Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~
- Take off the teacher’s hat.
Def.: have your teacher’s hat on
to be acting as you do when you are working as a teacher, lawyer etc., which may be different from the way you act in other situations.
Your professional skill as a teacher does not actually help you in those early years of homeschooling, In fact that “school-at-home” approach kills your young children’s natural built-in joy and delight to learn. Learn to learn alongside your kiddies and aim to be their facilitator instead. Let them lead the way and make many more choices!
2. Not everything needs to educational!
Every outing doesn’t have to be a homeschool lesson. It’s okay to let life happen without a lesson plan, a notebooking page, or oral narration. Stop focusing on end results and enjoy life’s journey together. You will kill nature study, hymn, art and music appreciation if you make it a formal lesson. Your teens will refuse to go into any museum! Just trust that a regular yet informal approach will yield enormous results.
When lessons produce tears, meltdowns, even tantrums, leave it alone. Stop and put it aside or try something different. Tears often have a root of fear. Find ways to reassure your child and encourage them to try a different way. Make allowances for tired or sick or stressed children (or mom) and take the pressure off. Just read aloud, go on a nature walk (but do not make it a formal lesson, see #2) or create art together. Determine if your child is just not ready and try again in a few months time. Unschool or deschool if your child has just come out of the school system and fears or hates school. Offer a variety of opportunities to find their spark and gently encourage them to explore what interests them.
4. Be affectionate.
If your children are super sensitive, insecure or uncertain, give them more cuddles. Even when you feel like you are wasting time and getting nothing done, just keep hugging. Cuddle together when you read to them. Sing together, skip together, get down in the dirt together, lie under the tree together. (My youngest daughter often told people her favourite part of homeschooling was that she got lots of cuddles.) Schools and systems don’t allow this physical affection at all. Even your distant, independent teen needs hugs, or back rubs and time alone with you. Aim to create a loving environment for your children to grow up and blossom in.
5. Relax and trust.
Just relax. Your children will turn out great. Enjoy each moment. Lean into their homeschooling experience without holding your breath, waiting for something to go wrong or trying hard to “do everything right”. Let me repeat ~ your kids are all going to turn out great. Not just okay, but great. Breathe … release those fears. Trust. Despite your best and worst efforts, they will be great!
I always tell my children and myself that we can always try again and start over. When one of us has hit a wall or struggled or things don’t work out, I tell them that we can wipe out the day, like a whiteboard, and try afresh the next day.
The Lord makes all things new. With this hope, forgive yourself, let it go and choose to do it differently.
What do you wish you had done differently? What do you wish you could change? Please share with us in the comments.
In Grace, Nadene
Images of one of my favourite impressionist artists — Mary Cassat