Hopes And Dreams
When you first start out homeschooling, your hopes are all just dreams.
You want to do so much for your kids and you hope that where you want to go, is where you will actually end up.
Then as the years tick on, and you pass each new milestone, you start to see that homeschooling really does work. It’s not propaganda or a pie-in-the-sky ideals. Each new year brings new challenges. But as you face them with a prayerful attitude, solutions come. Then the day arrives when one graduates, and then another and you can’t believe that it’s over. Where did the years go!
What Was My Day Like 18 Years Ago
My first few years of homeschooling were filled with fear. I was always concerned that I wasn’t teaching my kids enough (although I had no yard stick for enough). My worrying made me a bit of a cranky homeschool mum because I had this constant anxiety that the lessons weren’t progressing fast enough and that I was behind – (and who defines behind.)
I remember one day when I was contemplating sending my kids to school I had organized the two oldest kids almost 6 and 7 at the time around the kitchen table to do some lessons. It was going so smoothly and the kids were learning their lessons and we were making great progress.
I was feeling really good about homeschooling – telling myself there is no need to send the kids to school – for that day the anxiety had dissipated. Instead I was congratulating myself on how well that day was going. The warm spring day put a smile on my face. The house seemed peaceful and birds were sweetly singing outside. The toddler and the preschooler had been quietly playing in the other room. But then my warm fuzzies suddenly melted as I discovered the reason for my peaceful morning. Before me stood a toddler dressed only in a nappy, who had been coloured in with Texta by her creative brother who also was colourfully marked.
And even though I see the funny side now, at the time I felt like a failure.
- I thought I’ll never be successful at homeschooling because I am a hopeless mother.
- And in order for my kids to learn I have to neglect my other children.
- I’ll never be able to teach them properly.
- My kids will be stupid.
- They won’t get into university.
- All my critics will shake their finger at me.
And the evidence was standing before me as two Picasso inspired little ones.
Shortly after that incident I gave into all those fears and tried school with my two oldest children.
Homeschooling in fear will cripple you, like it crippled me, and stop you discovering the richness of homeschooling and ultimately it will stop you giving your child a balanced education.
Homeschooling In The Middle
I confess I was very influenced by the school model in my early days, even though I had years to prepare. It took me about three years with lots of ups and downs before I changed.
It wasn’t till I brought my kids back from school the second time that I realised that my teaching methods needed to change if homeschooling was going to work.
And this is when I began my journey of learning how to teach my kids at home instead of trying to replicate school.
I realized I needed home teaching skills and just buying curriculum does not make you a good home teacher. There is a steep learning curve when you first start homeschooling. You will learn on the job and the longer you home school the better you get at working out how to do it.
But you can fast track the process if you read about homeschool methods and teaching techniques. You can educate yourself on how to teach your children. And two of my favourite authors who do this are Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason.
I really started to enjoy the journey. I became much more comfortable using curriculum as a tool and not as my taskmaster. I now felt like I was nourishing my children with a great education. As Charlotte Mason puts it, I was ‘furnishing their minds’ with living books, art and much more. I was also having a great time learning along with my kids.
My kids were developing their own gifts and talents. They were beginning to excel. It was a marvelous process to watch.
My fears were beginning to dissipate (although they reared their ugly head from time-to-time). But school ceased to be a temptation.
Each year it got a little easier, and I got back more time for myself. I turned into a coach, a cheer leader and an opportunity researcher.
Now They Have Graduated
Now 18 years have passed. It’s all over and my kids are all carving out their own career paths. All of them are glad they homeschooled. All of them are good friends. All of them have gone to university without a HSC.
Initially I panicked as my first child graduated. “I haven’t taught them everything,” I said to myself, “There is still so much to learn and they can’t even remember everything I did teach them”.
And if you asked them today, they won’t be able to discuss Middle Ages history at length, they couldn’t name all the Shakepeare plays they have studied or seen, and we won’t even talk about math formulas.
But I can see how homeschooling has shaped their character. They have inquiring minds. They have good friends. They are interested in many things. They love God and love and serve in the Church. They even help around the house. They have jobs. Homeschooling was a great choice.
Here is a quote from Amy, a homeschool mum who now homeschools her own children. “I don’t know now (and certainly didn’t fully recognize even in the past) each stroke of the chisel, each swipe of the sandpaper over my character. But those millions of words shaped and formed the way I think and what I love. The experience of being challenged by the things I learned gave me a passion for continuing to learn and question and grow that remains today.” see Humility and Doxology
I love what Charlotte Mason’s hopes for her own graduates:
“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (School Education, pages 170 and 171).
Trust the journey! Hang in there!
This post has been edited from a post originally written 3 years ago.