The secret to happy homeschooling is…
What it looks like:
- doing the hard work together
- creatively exploring subjects (depth investigation, field trips, recording milestones, using art to teach history and history to teach art, science projects, playful writing, using your imagination to create depth experiences that excite you)
- providing the tools and materials to support your children’s creativity (cameras, computers, iPads, paints, calculators, measuring tape, hammers, digital recorders, Lego, sewing machines, trampolines, binoculars)
- paying attention to what your children say, do, think, express, feel—and responding in kind
- learning alongside your children, so that you know as much about Ancient Egypt as they do, you know as much about Degas’s sculptures as your kids do, you know how to divide fractions and spell “serendipity” and play Ultimate Frisbee as well as your children.
- reading books together, aloud, so you go on the same journey, inhabit the same imaginary world, and share the anxiety and thrill of the narrative as a group, a family.
- showing your enthusiasm; it’s contagious
- helping because help, helps
- talking, talking, talking
- eating together at the same table or on the same blanket or in the same car or near the same beautiful view.
What gets in the way:
- expecting independent learning so you don’t have to work so hard
- trusting a curriculum more than your own philosophy of education
- putting pressure on your kids to meet expectations set by the state or your spouse or the curriculum or (even) yourself.
- wishing your homeschooled kids were older or could read already or had mastered their math facts or weren’t so messy, silly, resistant
- being bored by education
- homeschooling because you hate the public schools, not because you love learning
- farming out education to too many tutors, co-ops, and online classes rather than being a home educator
- “driveschool” – too many hours in the car, not enough at home
- hating a subject area
- continuing to homeschool after the spirit and energy of the lifestyle are gone and you (honestly) can’t muster it again
- homeschooling when grief or family pain are too great (home should be a safe, peaceful space; not a war zone, not a constant reminder of sadness)
The secret to homeschooling is being present—the full you:
- the happy-to-be-with-your-kids you
- the invested-in-the-exciting-journey-of-learning you
- the willing-to-make-the-huge-investment you
- the empathetic-companion you
- the creative-confident-in-charge you
- the researcher-learner-find-the-best-new-ideas you
…the unique you that is the Mom your kids know and adore.
Be present to this moment, to learning right now, to your kids’ experiences and growth today.
Trust your hunches, follow through, take care of yourself (take breaks), and Be There while you home educate.
That’s all it takes.
Which is everything you’ve got.
Image by Olaf Gradin (cc cropped, text added)
Thanks for all the great reminders.
This was a great post Julie! My desire is to do all of these things but find myself many times falling into the checking things off the list. How do you stay engaged?
Don’t rush through your days. Find one thing to enjoy/do and really stay there while it’s happening. You can check other things off the list, but while you spend time on that *one thing* that you’ve determined to give full attention to, turn off your phone, close your computer, be present. Do it with one thing per day and you’ll slowly build the habit of engagement because you’ll see the fruit of the results. 🙂
Thanks Julie. I guess I get so focused on all that we have to accomplish and forget to slow down.