homeschool

Letting Go of School at Home

This year marks my third year homeschooling.  My kids are seven and three, or second grade and preschool to use traditional terms.  When we began our homeschool journey, we were pretty low-key about it.  There was no need to structure preschool or kindergarten.  We read books, or played games with numbers.  We went to the library, the museum, and the zoo.  It was lovely and fun.

When my daughter started first grade work, things changed.  For the first time, we had structured curriculums.  And we had quite a few of them.  Math, history, writing, grammar, and spelling, plus less structured subjects like science, art, and music.  My son was two, and like most mothers of young children, I felt overwhelmed.

By the end of that first “real” school year, things had become…not fun.  It was stressful, for me and for Evy.  She started to complain and drag her feet about every subject, and I started to lose my patience because your brother is napping so let’s get this done!

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ugh…

We muddled through, and took a much needed break that summer. I knew something had to change; I knew I wanted to rekindle the joy we had felt that first year of homeschool.  I just didn’t know what to do.  

I thought community might help.  So being the introvert that I am, I sought out blogs and finally stumbled upon a few podcasts.  I found Homeschooling in the North Woods, and through Alisha and Amanda I discovered Brave Writer.

And suddenly, something clicked.  I realized that I didn’t have to do school at home.  The traditional classroom was the only school experience I knew, and I had tried to recreate it without thinking.  So I talked it over with my husband, and we decided to back off a bit.  We’re trying to do less each week, and we’re trying to make what we do more fun and engaging.  Now you can find us lighting candles for copywork, reading history in a blanket fort, doing science experiments, and enjoying poetry tea time.

 

Trying to find a community and listening to others’ experiences helped me remember that I can do this.  There is no right way, and our homeschool does not need to look like a classroom.  Homeschool will be whatever it is in my home.  And that is just what it needs to be.

I hope that you can find space to stop and breathe, to relax into whatever endeavor you are a part of.  It isn’t always easy.  So next week, when I am freaking out that we haven’t accomplished enough, or that my daughter is behind in math, or that my son watched too much TV that day, I will try very hard to pause, breathe, and relax.

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Things My Kids Have Taught Me

Opening a Closed Door

My daughter started tap dance lessons recently.  She’s been asking to take tap for years, and this year she’s finally old enough.  For some reason, seven seems to be the magical age for beginner tap lessons.

We signed her up, bought her shoes, figured out how to navigate the parking situation at CCM, and drove to Clifton for her first lesson.

Her tap class starts right after her ballet class (she’s a dance loving kid).  Ballet ends, we rush to get her shoes on and find the class.  Well the registration information had an error, the nice reception woman tells us, so sorry.  Her class is now in a different room. We rush to the new class.  We find the room number.  The door is closed.

Cue my old friend, anxiety.  A closed classroom door.  It’s like college all over again.  Do I interrupt and go in even though I’m late?  Won’t everyone be looking at me?  Will the teacher be mad?  Notice how in this moment, I’ve forgotten my daughter.  My fear has me thinking irrational thoughts that center on myself.

Luckily, my sense of duty to my kids runs a bit stronger than anxiety.  And I am resolute that I will model how to handle anxiety when it comes, at least when I can.  So we open the door.

And you know what?  It was fine (of course).  The instructor and other kids were in a circle, introducing themselves.  So I walked Evy up, checked that we were in the right place, and said, “Have fun!”

I have a feeling that people without anxiety will not understand why opening a closed door could be problematic.  But I also know that some of you will get it, all too well.

That Saturday morning I watched my daughter walk into a brand new classroom with excitement and anticipation, even though she was late.  And she reminded me, opening a closed door is no big deal.