Changes I wish I could make

Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~

  1. 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.

ea55a13213221ebd3de36dfd7a9c4003Your 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.

4-mother-and-child-in-a-boat-mothers-children-mary-cassatt-360x3603.  Avoid the tears!

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!

mary_cassatt_mrs_cassatt_reading_to_grandchildren_postcard-r2e5db6cb5603484b8186d407360f7508_vgbaq_8byvr_324When we know better, we do better. 

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

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12 thoughts on “Changes I wish I could make

  1. Nadene,
    Wow, you write so eloquently, your words are so beautiful. I am at the beginning of this incredible God given priviledge with the Homeschooling journey. This reminds me of the treasure that we have in our children and that you have imparted a lifetime of treasure in them. It is so important to instill love, joy in our children because a joyful heart creates an eager heart to learn. Thank you, your thoughts and words are so encouraging. May the joy of the Lord be with you and your family!

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    • @Michele, thank you for your encouraging feedback! I am always delighted to share and encourage new homeschoolers and your approach is the perfect way to homeschool! Blessings on your homeschooling journey.

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  2. Thank you for all those lovely reminders! I agree with every single one in my heart, but my type A checklist personality tends to take over too often, and then the joy of learning and being together is lost. As we head to our science museum tomorrow I will remember to enjoy the journey!

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    • @Katie Getman, I find that if I put my Type A planning skills to good use, and prepare for open-ended outcomes, I can offer my children much more freedom. It is not necessary for me to steer, drive or desire a specific result, and my children can pick and choose for themselves and make the learning their own. Wishing you much freedom and joy as you trust and relax in your homeschooling journey.

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  3. What a beautiful post! I wish I’d read this years ago when I started homeschooling. I did all these things and more – made my homeschool like a school at home, forced my kids to continue learning even when they cried and pushed them. Eventually, I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the strength in me. I let go and they flourished. But I’m going through a lot of questioning lately on whether I did the right thing homeschooling my kids. I know it was good to have them close to me and not have all the pressures of public schooling. Academically they’ve actually thrived, despite me doing very little formal schooling the last 3 years. But I worry about them socially. They’re all teenagers now and very introverted. Yes, I also was deeply introverted as a teen and I went to school, but I worry that I’ve taught them to be isolated. Now that we’ve moved cities away from their friends, they have no desire to go out to meet anyone and make friends. I’m going to have to force the issue as they’d rather stay at home and follow their own interests. I’m worried it’s the homeschooling that has made them like this. I worry constantly that their lives are out of balance. Maybe it will get better once we’ve settled in the city.

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    • @kathleenbee, I can relate to teens withdrawing, especially after a move, and especially since we moved to a remote farm. We prayed for just 1 like-valued family that we could visit regularly and this has been our teens’ lifeline to socialisation. Despite my shyest daughter’s reluctance to get out and meet new friends, she is an amazing friend to those she has met and knows, and I am confident that she will always have a few intimate friends who really matter in her life.
      Don’t force anything. Trust, breathe, and watch how the Lord will unfold their story. God’s plan for their lives is always for good, even the times of loneliness and isolation. It will be fine and your children will be great!
      Blessings and much grace to you as you trust and wait on Him.

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      • Nadene, your words and advice mean the world to me. I’ll certainly take them to heart!! I’m going to relax and leave it up to God now and stop striving to solve the problem myself. It helps to know that your children came out of a similar thing stronger.

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  4. This is so very encouraging. I have a 23 year old who is out in the world, an 18 year old that we home-schooled just for high school and an almost 6 yo who has never been to school and at this point we don’t plan to send her. I have gone back and forth on which approach to take…I was a Montessori classroom teacher for 23 years and old habits die hard! But she is absolutely resistant to anything that feels like forced learning…so we are taking a much slower Waldorfy-Charlotte Masony approach with her. I second guess myself about every 3 seconds, lol.

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    • Oh, @Emmie, I love your terminology “a much slower Waldorfy-Charlotte Masony approach”! I encourage you to keep it slow, loose and open. It has taken me years to step out of the way and trust that my role is to be my child’s facilitator and encourager rather than lead and prescribe how, what and when to learn! Those mom-teacher doubts are awful! I sometimes feel surrendered and full of faith in the Lord’s leading, wisdom and guidance, and then my fears creep back. It is a walk of faith! Blessings!

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    • @Gaelle Schultz, I wish you the very best in your homeschooling journey! It has been, and continues to be, the most rewarding relationship I could ever wish to have with my children.

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