I think somewhere in my eagerness to begin homeschooling, I had created a vision in my mind that reality has failed to live up to. Now that we’re about half a year in, I’m starting to bend and make way for the reality that this is home-not-school just as much as it is homeschool.
Things I was doing wrong:
1. Assuming we could have a routine.
I don’t know what on earth was happening in my wildest, most idealistic dreams, for me to think that I (the mother who was partially inclined TO homeschool because she couldn’t handle getting her son on the bus in any sort of normal routine) would have a succinct daily routine with my children.
We don’t. We have lists of daily assignments and a whole lot of flexibility as to what gets done first, what gets pushed back a day (or two,) and whether or not markers are a suitable writing utensil.
2. Thinking that my daughter might treat me as she had her public school kindergarten teacher.
Lila LOVED her teacher. And her teacher LOVED her, bestowing upon her a myriad of “Best helper” compliments and awards for her dutiful student behavior. During school hours at home, Lila treats me just as she does during non-school hours – as her mother, whom she loves and respects (but whom she also feels the need to challenge, and whom she knows will love her, even if she’s NOT a dutiful student.)
3. Buying one-size fits all curriculum.
What works for Alex does not work for Lila. They learn differently and they enjoy different challenges. Attempting to get Lila to work through the same book (just a different grade level) as Alex is like asking her to pull her own teeth. And so, we’ve spent a small fortune on online resources and on trying out new pieced-together curricula, that do work.
4. Putting pressure on myself to do it all, everyday.
Turns out, having Friday as a fun day is actually necessary for my sanity. Doing homeschool, for us, means that if the lists of assignments for the week are all checked off, come Friday, we can play learning games, go to art co-op and generally, relax and pat ourselves on the back for not burning the house down or losing our minds.
5. Looking at other families.
Nothing about my homeschool is quite like anyone else’s. And learning to keep my eyes on what we are trying to accomplish here, in our space, with our little learners, has been a lesson in focus for me. It’s so easy to wonder what the public school kids are up to, or to want to see what the other homeschool families I spend time with are doing. But the reality is, unless I have a very specific question or need advice on a particular area or subject, it is happier and easier for me, if my eyes are on my own family.
When Lila is sitting on the kitchen floor in protest over her subtraction regrouping, when Asher angers her by answering what 4-2 equals, when she would not, and she covers her ears – I text Vinnie, I ask for prayers, I breath, I recommend any other activity she might prefer before coming back to math. I ride out the storm.
And when she eventually sits down and does an entire page of subtraction regrouping, all by herself, while I do the dishes or fix lunch. It’s a reward, just for me – one I might not appreciate if I were too busy looking over our shoulders and wondering how we’re measuring up.