Friday, April 1, 2016

Homeschooling Lessons I Learned the Hard Way: 8 Truths About Homeschooling

There are families that know from the moment they even contemplate children that they're going to be homeschoolers.  That wasn't us.  We had everything reasonably planned out for everyone to go to Catholic school, and ultimately that turned out to not be the plan.  I used to think, "I'll do it if I have to, but I don't really want to."  By the time Matthew and Damien started, I was the one lobbying for them to be home!  There are some things you can read about, but they never seem true until you experience them.  If my current self could go back and give my old self advice, I'd tell her to just relax, and to take these 8 tidbits to heart.  It'll be OK.

1.  This is hard.

Homeschooling isn't easy.  Some days it may be easier, but it's not easy every day.  You're the teacher, principal, lunch lady, custodian rolled into one.  It's OK to say, "One hat at a time!"

2. Be flexible.

Life happens.  Sometimes I plan for Jude to take an hour to do something, and he breezes through and is done in half that.  Sometimes, I plan an hour and he takes four.  Occasionally, an opportunity will come up that we can't decline, and it feels like we're playing catch-up for days.   Don't let yourself get wrapped up in schedules and "ought to."  Learning will happen.

3.  Field trips can be amazing.

My previous experience with "school trips" has been herding children onto and off of buses, compulsively counting heads, and racing through "places with so much group appeal that there are 30 of them there today" to make it back to the bus on time so we're home by dismissal.  As a homeschooler, I don't have to do it that way.  We can arrive someplace later in the day and not only still have lots of time, but the places are empty.  (Schools tend to clear out around 1:00, while museums don't close until 5!)  We can also can choose places that appeal to us but aren't practical for bus tours - we've visited about 45 National Parks Service-maintained sites alone!  It's taken up a lot of nerve to try these places out, for fear of the crowds, but almost always they are worth the trek.  (And usually not very crowded after all.) 

4.  Embrace SSR - no matter the R.

When I was in high school, we had a near sacrosant portion of homeroom labeled "Sustained Silent Reading."  SSR was 10 minutes each day of recreational reading. There were no school books and no homework/studying allowed.  What you read didn't matter - it could be a magazine, a book so fluffy that it made a cotton ball look elephantine, or War and Peace.  Require "choose your own" books to be read - at least a few minutes a day - but don't sweat over what is chosen.

Plus...10 minutes of quiet.  Jackpot!

5. No matter how many acts your circus seems to have, always give someone a turn in the center ring.

Big ones like to show what they've read just as much as the little ones do!  Jude and Damien revel in praise like "I'm so proud that you spelled that right!"  while one-on-one time gives Matthew and Luke the chance to tell something they've read that clicked.  It doesn't have to be a formal "around the table," because some kids don't need the crowd watching - just one person to listen makes their day.

6. You are incomparable.

It's hard not to compare what you're doing with others, to make sure you're measuring up.  Remember, you're teaching a single child, not a class of 40.  You're also teaching YOUR child, not Sallie from co-op's or Amy's from library time.  You can do whatever works for you as long as in the end your child is learning.

7.   Confidence first, challenge second.

Challenge is how we all grow, but it's hard when you feel like you just can't. When things get too hard for your child, drop back a little bit until your child regains his confidence, and then move forward again.  It's far easier to try when you can say, "I've done this before, I can do it again!"

8.  Do not look forward in fear.

For a long time, I've admired the intellect of St. Francis deSales, and his teachings, especially this one:

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.  
 Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Take it to heart! Be fearless!

Today is Day 5 of the Schoolhouse Crew Review spring Blog Hop. There are over 50 bloggers participating in this season's theme, 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents. I'll be featuring a different group of bloggers each day, and encourage you to check their blogs out and see what advice they have for you!

Adventures with Jude
Day 1: Choosing Curriculum
Day 2: Homeschooling Isn't Cheap
Day 3: Creating a Customized Curriculum
Day 4: Don't Lose the Big Picture
Day 5: 8 Truths about Homeschooling (this post)

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Katie @ Katie's Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom

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