Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.
When we first started homeschooling five years ago, I thought I had it all figured out.
I had a school room with a lovely, perfectly organized set of books, curriculum, and manipulatives. I had a bell, all set and ready to ring for start time, break time, and lunch time.
It was going to be amazing.
And it was.
For exactly one day.
Then reality hit. My children did not do well in a school environment. It was one of the reasons they were no longer going to school. So why was I trying to recreate that exact environment in our home?
I am consistently the biggest problem in our homeschool journey.
I don’t say this with shame or regret. This isn’t about beating myself up.
In fact, as I type this, I am smiling, shaking my head, and thinking of all the ways that this has played out in the past five years:
- Like the time I was convinced that my sons needed to be in classes at least one day a week, so that they could be social and learn from a better teacher than me. (Let me just repeat what I already wrote: A school environment did not work well for my children. It was obvious. But I am a slow learner, and apparently really like spending money on registration fees and classes that we will only attend for approximately two weeks until I remember why we pulled them out of school and homeschool in the first place.)
- Or the time I thought I really needed to add knitting and crochet to our curriculum. (Because that is what every prepubescent special needs child needs – to try desperately to complete a fine motor skill task that even his mom can’t do.)
- Or the time I was sure that if we started school every day by 8:30 a.m., we would somehow be more focused and actually learn all the things. (Incidentally, reading this post by Kris completely changed my mind on this one, but not before enduring many frustrating mornings trying rush my children to comply with a schedule that made no sense for our family’s needs.)
As I reflect on these examples, and about 34,000 more, I am learning that most of the time, the biggest problem I have in homeschooling my children, is me.
It never feels that way in the moment. In fact, while my expectations have very little to do with my reality (and if I am honest, are more about comparing myself to what everyone else is doing), I am most likely to blame my children.
Sad but true.
“If they would just ___________.”
(Fill in the blank here: wake up earlier, do what I am asking them, not be so resistant, sit still for a few minutes, let me read the lovely read-aloud, not ask me seven times for a snack, just complete the math worksheet so we can move on, etc., etc., etc.)
Too often, I think if they would just be the learners I want them to be, instead of the ones that they actually are, I would be an amazing homeschooling mom.
And it helps no one.
Because the truth is, this has nothing to do with me being amazing.
It has nothing to do with my children doing what all of the other homeschool kids seemingly do so well.
I am learning that homeschooling is about helping them learn in the ways that actually work.
It is about helping them feel confident and excited about the world around them, despite their special needs and the barriers they face in that world.
This is about ditching my expectations of how homeschooling should be, and instead leaning in to what it actually is for us: audiobooks in the car, spelling tests in Minecraft, YouTube videos in bed on a sick day, heading to the park and letting my son move and play while I read aloud, and writing stories on the windows with washable markers.
None of this is how I think it “should” be. None of this matches the picture I have in my head. And yet all of this is how my children learn best.
The more I embrace the creative, out of the box, never a dull moment boys that I have been given, the easier this homeschool gig becomes.
They learn more. They enjoy my company, and I theirs. They engage in the world. They are excited to learn.
And that matches my expectations for our homeschool perfectly.
Do your own expectations ever create stumbling blocks in your homeschool?