Homeschool How – Trust the Process
Since I started this journey over a decade ago, both my sanity and my qualification for doing so have been questioned countless times by others (and sometimes, even myself!). However these days, with the recent turn of events I have apparently reached level 5 homeschool wizard status. Many people want to know the secrets of my magical ability to teach all my kids at home. People are comparing, fretting and doubting themselves thinking “How can I do this?” Trust me, you can. And you are NOT alone! People have been homeschooling for centuries, without any indication of a worldwide pandemic.
Education does not have to look like institutionalized schooling to be effective. Many of the most brilliant minds in history had a home education. They often credited their mothers for their success, not because their mothers were necessarily a plethora of knowledge, but because they were their most influential supporters and encouragers. This is the goal of the home educator.
Just as every child may have different styles of learning, there are also many styles of teaching. If you are just getting started, you can utilize great online resources such as homeschool.today, where you can read up on some of the most common teaching methods. But before deciding their “how”, I always encourage other homeschooling parents to sit down and determine their “why” for choosing home education first. I strongly believe that the “why” is integral to determining the “how”. Knowing your “why” helps you order your priorities and organize your life in a way that is manageable and attainable for your family’s needs. For couples, doing this together and coming to an agreement helps to keep you balanced and accountable when things go off the rails (and they will).
We’ve used many different resources in terms of curriculum over the years, and have modified our style as our family has grown. My “why” for homeschooling is to maximize my time with my children, so our personal “how” works well for our large family in terms of managing all the different ages and stages.This year we are doing a unit study approach using Gather ‘Round Homeschool. This curriculum is designed as a “round table” style of learning which allows me to teach all of my children from age 2 to 14 at the same time as we learn about a specific topic (examples are space, the human body, various continents, oceans, etc).
The curriculum encompasses a wide variety of subjects including science, geography, history, social studies, language arts, etc as we all sit together and learn about the topic. The kids branch out with their independent reading & writing work which is tailored to their individual levels. Math is also done separately in terms of level, graded by Dad. If you are married, find a way to share the role with your spouse. Dads are integral, and his involvement can be a huge blessing. If you aren’t married or able to share the load, find a community. You do not need to do this alone!
If you’re segmenting housework/child care/homeschooling/etc and stressing about how to do it all, think holistic. Consolidate as much as possible and get creative! Have kids fold laundry during read-aloud time. Assign chores at different times of the day. Have older kids do diaper changes or take a break to rock the baby while you work with a younger child. Figure out what needs to get done day to day and work it into your schedule!
There will be interruptions. Snack breaks. Diaper changing breaks. Breastfeeding breaks. Coffee breaks (amirite?) . Perhaps there will be the occasional tickle fight to lighten the mood, or a walk to change the scenery. There may be mornings where you call a “reset”, or call it quits early, and pick up where you left off tomorrow. You get to decide based on what your kids (and you) can handle.
Remember to ENJOY your children and take advantage of the moments you are given. Teaching attitude, initiative, empathy, kindness and character are some of the most valuable life skills we want this next generation to learn. For sure, academics are important. But sometimes the best skills are learned from normal, everyday life experiences. So make those count!
Mothers learn that we don’t have to be experts at everything academically in order to be experts on our children – who they are, how they learn, and what they need. And what your kids need, Mama – right now, and aways, is you.
Trust the process. The rest will come.