I often appreciate reading a whole book, like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, and just being blown away by the story in its entirety. Unbroken remains for me one of the top 10 books I’ve ever read. The fact that not only was it a true story but […]
Back when my three kids were 6 and under, my husband had transferred to a new job in Tennessee, and I was the temporary single parent trying to sell our house in Florida (while homeschooling, mind you). The ONLY way to keep our house clean for showings was to […]
There’s a stereotype of homeschoolers that “do” school every day in their pajamas. Sounds kind of great, in a way. While it may be true for some homeschool families, it rarely happened in ours. Unless, of course, someone was sick and took a detour into the schoolroom to see if Mom would make a grilled cheese sandwich, find a blanket, get more cold medicine, etc.. I’m of the mindset that actually putting on clothing prepares you to make the day happen. Still… there may be homeschoolers out there that swear doing school in their pj’s is the bomb, and one of their favorite things about being home all day.
That’s great. Awesome, Incredible. Amazing.
Because my absolute favorite thing about homeschooling is that the rules can change. Homeschooling allows such a huge degree of flexibility it’s astounding. You want to wear pajamas? Fine. You don’t? That’s fine also. You’re all sick? Well then, you can watch Johnny Tremaine with a mug of tea in hand, and say you studied history. In fact, when I was in elementary school, the entire 4th grade went to the school auditorium to watch Johnny Tremaine as part of our history studies. So why can’t I do the same thing at home? Well, I can. If a certain math curriculum isn’t making sense to your child, you can change it. Or if one child is capable of doing the same schoolwork as the next oldest child, you can accelerate their work. Or not. Homeschooling affords the flexibility to tailor school to your situation, your family, and your students.
Another terrific thing about homeschooling is that you get to be with your kids, and know them really really well. I do know people that have sworn to me that they could never be with the kids ALL. DAY. LONG. While I understand it to a degree, I truly believe that both parent/teacher and child/student grow into the relationship and proximity of it. Think of it kind of like when someone is newly married. They got married because they couldn’t imagine not being with each other, but learning each other’s habits and quirks takes some adjustment time. I am inherently tidier than my husband, and sometimes it drives me crazy, but I’ve learned to live with that personality trait, and vice versa. The same can be said for the 24-7 homeschooling situation; you may have more exposure to your kids acting like kids, but the more time you have with them, the more time you have to guide them toward maturity. Being with your kids all day long isn’t just a job; it truly is an adventure!
Likewise, because you homeschool, you can have all sorts of adventures and experiences! Beyond the normal art and science museum field trips we took, we were able to travel all across the country and call it school. We visited Plimouth Plantation and saw how the first pilgrims (one of whom was our ancestor) lived, experienced Lexington Green, Concord, the Old North Church (one if by sea, two if by land) first hand, toured Gettysburg and several other Civil War battlefields, ending at Appomattox Courthouse, where the Confederates conceded to the Union. We took an in-depth tour of Chicago, visiting the Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, neighborhoods off the “L,” and saw Jackson Pollack’s Greyed Rainbow and Suerratt’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, forever feeling at one with Ferris Bueller and his friends as they did the same. We worked with our congressman to get a special tour of Washington, DC, visited New York City shortly after September 11th, saw Broadway plays, and the pièce de résistance – took a 6 week camping trip across the Midwest, West, finishing up in the South. We experienced 13 national parks, camped with sea lions on the Pacific Coast, visited friends in Seattle, boating past Bill Gates’ house, strolled through a ghost town, and the list goes on. And on and on and on! School doesn’t have to take place in a room with 4 walls!
When you do teach within 4 walls, however, you can teach to both your children’s strengths and weaknesses. I mentioned in another post that our daughter is dsylexic, so when she learned to read, both of us were exhausted by the task pretty quickly. But because we homeschooled, we could try different methods of learning, such as tracing letters on sandpaper because sometimes brains need tactile reinforcement. To help her want to read, we used cereal boxes, magazines, toy assembly instructions, recipe cards, and more because book reading can be repetitious and boring. We did this off and on all day long; we weren’t constricted to a 6 hour period to get it “done for the day.” Conversely, one of our sons was reading by the age of 4, so he was able to read and comprehend much more advanced material throughout his education at home. Rather than sitting in a classroom with 30 other kids, bored out of his mind, we were able to continually challenge him. Each of us is unique, so it makes sense that we don’t learn in the same manner or at the same pace either. Homeschooling is an optimal way to teach each child in a way that steadily improves both their strengths and weaknesses.
While there will certainly be days that aren’t fun in homeschooling – just like in life! – it can be a wonderful way to help your kids learn more than just the 3 R’s. I will forever be glad that we had the opportunity and means to home educate our children. I loved them which made homeschooling so much easier!
After some 19 years of formal homeschooling – probably longer than that – I’ve begun to pack “it” up, sell it, give it away, or throw it out. And I find myself standing in a tempest of emotions. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the thing […]
See this picture? And the small blackish-red dot about 1/3 of the way on the right? That’s me. Ziplining about 300′ above the forest floor, and 1900′ from one end of the gorge to the other. It took more than a couple deep breaths, a few “you can do it!” mantras in my head, and one gigantic leap of faith to step off that platform.
I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I find in my life I need to let go of. Having the courage to take that step over the forest treeline is a very real analogy for “letting go,” yet absolutely nothing like the courage needed to live real life.
I suppose learning to “let go” might be a natural side effect of being a parent, but there’s more to it than that, I think. I mean, as a parent, after a point, you’re letting your children become responsible for certain aspects of their own life. And it starts pretty early, at least it did in our house. By age two or three, our kids were putting away their toys, helping set the table, cook, bring laundry to their rooms, etc… As they got older, they were in charge of more of their lives. As an example, being homeschoolers, I have always planned out each week’s worth of school work for them to do. I also break it down day by day, because for me, smaller goals seem more doable. When they were younger, I checked their work every day to make sure they had accomplished that day’s tasks. But as they got older, (and I only have one at home still) I let them figure it out. If they wanted to to finish 3 day’s worth of work in one really long day, so be it. If they have/had a lot of extra activities that week and they had to make up work on the weekend, well, that’s fine too. I have had to let go of my idea of a “perfect” plan, and slowly let them learn how to manage their own time and efforts.
But it’s not just about letting go of my perfect plan for homeschooling, it’s about giving up my vision of a perfect life, because I am sometimes overwhelmed with perfectionist tendencies, unfortunately… I am an only child, an introvert who lives my life oftentimes in my own head, or perhaps lost in the pages of a book. And because books so often have happy endings, and are at the very least, wrapped up neatly with a bow by the end, I sometimes expect that to be real life. But it’s not. Not by a long shot…
When we moved to where we currently live (and our house is for sale and we’ll be moving out of state again!), I literally was in culture shock: we had moved from Central Florida to the mountains of rural Appalachia. In Florida there were palm trees, grocery stores on every corner, warm weather, and no lack of things to do, see, or places to go. Instead, we now had giant trees that lost their leaves, a single grocery store just under a half hour away, extremely cold, gray weather, and very little to do except hike. Neighbors weren’t next door; they were 1/2 mile down the road. To go, see, or do almost anything, it was, at the very least, a half-hour drive, but usually closer to an hour. Pioneer Woman may have come to love that in her life; it didn’t work so well for me! I had to learn to live with what we had. I didn’t always, and still don’t always do that well, but I’ve had to learn to let go of my ideal life. Maybe you’ve heard that saying “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Well, it’s true. I could have spent the last 13 years crying and gnashing my teeth over where we live (and I have, at times!) but that’s not good for my family on a day to day basis. I have come to love certain things about where we are – letting my dogs roam on several acres, having a decent size garden outside my back door, and just a nice sense of privacy and quiet. But it took me a while to get here.
Likewise, our oldest has graduated college, is living in a different state, and has made some choices that directly contradict the way we raised him. I would love to magically sweep in, and cast some kind of Harry Potter spell on his life so that things would be “right.” But that’s impossible, so I have to let go. Let God, really. I mean, despite all my admonitions to him throughout his life, all the prayers I’ve lifted on his behalf, I have to let him learn the lessons God wants to teach him. Not the lessons I want to teach him. I have to be willing to let God’s plan work out the way He wants it to; not the way I want it to.
Now we cannot…discover our failure to keep God’s law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.
C.S. Lewis ~ Mere Christianity
And I guess that’s really the wonderful thing about getting older…. learning that so much of life really isn’t within our control. Learning that there is a plan greater than ourselves out there. Learning that if we just surrender, more often than not, life will actually be better than what we hoped for. Better than what we, in our limited understanding and experience, could ever envision.