Written by contributor Hillary Boucher of infinitely learning
When I was pregnant with my first born I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what it meant to be a parent.
After he was born I learned quickly that he came with his own personality and needs that didn’t necessarily fit into my philosophies or chosen approaches.
And thus, was the beginning of a seven year long journey of learning that parenting philosophies don’t necessarily translate well into every day practical applications.
If I were to give a new mom some advice I would say:
“Follow your gut.
Don’t listen to the books.
Take care of yourself and take care of your baby.
There are no right or wrong answers.”
I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds because, on some level, I’m always a new parent. Every time my oldest son has a growth spurt or hits a new phase we’re back to square one.
This is very uncomfortable for me. I would much prefer to act from the confidence that comes from experience. For example, parenting my third and youngest child through the toddler years is no sweat. With her, we laugh instead of worry.
But my sweet eldest wears the brunt of our worry and our inexperience.
And so it is with homeschooling. While I’ve explored many philosophies and done a lot of thinking and writing about how children learn, I find myself a novice with the day to day applications. And just like every other phase of his life, teaching him to use the potty or ride a bike – it’s all new to me.
Do I zig or do I zag here? Is this a place where I need to push or let go? Am I going to regret insisting on a curriculum or regret never using one at all?
On the homeschool days where I feel like a brand new parent all over again and find myself having trouble making decisions from a place of confidence, I find I need to shift my focus to values that help guide my decisions.
May I have the courage to make decision with and for my son even when I don’t have the right answer.
May I walk this journey with humility, acknowledging that my decisions won’t always be the right ones and I will make mistakes. May I draw from a deep well of compassion for both myself, my partner and my son as we figure it out together.
May I make decisions based out of respect for his autonomous person-hood. May I be clear that this is not my life. He is not me and he does not have to do things the same way that I did/do them. May I respect him when he holds his ground and reminds me of this truth.
May I walk this journey with my heart wide open and may by actions be grounded in love.
I know some of our biggest challenges as homeschoolers are practical ones and focusing on values isn’t always the most helpful approach.
After all, love doesn’t take standardized tests and humility doesn’t pass your college entrance exams, but they do lay the foundation for good decision making.
And without the practical experience of having walked through the homeschooling journey my values are one of the only things I can be sure of.
How is homeschooling your younger children different than your firstborn? And how do you make decisions about your eldest’s homeschool when you aren’t sure of the right answers?