids like this can be a blessing both to you and your child. At the very least, it is sanctifying :).
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