I’ve been around long enough to hit the wall twice.
Hit the wall, meaning, I was ready to put my kids into school. That says a lot for someone that is a home education advocate to the core.
But I didn’t put them in school. Self-reflection revealed I wasn’t frustrated with homeschooling, I was frustrated with my kids, which really meant I was frustrated with how I was relating to them, and also my unrealistic expectations of myself and them.
I held on. I refocused my energy and intentions — what did I really want for me and my family?
There is so much opportunity for self-reflection on this homeschool journey. And so many lessons learned.
Ten lessons I’ve learned in my ten years:
1. Homeschooling really is an amazing educational and family life option. It’s a whole lot of parenting, but I continue to scream from the mountaintops, “IF YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU SHOULD DO THIS!”
2. Mama self-care is a requirement, not an option. Sometimes I need to be in my house alone. Sometimes I need to do yoga quietly, or meditate with headphones in my ears, drink a cup of morning coffee without interruption or go outside to do chores for nature therapy. Down time moments are required when you’re a homeschool mama. Self-care is required.
3. I can influence my children, but I cannot control them. Somehow, knowing that they come out of you means you should be able to give them whatever you think they need, provide for them, convince them what you know to be true, dictate their path, and yet, and yet….there comes a time, say eleven, or thirteen, or definitely by fifteen, where they exercise their ‘independence muscles’ and declare “I’m gonna decide or do or think for myself.” And that was just the way it was meant to be. In good relationship, I can always still influence them.
4. Academics are not synonymous with education. Even in a homeschool. Most challenging thing ever is to get over the notion that formal studies is an education but sitting on a computer learning chess maneuvers is not. Prescribed science experiments are an education, but slime making is not. Watching soccer YouTube how to’s is an education, but watching FIFA isn’t. (Go England!) Learning to edit and create YouTube make up videos is not, but reading anything from the Sonlight reading list is. What is an education anyway?
5. I will, indeed, have to answer the age old question into eternity, or at least for as long as I am homeschooling, or ever share in the future that I once did homeschool: “Are they socialized?” I am ultimately being asked if my children are being cared for. Glad the public cares. (But general public, when you tell me I have such lovely children, but follow up with a concerned, ‘but do they ever leave the confines of your home?’ you got to ask ‘how do they be nice, except that they socialize to learn to be nice’) Sigh.
6. I may have been the greatest educational recipient in our homeschool world. Geography, philosophy, American history, geology, arithmetic, romance languages, this paragraph could go on and on. My education has been an adult-sized shot in the arm.
7. There is no way to homeschool ‘the right way’. Just do it. Observe others. Plan it. Change it. Accept mistakes. Acknowledge failure. Observe your kids. Keep moving. Keep learning. Just like parenting.
8. I know a lot, and I’ll never know enough, and I don’t need to. The kids will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it, if I haven’t already taught them, or found them resources. Gaps are in everyone’s education. Everyone’s. The end product of my child is not to become God or Google. Life is learning. And continues to be long after they live in my home.
9. I am seasonally interested in homeschool academics. Somewhere between September and December I love formal academics. Somewhere between Christmas and Valentine’s, I am fading in interest. I faded, and am holding on, in February. I decide unschooling is the way to go by May. By July, we’re waking up late on no schedule whatsoever. But just a couple months later, we all declare we should get to formal academics!
10. It’s not a cliché: The days are long, but the years are short. We recently graduated our first child, our seventeen year old daughter. Such a pretty baby, and walking down the mall hallway I wondered why everyone wasn’t greeting her. Good thing she was cute, because she didn’t sleep, and she cried a lot. It was an overwhelming start to parenthood. There have been plenty of challenges since then. Now that she’s walking the bridge to adult independence, I can see that these years have been very, very short.