Sometimes it’s funny to get an idea of what outsiders imagine our homeschooling day looks like. The comments and questions can range from high praise to downright rude. It seems to me that some people envision that I’m the homeschooling offspring of Martha Stewart- providing my children with daily crafts and songs. I have the patience of a saint, and we model ourselves after a 90’s sitcom with frequent laugh tracks and lame punchlines. Oh, and forget the planning- I twirl around on my enchanted mountaintop, “Sound of Music” style, and lessons shoot out of my fingertips like magic.
* I wish* (about the magical mountain…not the 90’s –“Whoa!”).
Other people seem to think that I’m completely incompetent of teaching my children ANYTHING, and instead I just let them color (for school) or run circles around me, screaming. There are dishes piled up in the sink and an unanswered math problem on the board. When I do *try* to teach my kids, I frantically flip through the pages of my *teachers manual* and yell “If ONLY I wasn’t so UNEDUCATED and PARANOID about public schools, then maybe my children would LEARN something!” And that’s when I just lock them all in a closet, and they shake like toy Chihuahuas.
The truth is that neither of these extreme stereotypes fit my family. Unfortunately, I will never be very good as the spontaneous MacGyver of homeschooling (piecing curriculum together with a comb and a toothpick). My lessons are well-planned and pulled from various sources- but I will admit that the longer I homeschool, the more “spontaneous” I can get when I stumble across a good teaching opportunity (like when we are out in public- lots of room for learning there!). When I do decide to create my own lesson, it takes preparation and a lot of thought.
Likewise, I deeply care about my children’s education. I have done everything in my power over the last 5 years to provide my girls with a well-rounded, enriched learning experience. It’s amazing how people can react when they don’t even know the state laws and guidelines- or my family- and immediately retaliate by assuming that I don’t know what I’m doing and that they know better. Ha! If I come across a school teacher, I brace myself because half the time they think that I’m doing this as a personal attack on them. It’s a huge relief when I get a high five from a fellow teacher, because YES, I’m a teacher TOO.
So What Does Our Homeschooling Day Look Like?
Well, for starters, our day begins early. I rise before my children, even if only for a few precious minutes, and bask in the glory of silence while I sip on my large cup of coffee. Then I proceed to drag my children out of bed (I don’t think there’s a parent alive who doesn’t do this) and we begin our morning rituals- like breakfast, reading, and as of late, I squeeze in some fitness. Before we begin I make the effort to spend at least a few minutes with my son by reading him a book or two. There is absolutely no television in the morning because it is a serious wrench in the daily rhythm.
School officially starts at 8:00 am, and I sit at the dining room table with my kids, planning and/or writing (by hand!), while they begin their “anchor” lessons. This is mainly for repetition purposes, so they work on spelling, journal entries, warm up math and/or music. Once they have finished their independent work (and we are all in the mind set), we can then jump into more detailed lessons or activities. I rotate large lessons such as history, language arts, science, or new math concepts during the week- you find as a teacher that by diving deep you can get more than skipping around just to cram it all in.
All of this while at the same time, trying to keep my toddler occupied (on a good day he pretends to do school work too, other times I rely on sensory play).
Then of course there are outside commitments- meetups, classes, and errands. The house needs cleaning, and then there are my personal commitments as an individual, and not just as a mom (like this pretty little blog you are reading). And if it’s around the holidays, well, we will be doing as many traditions as possible.
Are you exhausted yet? LOL.
What I know about homeschooling is this: sometimes it will flow smoothly, and sometimes it won’t. There are days when my kids love every lesson and we work together beautifully and everyone is just doing SUPER. But of course, there are other days that I cannot seem to motivate them, or my son won’t stop screaming during math, or I’m just FREAKING TIRED. It happens.
As a homeschooling mom, I have days that I’m confident, and days that I’m hopeless. Days that I tote them around proudly, and days that I try to give them away at a half-price sale (buy one get 2 free! Ok, not really).
This is super common in the homeschooling world (probably just the parenting world in general), and the more that I talk to other moms, the more I see that no one is exempt from feeling like a loser every now and then.
Homeschooling is not perfect.
Pressure (Billy Joel Where Are You?)
I think that when you decide to pull your kids from the system, everyone expects you to have all the answers, from grade K to graduation. Everything has to be in order, and your kids need to love every second of it. You need to be involved in after-school programs and be a college graduate. Your kid needs to invent a special kind of glue…for rocket shoes. And even then, that’s still not good enough to a skeptic.
Look, sometimes we think we are doing fantastic, and our kids are going to rain on our parade (or stomp on it). This happened to me at the beginning of this year- I was enjoying my cup of coffee, thinking I finally figured it all out, when my girls completely threw me off my high horse and told me that our latest unit I spent hours researching was…boring. Ouch.
The point is, as a homeschooling mom, you gotta embrace the challenges and remarks that come with homeschooling.
Some days (or years) will be harder than others. Some days you’ll just want to cry. Others though, OMG will you be happy- like when your child reads you a book for the first time, or says they love math, or tells you an amazing fact they learned by researching “just because.” Or when they get a 100 on their spelling test. Or when they make a speech in front of a group, and don’t sweat a bit. Or best of all, when they hug you and tell you that they love homeschooling and you’re the best teacher ever.
Homeschooling isn’t perfect, but it’s the little imperfections that make it grand.
What does your homeschooling day look like?