I am a long time homeschooler - my oldest daughter is out on her own at nineteen and I currently have a 5th grader, 8th grader, and an 11th grader here at home - those grade levels being nothing more than an approximation. Do I have any thoughts for someone starting their own homeschool journey?
Sure, but I guess my first thought is that I have not found any two homeschools that are alike. Your experience will be unique but here are a few words about my own experience so far...
Be prepared for odd questions.
I am no longer asked if homeschooling is legal. That's kind of nice! How does one answer that question? The person asking has just let you know that they think you are either capable of engaging in an illegal activity if not insinuating that you may already be an outlaw. Hand's down, when I first started homeschooling, this was the number one question. Today the number one question is..."But what about socialization?" - this question has moved up from the number two slot to number one. There have been many others. Personally I have always tried to receive any odd inquiries with a sense of humor and I strive to give sincere answers.
I need to take care of myself. A bit of time to myself has always been crucial. When possible I have taken classes. My experiences at Sunbridge College (now Institute) and more recently, the Fiber Craft Studio have been so enriching. When a class was not possible (which was the case for many years) I would give myself a regular evening at the library to peruse the shelves and enjoy the quiet. Time to myself helps me refocus and recharge. When I do get out sorts, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually things go awry. This.I.know.
Learn to observe.
Time outdoors in nature is a balm to my soul but also helps me hone my skills of observation. I have such an experience of awe and wonder when I am in the natural world - I try to take that inner experience back to my children. I find parenting can stir so many emotions, it is good for me to step back and just look at my children where they are to see what they need. I also have found that I cannot force my children to fit into a curriculum but that the curriculum is a guide, a framework, a beginning. Observation helps with the tailoring of the curriculum to the child.
Establish a start time.
I like the *idea* that our homeschooling days should have this natural flow but I have learned that I need a start time. The temptation for me to do just one more load of dishes, just one more load of laundry...is too great. Some days I choose to do less by ending early - some days have a different feel altogether if we will be out of the house...but on our regular days...we usually start the nitty gritty by 9:00am. There's a lot that happens before 9:00am but for our daily *these things must get done today* I keep an eye on the clock to make sure the day doesn't get away. And of course the things that *must get done* change. In Kindergarten it may have been circle time and then an activity like painting or baking, these days it's spelling, form drawing, and math.
Spend time at home.
Home is the place where I experience the life enhancing ebb and flow of RHYTHM. It doesn't mean we don't have outings and classes outside the home but I try to choose activities wisely. There is a running a joke among homeschoolers about how often we are not at home. I find that if I am out of the home too much it starts to take a toll on everyone.
I love what I do. I love being home and offering my children a unique experience. I do not homeschool out of fear or for religious reasons. It's an endlessly fascinating work to care for home and my children. It doesn't mean every moment of every day is a joy (ha) but when asked what I do, I smile inside and I say "I am home and homeschool my children." I am blessed.
More than a few words, but they are from my heart...and really just the beginning of what I could say on a subject so near and dear.
Joining Sheila at Sure as The World!