Homeschooling is a tough decision, but once you get into it and decide what you think education is (or should be), and once you start to map out what you’d like for your child, it is so much fun! Sure, there are hair-pulling days, but they are usually when I’ve lost my perspective.
Most of us begin homeschooling with varying degrees of perception of what our homeschool should be. We think our homeschool should look like ‘school,’ to be taught by someone ‘qualified’ to be a ‘teacher.’ When we approach homeschooling in that way, we put unbearable pressure on ourselves and on our children. Here are a few things I’ve learned over our family’s decade+ of homeschooling:
It’s impossible to teach everything
You could teach twenty-four hours a day, and still not teach everything you want to teach, or everything you think a child should know by graduation. Even the best-rated educational institutions do not teach everything a child needs to know. It’s impossible to do so! Classes usually don’t complete a textbook. In our homeschools, also, we should not attempt to teach everything, or to complete every curriculum (the author of the curriculum stopped there, that’s all, he could certainly have kept writing on the subject!), or to read every expert-authored book. We cannot, sadly, read every beautiful book of literature that we wish to read aloud with the children.
The point is not to teach everything a child “needs” to learn by a certain age. The point is to retain the child’s love of learning so he can learn anything he wants or needs to learn to follow the path his heart, his passion, his talents, and his God wants him on.
children naturally want to learn
Our goal is to retain a child’s natural love of learning. We need to protect the child’s natural curiosity so he’ll continue to read and learn beyond what we taught him. We make sure doors are not closed to him. Whether the door be social, academic, or practical skills, he will have enough basic knowledge to understand, and the ability to learn what he does not yet know.
We cannot stop a child from learning, even if we try. But we do often stop their desire to learn. Let’s not do that by giving them only boring facts and pointless worksheets. Let’s allow the child to lead when possible, following her curiosity and guiding him toward new ideas. It is a wonderful day when a child comes to her educator with knowledge she had not been taught, but learned on her own.
homeschooling does not need to look like “school”
We need to realize that a homeschool is not to be a replica of a school. If we wanted that, we would have put them in a school. Here are a few things I’ve learned about homeschooling (your list may be vastly different!):
- Homeschool does not have to be in session from 7:45am – 2:45pm five days a week.
- Reading a comic book is still reading.
- Writing is more fun – and much more tolerable to a 4th grade boy – if he can write about his favorite subjects instead of Lincoln or photosynthesis. It is still called writing even his topic is on Minecraft.
- Going to the beach can still count as school; we will call it a “Field Trip.”
- Learning practical skills is just as important as learning academics.
- Doing housework counts as school.
- Feeding the chickens counts as school.
- Drawing pictures, even of aliens, counts as school. We’ll call it “Art Class”.
- Cooking and housework count as school.
- Math can be taught outside of a textbook by using it in chores or cooking, or as in, “Let’s feed 8 chickens with 2 cups of feed. How much feed will each chicken get?” (Oh, but we have 17 chickens….that gets harder)
- We can have school on Saturday, if we want, and not on Tuesday.
- A bad day is still a school day, because something is learned every day even on bad days.
your homeschool is *your* homeschool
To let go of our old, difficult, impossible perception of homeschooling, we must ask ourselves two questions: What is homeschooling? At its core, it is simply offering an education from home. What is the ‘right’ way to homeschool? If you ask a dozen people, you’ll get at least a half dozen different answers.
A homeschool – your homeschool – is what you choose it to be. Perhaps your homeschool setting is a warm family home environment, meeting others once a week in shared classes, and letting the children lead in their learning. Or perhaps homeschooling to you is a dedicated learning space, a rigid schedule, a planned curriculum, and all things orderly.
Put on blinders and let homeschooling be what you need it to be. Don’t worry over what someone else thinks your homeschool should look like — it is yours, not theirs. Don’t allow yourself to perceive you’re doing it ‘wrong.’ If you feel convicted, change that area, but if you simply feel unhelpful guilt – let that go! I firmly believe God gave these kids to you (no matter how you came to be in charge of them), because He thinks you’re the right one to guide this child. Believe it!