Last time I asked you to write down your fears. The good news is that now you know, but the bad news is, they probably haven’t gone away. At least not all of them.
Remember when you were injured? Maybe it was a heartache, or maybe it was a life-changer (like the car crash I was in years ago). It changed how you deal with life. Yes, your life is different now than it ever would have been because of it. But, you know what? You survived, you moved on, and you stopped focusing on it after awhile. You learned how to live with your new circumstances and you evolved. It may have even made you a better person.
Remember when you finally got more money? It may have been a one time deal, a salary increase or maybe you finally paid off that school loan or credit card. Remember how much of a life-changer it was? Remember how you felt? Do you still feel it? Probably not. You moved on and you stopped focusing on it after awhile. You evolved
Good and bad are not usually so clear cut.
Homeschooling is a life-changer.
You will have times when you wish you could just drop your kids off at school and think you have really made a mistake. What were you thinking? You’ll wish you could go back. You can’t. You’ve moved on. You could re-enroll your kid, but life has changed. You’re evolving.
Listen, I really don’t want anyone homeschooling who really can’t handle it. Why would you put your child and yourself through it? For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity to really get to know my own child and have an impact on his life; but I don’t think it’s for everyone. You’ve got to be committed. It’s got to feel right.
I had students in my classroom who were pulled out to be homeschooled. The parents thought the school couldn’t meet their child’s needs. I was mostly frustrated when parents made that choice because most of the kids returned later that year or the following year and they were even farther behind and even less in sync with the way a school functions. These parents took their children out of a bad situation only to return them to it.
I loved teaching in that school and had a wonderfully supportive principal who wasn’t afraid to be on the side of the teacher, but he also wasn’t afraid to be on the side of the parents. Most times, he understood both sides, but he also understood the limits of the school.
I also admired the parents who chose to pull their kids to homeschool. I taught for 23 years in a classroom and felt I hardly kept my head above water some days. Of course, most of that was because I was mired in bureaucracy. There’s very little bureaucracy that comes with homeschooling. There’s so much freedom. For some people, too much.
Most of the time, parents and I were on the same side. Many times I kept in contact with them sincerely letting them know that they could always contact me for support. After all, though schoolkids belong to their parents, as teachers, we do feel connected and always will be. Some kids will do much better in a one on one situation. Teachers know it. Parents know it. The child even knows it deep down. Having that opportunity is priceless.
Homeschooling can be a great opportunity, but it can also be a disaster.
As parents, we know we can’t always meet our kids’ needs. Sometimes we have to let go and let things just “be” for awhile. Unfortunately, schools have less and less time to let kids just chill.
Parents have that luxury. Don’t let the pressure to perform overrule those thoughts and feelings that your child just needs time and not more pressure. It’s the reason schools are failing. Too much pressure to perform and not enough attention to loving learning environments. If you can figure that out, your child wins.
As a homeschool parent, you can do so much more.
I’m not saying it will be an effortless and fantastic vacation. How many of those have you actually had in your life? Really? With kids? How many times have you returned from a vacation only to think, “I need a vacation from my vacation” ?
Homeschooling is not a vacation. Nope. Not even unschooling. You can take a vacation while homeschooling, but in the back of your mind you’re going to wonder if your kids are learning enough or if you’re messing them up for the rest of their lives. It takes awhile for learning to become comfortable- a way of life.
How many years does it take for you to feel like you’re a good parent? As soon as you feel confident, get ready for changes. That’s pretty typical of homeschooling too.
How many years does it take for you to feel like a new city is “home” after moving there? Don’t you long for the “good ole days” sometimes? Doesn’t life seem easier in retrospect?
It’s all about committing to it….at least for a period of 6 months to a year. It’s all about making new discoveries and finding your way.
Let’s try the list idea again (like in A Journey into Learning-part 1).
This time, let’s switch.
Take a moment to write all of the hopes and dreams you have about taking the perfect trip. Don’t write about hopes and dreams for homeschooling, but instead, what would be your ideal trip? Give lots of details. (Yes, the kids are coming too!)
Here are mine.
I wrote about my perfect homeschool experience.
How do they compare?
1. Prepare- Have an overall plan. Read up. Research. Scope it out like you would any journey you are going on.
2. Flexibility- Back up plans are great for lesson plans and travel. It won’t always work out perfectly. That’s okay.
3. Sunny dispositions- Ultimately, you want your child to be excited every day. It’s not possible with travel nor learning. There are ways to optimize those sunny days!
4. Not letting a day of struggle (rain) ruin the experience. You don’t let a day of rain ruin a trip. Don’t let it ruin your homeschooling journey.
5. Relaxation- No more stressful phone calls and notes from school about attention, frustration, or performance. Knowing you’ll get where you need to go; though your path may change works in both learning and travel.
6. Freedom- This one is the reason many people choose homeschooling. If you value that idea of freedom, how will it affect your homeschooling plan? Are you prepared for your child to deviate from your chosen path of curriculum, structure, and scheduling? Will you give your own child the freedom to change course?
7. Money- Ideally, learning like travel wouldn’t cost a cent. Fortunately, you have a better chance of learning costing less. The internet and field trips really can open up a whole new world and you can definitely minimize cost if you’re willing to change your plans.
8. Choice- again…If your ideal trip involves choices in places to visit and paths to take, shouldn’t your child’s learning allow for and even encourage choice? Wouldn’t it make the journey so much sunnier?
9. Structure- Less or more? How do you function on a trip? Do you map out your itinerary? How do you deal with changes? Follow your child’s and your own preferences when you plan to buy that boxed curriculum or totally let loose.
10. Beauty- Slow down and enjoy the moments. Just like those mornings in the quiet sitting on the beach or high upon a hill, there will be moments of peace and moments of excitement. Slow down and cherish them.
Watching your own child learn is a thing of beauty.
So, what’s your destination?
Where is the next path on your journey?