Written by Caitlin Curley of My Little Poppies
So there is this thing that happens when you homeschool, but it doesn’t happen right away.
At least, it didn’t for me.
You see, I’m one of the unexpected homeschoolers. I landed here swiftly and without warning and it took a good long while for me to adjust to our new normal.
But, eventually, it starts to happen.
At first, it’s subtle.
Maybe you ease up on your planning or your record keeping.
Maybe you stop relentlessly crossing off all those to-dos in your mind.
Maybe you even lighten up on yourself and concede that you’re doing a pretty good job at this homeschooling thing, most of the time.
After a little while, during a moment of clarity, you see that you have relaxed into homeschooling. You have, for the most part, shaken off the public school mindset. You’ve learned firsthand that school and learning are two entirely different things and one can exist without the other.
You’ve realized that learning happens all the time when you relax and let it.
And, boy, does that feel good. Because it gives you permission to take everything down a notch or two and just breathe.
You can stop worrying about where you are in that workbook, or why you’ve been reading the same chapter book for way too long, or about all those field trips you had hoped to complete by now.
You can give yourself space to just be.
When you relax into it, everything becomes educational. It’s as if homeschooling has given you a new lens with which to view the world and its endless lessons, from laundry to lunch to paying bills.
Every moment holds opportunity for learning.
I call this homeschool mindfulness.
Homeschool mindfulness, for me, is the ability to allow learning to happen in the moment. It’s about letting go of control and trusting that your children will learn. It’s less about your plan and more about your children’s interests and natural curiosity and diving down rabbit holes.
When you achieve homeschool mindfulness, amazing learning can happen. And the best part is that it feels easier and, dare I say, fun.
The problem is, I’ve never been able to achieve homeschool mindfulness and stay there.
I can stay there for a few days, a few weeks, sometimes even a couple months. But sooner or later, something interrupts it.
A worry creeps in.
Maybe I read an article that makes me question an element of our homeschooling.
Or perhaps there are one too many obligations to balance and my world feels off-kilter.
And, of course, there is always February to contend with.
Whatever the cause, I start to dwell too much on the future, and all of the must-dos and have-to-dos that come with it. I lose our homeschool mindfulness. Every. Single Time.
Without fail, the urgency sinks back in. And the doubt. And the stress.
And, too often, the tears.
Once you lose the homeschool mindfulness, it’s tough to get it back. And so we muddle through, and try our best, all the while hoping for its return.
Well, I’m happy to report that this week we achieved it. After a winter filled with too many obligations, a killer case of homeschool hibernation, and an endlessly gray spring, an amazing thing happened.
One morning, we woke up to find a pair of blue jays outside our kitchen window. While we ate our breakfast, we watched as the pair collected twigs and roots with which to build a nest. It was mesmerizing. The two worked together, furiously, tugging and pulling and gathering.
The moment was interrupted by my youngest, who joyfully shouted, “Look! You can see the nest spot!”
We gathered together and looked up through the kitchen skylight to where he was pointing. And, sure enough, he was right. The blue jays kept returning to the same branch with their loot. We were witnessing them build their home, right from our kitchen island.
In that moment, I realized our homeschool mindfulness had returned. Everything had shifted. Just like that.
If we had been rushing or worrying, we would have missed the moment. Instead, we paused and enjoyed it. We were learning together in the now, not worrying about later or tomorrow or next year.
Quickly, I snapped a [terrible] photo of the couple. I wanted to save the moment, so I could remember it later when I felt the mindfulness slipping from my grasp.
I don’t want to lose the homeschool mindfulness this time.
I want it to stick.
This time, I’m determined to hang onto it for as long as I can. Here is what I am going to try to do, even when life gets crazy:
I am going to try to breathe, to make eye contact, to smile, and to be present in this moment.
I am going to try to spend less time planning and more time doing.
We will try to spend more time outdoors than in.
I sure hope it sticks around this time.
Do you feel this way too?
Breathe, homeschool mama. We’ve got this.
Tell us in the comments – what helps you feel mindfulness as a homeschooler?