The following is a guest post by Lisa Kremer of Life is a Journey.
In my house, everyone is ecstatic when summer holidays officially arrive – usually on a random day in June when I finally “give up” and put away the school books.
Then we commit ourselves to spend as many waking moments as possible soaking in the summer: sleeping in, playing outdoors and having not a care in the world. With summer, I can finally let go of the anxiety and stress of expectation and requirement. I can stop feeling frustrated at kids for not “liking” to write.
I can forget about the pages of math that we forgot to correct.
And I can hopefully forget that I’m not always the homeschooling mother that I wish I could be.
In our school district, we have tri-yearly reviews of our homeschool. At the end of the year, my facilitator will sit down, look over samples of each child’s work and grade them according to the following scale: 1) Exceeded Expectations 2) Met Expectations or 3) Work in Progress.
In the midst of all of this stomach-churning anxiety of assessment of not just my children’s achievements, but ultimately my “teaching skills,” I’m often left sitting at the table wondering how I would score.
If I’m brutally honest, there are an awful lot of moments when I feel like I deserve an “F.”
Way back when I was a first-time mother, I sat in the nursery at our church with the other moms and we discussed our little prodigies’ futures. We’d swap stories about baby poo and spit-up, and dream how we would be rewarded with many wonderful years of motherhood that would see us raising highly successful, socially adept and absolutely gorgeous children.
Part of the discussion revolved around education – and because I had homeschooled for 6 years of my life, I became the expert opinion on alternatives in schooling. I painted a rosy picture of homeschool life – and I believed in it, and managed to convince several of my friends to join me in this fantastic endeavor.
We would have children who could think outside the box and outperform, outwit and completely awe the average public-schooled child. We would be Superhero Homeschool Mamas!
Fast-forward a decade or so. I now have a full 9 years of “official” homeschooling (kindergarten excluded) under my belt. Somewhere between Pythagorean’s Theorem and the War of 1812, I lost a lot of my confidence and bravado.
Unfortunately, no matter what season life brings and no matter what attitudes I face each morning, I’m supposed to be teaching, and they are supposed to be reaching academic milestones. All the while, I’m supposed to be creative, patient and extraordinarily energetic as I cover all the bases with my children!
This summer has been about refreshment and reaffirming myself in the role of a homeschooling mom. Because sometimes the lines become blurred, and I’m asking all the wrong questions. I said that sometimes I feel like I deserve an “F.” But an “F” isn’t on the table.
I can choose option 3) “Work in Progress.”
I choose to label myself not as a failure, but as someone who keeps on trying and is a work in progress.
Because as a mom, I have just as much to learn about parenting and homeschooling as my kids have to learn about algebra and history. To be honest, I think we often use the wrong diagnostics when it comes to measuring our success as a homeschooling family.
When I started out, I decided that for me, homeschooling wasn’t about re-producing a school in my home – rather it was to create a learning, caring environment for growth and exploration.
Sometimes this looks like my little boys making a “potion” in the wheelbarrow — with mud, rocks, water and my brand new special soap. (Grrrrr!!!) Sometimes it looks like my oldest daughter cutting up her T-shirts to try new fashion ideas. Sometimes it looks like my eldest boy staying up way too late, unable to put down a good novel and go to sleep for the night.
Good homeschooling, I think, is measured by living life as a work in progress – always ready to learn.
After 9 years running, I realize no, I don’t have to be a Super-Star Homeschool Mama. In fact, I could be a Super-Average Homeschool Mama, with the right resources and the right support, and we will do great.
This summer, it’s my turn to learn, and part of my education is embracing the fact that my children are not the only ones homeschooling. I am part of the learning process. I am a work in progress as a homeschool mom. I’m not giving up on them, and I shouldn’t give up on me.
I’m ready to play, explore, and enjoy my kids – without expectation or obligation.
But I’m also ready for an adventurous, challenging year 10. As I accept the challenge of this journey and embrace the learning process required by my role, I have hope.
What is summer the time for in your family?