Every new school year brings a new crop of homeschoolers, many of whom are fleeing the public school system. Yet, because of their past experience in education, they start by recreating public school at home, then become frustrated and feel like they are not qualified to teach.
How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what I did, almost 5 years ago.
We yanked the boys out of school at the end of second grade, and I gleefully started planning all the things they would learn, with me at the helm. It was dumb. Everything started out great, but after a while we were yelling at each other, no one was listening, and I was scared to death.
There are a few things that, had someone clued me in on, that would have made that first year less of a struggle. Here they are:
- Kids aren’t machines. They can’t be expected to sit still, listen and do as they’re told all day long. On some level, I knew this. Really, I did! But my fear of getting outside the “normal” school schedule kept me from listening to my mommy gut, and my kids.
- They also need lots of movement. A ridiculous amount. Even if they don’t agree and it takes kicking them outside for a little while. Have them to race each other around the yard, climb trees, digging forts in the dirt, or creating works of art outside – it doesn’t really matter, just get them outside.
- Meet them where they are, not where you think they should be. It’s one thing to have high expectations, but another entirely to be unfair. A better approach than pushing them to be at a level for which they are not ready is to ask them to do their best. On everything. Help them understand that there are days where your best is not as good as on other days – and that’s okay. Doing your best mean perfection every day. What it does is ensure that you’ll always make progress, even if it’s slow. It also gives you the ability to ask a reasonable question: “Is this your best work?”
- Give them freedom to explore. To really explore, parents need to step away. Mom and Dad need to watch from a distance. Let them fall and scrape their knees on the most (in your eyes) inane adventures. Don’t swoop in to save the day until they ask for help.
What did you learn the hard way?
Learning Tangent is Gail’s brainchild. When it all goes down, she has to get the magazine out the door and on its way to subscribers. She has four kids, of whom she and her husband David homeschool two. She enjoys a wide range of activities including weaving, photography, writing, is a musician (both a teacher & performer), calligrapher, and is an avid sci-fi- & fantasy reader. You’ll generally find her busy doing whatever it is she wants to on a given day.