You’ve got naysayers breathing down your back about homeschooling? Well, if it makes you feel any better, my mom didn’t think I had what it took to be a homeschooler. Something along the line of, “We’ll see how long this lasts.” Thanks for your vote of confidence, mom, but I appreciate your honesty. It made me determined. She was right, you know. I don’t fault the doubts she had one bit. How was a short-tempered medical doctor who appreciated alone time to herself going to deal with kids all day, every day, much less teach them?
We are now entering our seventh year of homeschooling. I have four kids, about the ages of 11, 9, 6, and 1. My kids, husband, and I are exceptionally satisfied with how homeschooling is going. So what made my mom raise her eyebrows and predict my kids would be hightailed to school in a heartbeat?
1. I like my alone time. There is no doubt. Homeschooling families are TOGETHER. All the time. A homeschool mom (or dad, if that’s who does the bulk of the teaching) is dinged like a bell ALL DAY LONG. Unless you sacrifice sleep, which I’m not usually willing to do, finding a balance of self and kids is tough. Thankfully, my husband is often able to take on the four kids by himself and let me have a quiet hour.
2. I naturally lean toward impatient and irritable. Let’s face it. Perfectionistic people like things done their way or the highway. Homeschooling has been a fun way to rein in my expectations and learn to communicate better in a more positive way. I can definitely see that I get easier to get along with each year. Maybe it’s just that I get more worn down, but regardless, it’s better.
3. I don’t like clutter. I once read, years ago before I started homeschooling and was still in the preparation reading stages, that homeschool moms needed to brace themselves for two things: 1) a messier house 2) some extra pounds. That stuck in my mind, preparing me for things to come. I hate clutter. Hate it. But with four kids of different ages, it’s something we deal with every day.
4. I am not a gushy mom. When people ask if I’ll be homeschooling in high school, I bust out belly laughing. When I was planning our homeschooling journey, I saw myself teaching the kids algebra and calculus and classical literature. Organized. Logical. Sitting still. I did not see myself gluing and pasting and singing and nature walking. Oh, sigh. I love my kids to pieces. I’m kind. And I’m learning patience. But don’t make me play Ring Around the Rosie or cut out a butterfly or gush over your 50th fairy drawing. I’m practical, not touchy-feely and lovey.
5. I was a working medical doctor. This probably blew my mom’s mind the most. Why did I go to medical school just to stay home with kids? Well, when I went to medical school and residency, I didn’t have kids, did I? And I wasn’t sitting around thinking about them either. Kids came along. Kids change things. Yes, it kind of hurt and stung to leave my colleagues behind (or what it actually felt like was that I was getting left behind), and it usually feels like I left my brain behind too. But 98% of the time, I have no regrets.
You’re Right, Mom…
So, Mom. You were right to question me and draw me up to prepare for the battle. Thank you! I could have easily failed and packed those girls off, not just to school, but to boarding school! Instead, I met your challenge, and I think we’re doing right well. How?
1. Be a self-examiner. Was I too harsh? Am I too lenient? Am I preoccupied with perfection? Am I comparing my kids to others? Am I spending too much time on the phone? Each move I make throughout the day, I try to measure its impact on my goals for my children’s education (and their lives in general). Without self-examination and a desire to improve, I would be a terrible homeschooler.
2. Love to learn and teach. I’ve always loved to teach. Sometimes I step back when I’m irritated when teaching my kids and try to pretend that I’m teaching someone else’s child. It usually (always?) brings out a nicer teacher.
3. Love my kids. We all love our kids, I know. So this is kind of a weird one to put. But man, I love my kids and I often try to envision their futures. What they’ll need to succeed. Am I giving them the tools they need?
4. Know when I’ve reached my limit and know to stop and take time to change tactics or educate myself or get help. Kids can be big stressors in small packages. It’s hard to understand, and when things are going well or our kids are grown up, we even forget how stressful they really can be. When I’m feeling squeezed, for whatever reason, I stop and regroup. Change things up. Get a babysitter. Ask my husband to do a little more. Take a break. Read on how somebody else tackled the same problem. It always helps.
I’m not really giving tips here, and I don’t mean to talk about myself. But I do want others to know that people will always question our choices. I’m glad they do, and if I can open a good dialogue with them and not let my feelings get hurt, I can rise up and overcome. If people are wondering if you should homeschool, ask yourself the same question. Write down deterrents. Write down a way to make each deterrent a strength, or at least a non-obstacle. Write down your strengths and how you’ll manipulate those strengths to succeed in homeschooling. With diligence and an open heart, you’ll succeed.