When I first thought about homeschooling, I envisioned happy children, eagerly learning from the vast array of materials I would lovingly provide for them. Crafts, field trips, music lessons, our world of home education would be glorious. They’d excel at everything, all veritable geniuses and perfectly behaved children, and my home would be filled with the sounds of children’s laughter, the smell of home-made meals, and always neat before my husband came home.
I don’t know whose children I thought I’d be homeschooling, but it evidently wasn’t mine. I also seemed to believe that homeschooling would cause me to have a complete personality change.
Needless to say, I’m the same woman I’ve always been, just with the added responsibility of educating my children.
If my inherent personality flaws weren’t enough, then LIFE had to happen.
Winds of change have gusted through our life, some wonderful (new babies) some ill (chronic pain disability, job loss). I’ve had people ask, half in awe, half in horror, how I can possibly keep homeschooling through it.
How? I don’t know. I just do. I have what I call “Dory days,” those days when all you can do is keep swimming. Not that you seem to be actually getting ahead in any way, shape or form, but motion, even if it’s not seeming to get you closer to your goal, is better than complete inertia.
The fact that I’m more stubborn than the average definitely helps. The fact that my children have inherited this trait is a mixed bag. It depends on if they’re with me, or against me. Tazzie, our soon to be nine-year old, deciding that he can’t read, doesn’t like reading, doesn’t want to read, absolutely has been working against me, but I’m more stubborn than he is. I think.
One thing I’ve absolutely had to do is pack up my idea of what ‘should be’ and deal with ‘what is’. A curricula that I thought would be wonderful just didn’t work for my kids. My careful plans were shredded by chaos. I’ve had to learn flexibility, patience, and to quit daydreaming of dumping my kids on the steps of the local public school, yelling, “They’re yours now!” and fleeing, cackling wildly.
For me, it’s the small accomplishments that keep me going. For example, Princess, our seven-year old, finally *getting* how this whole phonics gig works gets me through trying to teach Tazzie long division. His constant cries of, “I don’t geeeeeet iiiiittttttt!” and the wash, rinse, repeat, of showing him, yet again, how it works. If it wasn’t for the bright moments of what I think of as “the Click,” I’m honestly not sure how I would manage, but I suspect it wouldn’t be in completely socially acceptable ways. I know they’ll get there, eventually, though. After all, the Grand Canyon started out as a river over some rocks, right?
I have some good friends who just awe me with their homeschooling. Honestly, they intimidate me too. I think we all have those folks in our lives, who from the outside seem to have it altogether. They’re who we want to be when we grow up: we want to parent like them, teach like them, keep house like them.
The reality of that is, they’d probably be completely horrified by the idea.
And that right there, folks, is the true secret of homeschooling. There’s not a single one of us that’s convinced we’re doing this all right. There’s not a homeschooling family that hasn’t made some compromises along the way, who’ve had to identify what their priorities really are, and let other things slide. We can’t do it all, and we need to be honest with ourselves about that. We need to give ourselves grace. This is especially important when challenges hit. And challenges *will* hit, no matter who you are. They may be huge, such as relocating, job loss, health issues. They may be small, such as folks wandering around in bathing suits in the winter because laundry hasn’t been done in recent memory, or having toast and cereal for supper for the third time in a week because all available kitchen work space is consumed with science and art projects.
Having a sense of humour, giving yourself grace, and being patient and kind to yourself are survival skills when it comes to homeschooling. These are also valuable life skills to give your children, giving them a cornerstone for their future that’s as necessary as math and reading.
(This article is published by StS with permission from Melissa Charles) Melissa, more commonly known as ‘Mom’ or ‘Imp’, hails from Canada. She spends her day Wife-ing to ‘Wolf’, and Mom-ing ‘Diva’, ‘Tazzie’, ‘Princess’, ‘Toddler Terror/Boo’ and the newest addition to the minion roster, ‘Cubby’.
When not home educating, attempting to control the chaos that is every day life, and dodging bears and deer, she can be found blogging one armed at Not A Stepford Life