Last year, I was full of hope and questions and uncertainty as we embarked on our first year of homeschool. I had NEVER intended to educate my kids at home, but our plans for life don't always work out the way we think they will and when that happens I have learned to roll with it and figure out another route. So, last year happened.
There were days that I yelled and shut myself in my room for a few minutes of quiet to collect myself and put my emotions in check, but there were also days that we all flourished and laughed and learned and explored and went on adventures and accomplished everything on that day's lesson plan. And those are the days that I cling to, knowing it can be good and happy and successful.
Really, it's just like parenting, with good and bad days, which I've been doing for 10 years now. So, it turns out I've got experience with this kind of gig.
For me – and my kids – it was a year of learning and growing and adjusting. I learned a lot about myself and my kids. There were some things I expected and other things I did not. There were good parts and bad parts. And there was freedom. I really do love freedom – freedom from other's schedules, other's rules, other's expectations, other's tests and measurements and other's judgment.
So, here's what I learned and what I'll do differently and things that I'll keep on doing just as we did last year.
(I like lists)
- I learned to cut myself some slack if we don't accomplish everything on a day's lesson plan. There's always tomorrow….because usually that meant we got caught up in some discussion of a topic or person that interested us or that something happened in the world that grabbed our attention and gave us cause to switch gears or we were really interested in the book we were reading together or that someone was sick or mentally spent or the boys really got into something they were playing or creating.
I worked hard to incorporate interesting books, ideas, authors, poems, topics, historic events, etc. into our "morning meetings" because those things interest me and I think kids should be familiar with various viewpoints and authors and ideas and knowledge of our history and the news and events of today even when it's prickly.
And because when I was in elementary school and had to present weekly current event to my class , my dad had me go through Time magazine and pick out something to share. It was always complicated and way above my head and all the other students too. But my dad, over breakfast and on the ride to school, explained it and discussed it with me until I was clear on it and could present it clearly and thoroughly to my classmates, whether it involved legislative bills or oil and gas prices or relations with the Soviet Union.
So, I, like my dad, don't dumb down or sugar coat all these interesting and important points, current or past. We discuss, break down, look up more information, discuss again and it makes this homeschooling gig more fun and interesting for me too.
- We leave the house frequently. I need this and the boys need this. We have regularly scheduled activities and we have field trips out and about. We went to theaters and orchestra halls and farms and historic sites and museums and nature centers and much, much more. We got out of the house, we socialized, we learned. It was great!
- Oh, and did I mention the freedom to travel throughout the year? Well, it's a big perk! We went to Southwest side of Florida, we spent a week in the D.C. area, we traveled to Chicago and we visited family in Missouri and Texas and Oklahoma and friends in Iowa and even made a stop in Arkansas. And we learned things at every single stop. It was wonderful! And this school year we've already traveled to Atlanta, GA and Miami and Marco Island, FL and the North Shore of Minnesota.
- I learned how my kids learn. They each learn in a different way. What's easy for one is hard for the other. What makes learning fun and concrete for one, doesn't work for the other. This does create some challenges for me, but I will continue to work to make learning fun and efficient and tangible for both kids.
I do often struggle with my kids over certain subjects, pencils, fidgets…anything they can fuss over, stalling our process and making learning NOT FUN for any of us. So, there are definitely a lot of challenges too. It certainly is not all smiling, happy people over here all the time.
This year, I will really work on not feeling rushed to get everything I think we need to or guilty if we have a not so productive day. I will try very hard to be more patient with myself and my kids. I will make more of a point to praise their good work. We will keep on keepin' on, taking one year at a time...make that one day at a time. Over and out…