I have a confession to make. I have been stressing about homeschooling for the past month or so. That’s right, I don’t have it all together, despite appearances to the contrary. :-p When I first shared our plans to homeschool Charlotte Mason style I was so excited – I couldn’t wait to start! The hands-on math, literature books, light copywork, nature study for science, learning at the child’s pace – it all sounded so simple, straightforward, and perfect for Emma.
In case you want to read about our Kindergarten plans, I blogged them here.
Summer sped by and I realized school would be starting before I knew it! So I started to get serious and began planning, writing things down, figuring out what we would be doing specifically for each subject, deciding which subjects would be done on which days of the week, and envisioning our days. Some people don’t do this much planning but I knew I needed to see it written down if I wanted to get anything done. Okay, I probably overplanned. :-p
What started my worrying about being prepared and making the right choices was when I began reading on Pinterest, Facebook, and homeschooling blogs about what other homeschooling moms were doing. Curriculum and books others are sharing, especially when they are excited about them, can really be appealing. Math especially has been something I have struggled over – I have looked at sample pages of 103091203491034 math books! I liked the looks of quite a few of them, so how would I narrow it down? There are so many different approaches to math and so many options… it was overwhelming! Just as quickly as I decided to try one book, another one was recommended. I couldn’t decide.
My plan to keep it simple was being thwarted by ME.
I felt the way I am sure many moms over the years have felt as they stand in the midst of the hundreds of vendors at curriculum fairs, their eyes wide in wonder and… wanting everything and yet knowing they couldn’t possibly DO everything! The more I read, the more I second-guessed my initial decisions, and the more of a headache I gave myself.
I know it sounds like I’m wasn’t clear on my plan for homeschooling, but I was! I knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to wander away from the literature-led approach, but the more I looked into our state laws regarding homeschooling (which are actually demanding less than many other states) and the standardized testing that would be coming up in 3rd grade, the more I wondered if I could actually do things that way. Because as much as I want to make it all fun and give my kids a delight for learning, I still had that question in the back of my mind, “What if it is isn’t enough somehow?”.
Sense told me that I shouldn’t have been worrying about that right now (she’s only 5) and that whatever we do, we’ll be doing more for her than the public schools could! Obviously I care about her education and what she learns, so I know I’ll be able to fill in any gaps I am afraid I might leave.
I guess preparing for homeschooling is harder work than I thought it would be. It’s not “grab a curriculum and go”, it involves looking into homeschooling laws in your area, finding support around you, figuring out which curriculum to go with for each subject, learning how your child will respond best to different teaching methods, answering people’s questions about why you are homeschooling and how you are going to socialize them (yes, I’ve already been asked those questions and we haven’t started yet!), researching the best way to keep track of your days and then spending countless hours writing (or typing) in your schedule for the year (only when you’re not following a textbook and are creating your own unit studies from scratch like I am), and gathering all the supplies you’ll need to get started. It’s a lot of work! Not that it isn’t fun, but it’s time-consuming. Especially for someone like me who loves to research and can wear herself out trying to do it all “right”.
Now I’m realizing that you can’t get this picture of “the perfect homeschool” for your family by looking for advice from ALL the other homeschoolers you meet or the homeschooling blogs you read. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful tips out there, but… it’s like when you are looking for parenting advice. Everyone does it a little differently and what works for one might not for another. You have to find your own way. The homeschooling posts that really help me right now are not the ones that tell me specifically what to do but the ones that encourage me to relax and enjoy the homeschooling journey. Not to stress. They assure me I have plenty of time with my child to make sure they know what they need to know, and tell me I can do it. So much support!
One thing I know, now that I’ve stepped back and look at the big picture, is that I’m doing the right thing and that God is with me in this. Not only that, He gave me the desire for this. I’m really looking forward to starting! I may make mistakes, but there is plenty of time to try something else, and there are many years ahead to figure out what works for my kids. And I don’t believe there’s just one way to do it. If you have ever looked at the Practical Homeschooling Facebook page, they post reader questions all the time asking for answers from other readers. Someone asks for recommendations for a reading program or a math program for their child and there are instantly 500 suggestions for all different types of curriculum and teaching approaches. As quickly as one person gushes excitedly about a curriculum being the best for their child or family, another person says it didn’t work for them and suggests something different. It really depends on your family, on your child’s learning style, on who you are and what kind of teacher you’ll be. Everyone does it a little differently and that really works – statistics still show that homeschooled kids thrive as a whole. It’s pretty amazing!
One of the best things I did once I started feeling overwhelmed was to write down specific goals for Emma to know (or have worked on) by the end of Kindergarten. So as long as we learn those things I can focus as much as I want on the literature side, getting out in nature as much as possible, etc.
I am still in the preparation stage, and I’m enjoying it. I know that when we start we may not have it all together, we may not have a perfect school day (yeah, I know that doesn’t exist!), the perfect curriculum, the perfect school room, and certainly not a perfect teacher, but we’ll read together, we’ll learn math concepts by playing (yeah, I’m done looking at math curriculum… for now), we’ll watch programs that teach, we’ll spend time outside, and we’ll spend a lot of time together.
I want to remember to give my days, my decisions, and my children to God every day. I don’t know why I started stressing so much when I know and trust that He will lead me through it all. I’m responsible, yes, but He gave me this purpose and desire to teach my kids and He will bless it.
We have so many good times ahead! I just know it. :)