Do you wish you had companionship as you take new home education risks? Are you looking for input so that you can reframe your experience, add new tools to your tool kit, and find the personalized support you crave for your family?
The Homeschool Alliance is where I give audio lectures, readings, and personal reply support to our community of homeschooling parents. One of our parents wrote the following post (with permission to share) and I thought many of you might relate.
Alliance member, Erin, writes:
I KNOW what I’m doing, I just don’t have confidence in myself to make the decision and stick with it. I doubt and second-guess constantly. I research things to death, make a decision, and then something else catches my eye, and so I research that to death and change my decision again.
I need to just go with my gut here. My gut tells me that your BWL philosophy is what I want for our family, it’s what I envisioned years ago when I was in grad school for elementary education, when I first decided I wanted to home school (nothing like spending a few years working INSIDE the school system to make you want to keep your kids OUT! LOL).
But why do I feel so unequipped? Maybe it’s not that I feel unequipped…maybe it’s just that what was engrained into my mind in school – the how/why/when to teach is just taking up too much space in my mind.
I have never felt like I understood science. I hated school growing up because it was boring, uninspiring, and dull. I didn’t want to do what the teachers wanted me to do…but because I worry so much that I’m in the wrong on what school should look like, I keep falling back to the very same thing I hated as a child.
But, after reading this first article, watching your first webinar, journaling, and reading all the above responses and comments, I’m realizing something.
I also hated history growing up, and never found it interesting at all. But last year, I embarked on teaching US History to my kids. I spent time gathering books….LOTS of books….about 150 to be exact. We got some used, got many from the library, and we curled up on the couch and read them together. We discussed them, sometimes we wrote about them or drew a picture, or completed a project I’d found on Pinterest….but the main ingredient, the thing that made it so successful, was that I was interested, curious, and driven to learn it myself. I took a topic that I had little interest in and I discovered value in learning it for myself, and THAT became the drive to teach it to them. It wasn’t to check off a box on some curriculum paper, or to appease some school system. It was because I decided that I wanted to learn about it in depth, and I drew my kids in….and they LOVED it! It was amazing!
I need to take that very same drive, curiosity, excitement, passion, and OBSESSIVENESS when it comes to other things I want us to cover. And not use such broad catagories (sic). I get overwhelmed with the idea of teaching branches of science – biology, earth and space, etc….so instead, I need to focus on smaller, more attainable goals….like learning about rocks and minerals. Spend a month or so immersing myself and the kids in books, projects, videos, etc about single topics….ones that don’t overwhelm me, ones that don’t require a year-long commitment (though it could very well go on that long if there is interest!). If I hear them talking about a topic they are interested in, I need to allow THAT topic to become what I focus/invest/perseverate on, instead of schedules or curricula. If my daughter says “I want to learn about rocks”, I would typically spend the next few weeks devouring all I could about which curriculum is the best one to use to teach about rocks…but that is really stupid and a waste of time.
My time would be so much better spent saying, “Absolutely! let’s go to the library today or tomorrow, and get some books about rocks!” and then immediately start finding some videos, and maybe see if we can come up with some project and/or experiments…to focus on HER and the thing she is interested in, instead of wasting hours chasing after the “perfect curriculum” that will teach it to her. It’s more fun for her and for me if we simply learn about things together. And you know what? One thing I’ve learned about myself since Grad school is that I LOVE LOVE LOVE to research and learn. It excites me and gives me energy in the morning. I love to figure things out and to be able to find answers to my own questions…THAT makes learning fun…and THAT is how I need to look at our home learning…a quest to take with my kids, for us to pave our own way and find our own path…for us to dig into topics together, and to stop worrying that we will miss something! I always think that if we do that method, that somewhere along the line, I will not know to teach that ONE thing that would have made a difference in their future lives!
But I do realize that that is simply ridiculous. One fact about rocks, or one experiment about the human body or whatever, is not going to damage them if we skip it. What’s more important anyway? Learning 53 facts about the human body, or developing a love of learning and teaching them HOW TO FIND ANSWERS! I need to teach them to enjoy the process….learning is and should be looked at as a process, not a means to an end. But in our society, it’s viewed as a means to an end…when you turn 18 and graduate from high school, you are “educated”….even though we all know that’s not what makes a person educated…lol!
Thank you again (I’m feeling like that’s going to be something I say to you every day!)…you have rekindled my love of teaching and learning…and given me a resource to help me set up my track to run the race. I feel like I’ve run in circles, and been bumping into obstacles constantly, and I look up and I’ve lost my way….but I’m realizing that I need to learn to be more accepting of myself and my kids, and to just trust that 10 years is a LONG ENOUGH time to teach the things that I think matter!
And…sorry this is so long…but I wanted to share. I did our first Freewrite last night…my husband and I and our 3 kids all sat down and wrote about what kind of candy we wished would fall from the sky, and then we all read them aloud. The kids LOVED it and my middle daughter (who usually takes FOREVER to write anything), couldn’t wait to get into bed last night and work on another one! She filled up a front and back of a paper in no time and was all giggles and smiles! Just in the last 3 days, I have felt such a fresh wind blow through our home, and it’s all because of the wisdom I have gained from 2 of your webinars and some of your blog posts and The Writer’s Jungle! Thank you for all you do to support us moms who are still in the trenches! I think that this Homeschool Alliance may be the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing I’ve done for our homeschool so far….it’s helping me to really think about and process what I value and what I think is important, and to really think about what I want our life to look like…I cannot wait to read and learn more! Thanks!