My friend and blogging partner Jean jokes that I have had many “official starts” to this homeschooling year. There was the soft start on August 17th, when I slowly eased into homeschooling and worried about what I was leaving out of the curriculum. Then there was the official start on August 24th, when I jumped headfirst into homeschooling, and worried about what I was leaving out of the curriculum. Then there was August 31st, when I started planning ahead for the week, and worried about what I was leaving out of the curriculum. Then the week of September 7, when a holiday threw off the schedule and I worried about what I was leaving out of the curriculum. Then this week, which has started with a field trip, another scheduling challenge, and I am worried about what I am leaving out of the curriculum.
Let me back up. Homeschooling is something I always thought I wanted to do, but I have reservations. I loved school. My girls loved school. Not everything about it, all of the time, but overall, we loved it. And we love teachers, and administrators, and the school smell and the structure and the friendships. All of it.
But I am also intrigued by homeschooling. By the ability to teach my girls about our faith, and to start them early on foreign languages, and to fill in the gaps that, in my 9 year old, were already starting to become problematic. I want time with them and experiences and to bond in a way that will hopefully become like an anchor to them through the possibly tumultuous years ahead. I want to know their friends and the moms of their friends and the things they are learning and what makes them tick. And even as I say this, I don’t know if homeschooling is for me. I’m still not sure I have it in me. And I definitely have reservations when I look at the future. I take it one day at a time.
And I want to document the journey, for me and for anyone else out there like me, who may not be all in and may wake up wondering if they are crazy for trying this whole “homeschool experiment” but are willing to dive in anyway and give it a try.
Here is where I am at right this minute, homeschooling my two daughters, a 4th grader and a 2nd grader.
I count August 24 as my official start. It was, frankly, an exhausting blur. I was still very much unfamiliar with the curriculum, and was trying to figure it out along with my girls. My 4th grader thought it charming to change classrooms for different subjects and to have a packed lunch, so I found myself running from room to room between both of my students and packing elaborate lunches for outdoor picnics. I was moving at breakneck speed, and I got sick. I was also faced with the fact that my 2nd grader wanted to lay around and play Minecraft in her PJs, and was challenging my role as her teacher. I careened into our first Friday morning coop, happy to see friends, and barely able to catch my breath.
I started off this week more organized, and more realistic. I had learned a thing or two about what worked, and what didn’t, the first week, and I was determined to implement a few new things this week. I took longish writing assignments off the plate of my 2nd grader, for now, and focused on her love of reading and spelling. I allowed my 4th grader plenty of room to read aloud and do presentations and work on projects, which she loves. I squeezed in too many playdates to alleviate my guilt at separating my girls from their friends. I still felt like I spent every minute selling my 4th grader on homeschooling, but that was coming from me, not from her. She was going with the flow and adjusting well. And still I was sick.
Progress this week was hampered by a holiday, a brief cold for my 4th grader, a major deadline for me, and various other interruptions, but we stumbled through, accomplish much, but not all, that I had scheduled. I learned flexibility, and took stock again of their curriculum and extracurriculars and everything that we had on our plate. I was still sick, but convinced myself it was allergies and muddled on, until I woke up one morning and admitted that I too had a cold.
Today started with a field trip with other homeschoolers and some carschooling. To keep it simple, the carschooling was heavy on technology, using apps for math, language arts and languages. I am going into this week organized, focused, and still a little sick, but I am learning a little more every day, making some changes to curriculum, and getting my “homeschool legs.” And I am slightly less terrified every day than I was before. My 2nd grader is still bringing me to my knees, every single day, if not every hour, but I am finding things to engage and excite her and I am trying to see that as a challenge and not as an obstacle.
I am very very tired. But hopeful. As a brand new homeschool mom, I find myself challenged every single day, and I know that the challenges will keep coming. Tomorrow, a sneak peek at what I am using to teach my kids, and the helpful resources and tools I’ve discovered.