5 things I need to remember about homeschooling this time of year ~
Written by Shawna Wingert of Different by Design Learning
We are getting ready to close out not only another year, but an entire decade.
For me, this past decade has had one constant source of frustration, stress, joy and fun – homeschooling.
As we head into Christmas and the new year, I find I am reflecting on all the things I thought would be true about homeschooling and all the things I now know are true about homeschooling.
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No matter how many years we have been a homeschooling family, I find I still question myself and our approach to learning far more than seems helpful.
With this in mind, I thought I would share with you the five things I want to remember as we get ready to head into the new year.
5 Things I Need To Remember About Homeschooling
1. Progress looks different from one year to the next.
I almost need to remind myself of this every week (as in “progress looks different from one week to the next”!). As I look back over the past few years, I see that so much of what my children learn is fluid – much more than my traditional school background allows me to believe.
Instead of a linear progression, from one grade level to the next, my experience has been that my children often seem to stop making progress at all for a period of time. Then, all of a sudden, they jump ahead. It’s tough on my carefully laid lesson plans, but it is exactly what naturally happens for most children over time.
In the new year, I want to remember that progress looks a lot more like a series of circles, than it does one long line from ages 5-18.
2. Time matters.
Time is also a significant factor in my sons’ progression as learners. As much pressure as I put on myself to do all the things to help my kids, the truth is, sometimes, they are just not ready to learn new concepts.
Call it brain development. Call it immaturity. Call it mom being too eager. Whatever the reason, I need to remember that time and simply growing up matters so much more than I give it credit for.
A great example of this is my oldest son’s ability to write. Oh my goodness, I used to freak out about this on a daily basis. I was sure he would never be able to put two sentences together, much less write a 5 paragraph essay for high school language arts.
While it is still a bit of a challenge for him on occasion, he is so much more capable in writing now. What changed? Absolutely nothing except that he matured as time passed. It wasn’t the curriculum. It wasn’t my failure as his teacher. It wasn’t his resistance.
He simply needed more time.
3. Priorities change, and that’s okay.
In the past year, I have come to accept and maybe even embrace the reality that sometimes, academics are not a priority in our homeschool.
My youngest son was diagnosed last year with a significant immunological illness. It has changed every single thing about his life and mine.
What he eats, how we prepare for trips out of the house, the amount of rest he needs each day and the depression that comes from feeling bad all the time – all have taken top priority for him this year.
As such, homeschooling has been a lot more about managing blood draws and restful self-care for him and daily planning around the most basic things for me. It has to be this way, and yet, for a while, I found myself feeling really guilty about not pulling out the math book every day.
The truth is, even if my son were in a traditional school, he would’ve missed an awful lot of math last year. No one would question it.
The same needs to be true for our homeschool as well.
4. It all counts.
As my boys get older, it is so much easier to see that all the things we do on a daily basis “count” as learning.
The cooking, the cleaning, the conversations with doctors, the making the to-do lists, the gardening, the navigation while driving, the online shopping – the longer my children are involved in the day to day details of life, the more I tend to see it as a part of our homeschool as well.
They have learned more about history from random conversations based on YouTube videos we’ve watched than any curriculum text. My oldest can create a budget and shop online independently, because we do it all the time in our everyday life.
It may not “look like school,” but it all counts as learning.
5. I really do love it.
I only have a year and a half left homeschooling my oldest son, and four and a half years with my youngest.
Perhaps the most important thing I want to remember this year is that I love this time with my children. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, and consider it a privilege to be able to learn with them everyday.
Even on the most challenging days, I want a reminder that this is true. I adore these kids and I love being their mom and teacher.
This is my personal list for the new year. How about you? What do you want to remember about homeschooling in 2020?
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