Going into my twelfth year of homeschooling with three kids, not four, because our eldest daughter, 18, just began her university social sciences program across the country. Our three youngest kids 10, 14 and 16 are at home.
Homeschooling looks a whole lot different than it did when we started. I have an entirely independent 16 year old working, dancing, singing, independently attacking her academics and killin it. My 14 year old is beginning a focussed, independent approach this year: on-line biology classes and writing efforts will get her a whole lot more focussed. Our ten year old has a natural unschooled education no matter how he approaches his education because he reads A LOT, and has a naturally logical, engineering, strategic mind.
If I’ve learned anything from parenting and homeschooling… (my unique stamp of parenting experience has been couched in the homeschool lifestyle), I’ve learned I have much to learn, about me, about other people, about learning.
As I start our new academic year, I want to squeeze a little wisdom from anyone that will offer some words. My go-to encouragement can be found in all things Julie Bogart. From her book “The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life”, I am reminded of these truths (big warm seasoned homeschool mama truths…)
“You can’t read the label when you’re inside the jar.” (The directions to our children’s hearts and futures aren’t found in an instruction manual. That manual doesn’t exist. No matter how many books, courses or therapy you utilize, there’s always something to learn. Though therapy is highly underutilized.)
“We need to acknowledge that we’re out of our depth when we create new families. Every one of us has some dysfunction — how willing are we to name it and work with it? To disembed requires stepping outside our familiar family experience to reflect on its meaning and impact on our current lives. We do it again and again–there is no “once for all time” cleansing. It’s an ongoing project, lived in a family.
The goal can’t be to create a perfect homeschool. A healthy family and homeschool foster a space where routines, habits, aspirations, and lifestyle adapt to the changing needs and wants of each member, despite occasional lapses of anger or hurting one another. Paying attention to the ordinary magic in our day to day lives can light up learning for everyone–parent and child. When we tap into that slipstream of connection and joy, we discover that life and education are the same. All we need can be found in that cocoon of love and learning. It’s a process–bumpy, unpredictable, yet wonderful one.
Homeschooling — hell, parenting — is a journey of courage into the unknown with an audacious belief that you will be enough for your children: the ultimate brave learning adventure.
You’re doing it right if you stay connected and every now and then pause in awe. Look! Those are my amazing human beings.
You only have to get it mostly right!
A good enough homeschool and family life means that you are conscious–making choices, acting with goodwill, open to change and growth. your children will forgive your mistakes if they know that they can name them and be heard, if they know you’re trying, if they feel your earnestness.
Bring on the new academic year! I’m rip roaring ready to go.