Being still relatively new to homeschooling, I find myself constantly referencing methods from experienced homeschooling families. As with any aspect of parenting, I want to do this “right.” Honestly, isn’t that what we all want? I mean, does anyone really jump into anything hoping they will screw it up? On a daily basis we are left to question and second guess pretty much every aspect of our lives. I’m from Pittsburgh. So here my second guessing starts the moment I put on jeans and boots at the beginning of a 40˚ day. Will I be comfortable, or will I be begging for shorts by noon? But, I digress.
As I delve deeper into the world of homeschooling, I find so many parents like myself who feel anxious or scared that they may be doing everything wrong. They second guess themselves constantly. Quite frankly, society often second guesses them. Students and their parents are frequently met with a bevy of invasive questions and comments from strangers once they learn the child is homeschooled. Questions and comments that would NEVER be asked to a student attending public school.
[**Some of my personal favorites: “so, will they ever go to normal school?” “Oh, is today a day off from school?” “Do you have any friends?” “Wow, don’t you need a break from them?”]
So it is no wonder homeschooling parents often over-analyze every move they make. My husband and I had an eye-opening predicament a few weeks back. It was in this situation that we unlocked the secret to why so many homeschooled parents may feel this way.
We found ourselves standing over top of our 1st grader demanding that he complete his math worksheet.
“But, it’s boring. I did this. I know this stuff already,” he whined.
My husband and I stole a glance at each other and decided to have a side bar.
“What do we do here?” was the pained expression on both of our faces. Staring at each other blankly for a few moments, we began to discuss the dirty little secret that we both share. We are both products of public school. We are children of rote education. So to us, complete this worksheet…and this one…and this one was, for the better portion of our adolescence, how we learned. We knew we had mastered a task by the star that our teacher had given us at the top of the paper. And then we moved on in anticipation of the next star to be claimed. There was no second guessing. There was no anxiety. The star told us we knew what we were doing. All was right with the world. So, twenty plus years later, while staring in the eyes of our pleading son, all that came to mind was… can. not. compute.
It was in this moment that I realized we had been squandering this amazing opportunity of homeschooling. I also came to the harsh reality that challenging myself to learn a new way might be the most difficult part of this whole process. In that afternoon, I was forced to take a step back and realize that I am blessed with the ability to tailor the concepts my child is learning to their level at any point.
Does this mean I will cave in every time my son “doesn’t want to do” something? Umm, absolutely not. Otherwise, I would have a pack of wild, toothless, naked little men living on chocolate running through the streets.
What it does mean is that from here forward, I will embrace the fact that I selected this type of education for my children for these very moments. Because there is more than one way to learn something. Of the seven styles of learning, how many can I really nurture forcing my child to complete a worksheet? Homeschooling parents are fortunate to have the time and means to inspire learning in their children outside of the parameters that many teachers must follow. I am done squandering my opportunities to foolishly fill worksheets with the doodling of a bored, uninspired child. So for today, we will forego the pencil and paper for adding and subtracting with rocks outside…..and that’s okay.