We’ve officially been homeschoolers for a week. We’ve clocked 28 hours out of our required 1,000 and made it through the first week of this new experience.
There are a lot of mom bloggers out there, and quite a few homeschooling blogs. I’ve always sort of been stubborn about “niching” myself as a blogger. However, the one thing I have always strived for is authenticity and a realistic look at life with kids. (Aka – I try to keep it real!)
I think that we tend to paint picture of our everyday, behind-the-scenes life as ideal. We post the highlights, scoot the clutter out of the shot before we snap the picture, and rarely share our “lows.” Any endeavor we set out to conquer in parenting, be it homeschooling, breastfeeding, cello lessons, or getting our three year old to eat vegetables is going to be an up and down process. NOTHING ever goes perfectly. BUT, if you’re passionate and feel a calling, seeing it through and riding out the waves is worth it. Every time.
Honestly, our first week of school went really well. Kids are so incredible adaptable and my months of planning paid off. However, there were highs and lows this week. There were moments of self-doubt. There was sibling bickering. There was resistance to an assignment or two. This is a process – and it will not be perfect overnight, in a week, or even in a year. It’s fluid. You must always keep changing and growing with your kids to succeed. Here is just a snippet of what I learned and experienced my first week of homeschooling.
1. Plans are just plans
One of the BEST things about homeschooling is the freedom to be flexible. If you are more of a rigid personality (like myself) you will need to learn to become more flexible. Even the most carefully laid out and most amazing plans will most likely not go exactly as planned. Roll with it, and let your plans guide you – not rule you.
If your kids are interested in something – keep going! Don’t feel like you need to move on just because your plan book says so. Dive deep. Follow your child’s lead. You get to when you homeschool – so take advantage!
On the flip side, there will be days when a child just isn’t feeling a lesson you planned or prepared. Decide how important the particular lesson is to you. If it is going to throw your child off or deflate their interest – ask yourself if there is another way they can learn the skill/information at hand. If your child ends up learning the information or mastering the skill – it doesn’t matter HOW they get there. You’re homeschooling, so you’ve already decided to take a different road – why not take another? It’s okay to change your game plans.
2. Adapt. Adapt. Adapt.
I told ya – flexibility is vital! However, one of the most exciting things about homeschooling is getting to adapt to YOUR child. You get to teach how they learn! You can modify your lesson plans and teaching to maximize their engagement. It’s pretty darn amazing and a huge gift.
This week I’ve gotten to see first-hand what my kids enjoy about learning and what frustrates them. As we move forward, I get to do more of what they respond to, and will seek out ways to get THEM excited about learning. (This will mean fully admitting and giving up the notion that they learn the same way I do. This is huge.)
Learn to embrace your child’s strengths. Recognize that kids are different and won’t always fit into the “box” we are most comfortable with. (I may or may not be mourning the fact that my kids are not all hyped up about writing and English.)Run with their strengths, capitalize on what they love to do, and find ways to breathe life into the subjects that are more difficult or “unappealing.” Always be adapting.
3. Start Praying for Patience
There’s sort of a joke inside Christian circles that you should never ever pray for patience – because inevitably, you’ll be “given” a chance to practice said patience. When you’re a homeschooler, you’re going to need patience every day – and lots of it. You need that patience (and a firm resolve!) in those moments when your kids are going cuckoo bananas or are bickering with each other. Remind yourself that you are doing this for a reason – and you do NOT need to call your local school district and make other arrangements. You’ve got this. (And when you don’t, just keep praying – and keep a small stash of chocolate on hand!) 😉
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Yes, our week went fairly smoothly, and by the third day, my second and fourth grader were instinctively getting the books and supplies they needed at the appropriate times. They were getting a hang of the system and our new routine. However, there was a day where I just wasn’t sure how to incorporate my kindergartner into the mix and he went and played with his Thomas trains for a good chunk of the day. And you know what? That’s okay! When I look at what my four year old (we are doing K a year early) learned this week – I’m very pleased. It was okay to go at his pace. It was okay to give him time to play while I caught my breath. It’s okay!! (I promise!)
Give yourself some time to adapt, adjust, and get your “new normal” down. Give your kids time to figure out the system. They might need time to see you in a new role. They may have trouble understanding that being at home now involves more than just playing. Homeschooling is work – and gets all the more challenging as you begin to work with multiple grade levels. You’re not going to be asked to be the feature cover story for “Homeschooling Magazine” your first week out of the gate.
Expect hiccups. Expect bumps. Do what you can and then add more. You’ll get it.
Oh yes – and one more VERY important thing….
5. IT’S WORTH IT!!!!