There’s no doubt about it, the homeschool mama can lose her mind with as much as ease and regularity as it’s easy and regular to discover you don’t know where the scissors are!
Where are the scissors anyway??
Here are my Principles for Homeschool Sanity for you:
1. Don’t expect to get anything “right”.
Right is not something you’ll ever get right enough.
Everyone won’t always get along. (But wouldn’t that be nice if they would?) No one ever complaining about all the cool things you’ve planned for them but they don’t care about. No one ever bickering with each other, just happily playing alongside one another. They always appreciate their siblings, recognizing that they are creating childhood memories and lifetime friendships with these very special people in their lives.
Some days you will feel like your homeschool was hijacked. Because of a surprise trip to emerg, a jarring phone call from afar, kids that just breathe fire as they pass each other in the hallway, there’s always some reason why your homeschool won’t always go smoothly. In fact, it’ll even feel like your day got hijacked.
There is no way to homeschool the right way. Just do it. Observe your kids. Plan it. Change it. Accept mistakes. Acknowledge failure. Observe again. Keep moving. Keep learning. Just like parenting.
Imagine your homeschool as a blank canvas where you get to discover what the best colours and techniques are as you continue to observe and allow your kids to paint along with you. Make a painting mistake? Continue painting. Eventually the piece will be as finished as it can be when they leave your home when they take over the painting.
But every colour can be incorporated. Every technique will benefit the greater whole.
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.Vincent Van Gogh
2. Follow their interests, but also follow yours.
You already know you can make your homeschool world easier when you follow their interests, but are you considering your interests too? Including their interests in pretty much any school subject enables your child to come alive when they learn and it’ll help you come alive too.
What can we offer them from our interests, our past training/education, podcasts we listen to, or books we read? This is why they were born into our families, so we can share ourselves, our interests and aptitudes, with them.
You won’t overhear a discussion with me and my kids about how many seats in parliament are needed for our preferred party to win a minority government, or watch free online broadway offerings in my spare time, or play math logic games. But you will hear me ask the kids to listen to Mendelsohn or watch YouTube videos on Vincent Van Gogh, or play a Professor Noggins Fine Art game or read poetry while eating scones and drinking tea.
Who says homeschool needs to focus only on the interests of the child? Homeschool can be a family affair. When a parent shares a love of a topic, that child will remember and learn. If you’re passionate about an activity, share it with your kids.
For years, I included my kids in spring planting. They planted and harvested oodles of carrots in their very own garden patch. Digging in the dirt and finding earthworms and pill beetles was a delight. Understanding soil quality and growth habits, compost development, companion planting, and squash flower fertilization: no one would have taught them these skills if they hadn’t joined in on my interests.
My husband’s interests in NFL and MLB, Canadian and American politics, Broadway theatre and presidential history have been infused my children’s education. At bedtime and breakfast, in transit or at campfire, our kids have had all manners of discussions of these topics with their dad.
No matter the interest, you can spend a few minutes a day engaging your topics of interest. When they watch you passionately engaging in your interests, they will see that learning continues throughout a lifetime.
Realize school gets in the way of an education.Mark Twain
3. Build mindful moments into your days.
Schedule an alarm in your phone (or traditional alarm clock). When that alarm goes off, pause, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself how you’re feeling.
- What are you thoughts behind your feelings.
- What might be an alternate perspective?
- How do you want to frame that challenge?
Practice being intentional with your challenges.
You have an emotional atmosphere that needs to be attended to. We have emotional reactions to those days that feel hijacked, and also to the bickering, or to a kid that gets mistreated in the park, or even getting cut off in traffic while we’re driving to piano practice. And that emotional atmosphere needs to be attended to just as we would attend to our child getting mistreated at the park.
You have other relationships that need attending to as well. And sometimes that discussion you’ve been having with your partner about that issue seems to be getting more agitating the more you discuss it. That issue needs to be settled once and for all so you can be present in your time with your kids, instead of being over there with your partner.
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”Brene Brown
Wow, deep stuff.
Seems scary to walk into the nether-regions of my psyche to discover I can be pretty insecure and fraught with internal struggle if I probe below the surface long enough.
Dig deep into it. Lean into it. Sometimes with the help of someone wise to help us wade through it and discover that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The most vital aspect of Homeschool Mama Self-Care is that we probe into our internal struggles, that we sit with the uncomfortable feelings, let ourselves allow clarity to rise from the muck. The most important important self-care strategy is to challenge the thoughts and reframe them so we can choose the most useful perspective as homeschool mamas.
Let’s turn our challenges into charms as we think on these affirming thoughts too:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”Anne Lamott
4. Don’t overthink. But plan to think.
When you’re doing homeschool, do homeschool. Once a week or once a month, spend time assessing if the general flow of your homeschool is flowing the way you want it to. Reassess and make course corrections as needed. And then continue homeschooling.
And make your thinking simpler by always returning to the question: Who are you educating? If education is a word that originates from the Latin root educator, meaning to raise up, then who are you raising up? Your specific child. So make your specific child your focus.
If I thought of an education as solely ‘in the classroom’, or ‘textbook driven’, or ‘test proven’, or ‘teacher taught,’ I would follow the system, its schedule, and its curriculum. An education includes academics, of course, but the sky’s the limit to what we could know and how we could learn it.
Google is called google for a reason, and it contains more knowledge than the most knowledgeable human might embody. Is our goal for an education to enable our children to match Google?
So waht is an education anyway?
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”Abraham Lincoln
5. Know that who you are is what your kids need.
You were placed in their world to be their mama as much as they were placed in YOUR world to your kids. They’re learning from you and you’re learning from them. All children need community, all children need to connect with other people, but you are the best advocate for your kids, because you know what I know, YOU care the most for YOUR children more than any other person the world over. You are what your kids need.
There’s nothing like an ordinary day to remind us of the miracle in the common every day…
“It’s not that unusual, when everything is beautiful
It’s just an ordinary miracle today
The sky knows when it’s time to snow
Don’t need to teach a seed to grow
It’s just an ordinary miracle today
Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you every day, open up and find a way
To give some of your own
Isn’t it remarkable like every time a raindrop falls
It’s just an ordinary miracle today
The birds in winter have their fling
And always make it home by spring
It’s just another ordinary miracle today
When you wake up every day, please don’t throw your dreams away,
Hold them close to your heart, ’cause we’re all apart
of the ordinary miracles
It seems so exceptional that things just work out after all
It’s just an ordinary miracle today.
Sun comes up and shines so bright
Disappears again at night, it’s just an ordinary miracle today.”
There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.Jill Churchill
So take in the mess, the beauty, the challenges, and the charms: enjoy your homeschool and remember what Van Gogh tells us…
Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. ”Vincent Van Gogh