Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Words of Encouragement on Homeschooling

Want to post this before I forget... this is a post on one of my email groups from my dear friend Karla Wiegrefe and I've heard this all many times from her, but it is ALWAYS encouraging to hear, especially coming from a veteran homeschooler :)

Do not feel alone ... so many homeschool moms keep quiet their "secret" of "failure". Most are convinced that everyone else has it together and they are the *only one* who can't:
a) get their schedule straight b) have a clean home c) get their kids to cooperated) get motivated) turn in statement of intents on time)
In being open with my struggles (which is a huge vulnerability), I have discovered that there are sooooo many of us out there. Women who are relieved when they finally hear someone else say these things. Women who love their kids, who are overwhelmed or numb or unsupported or depressed or all of the above. Realizing we are not alone takes off some of the pressure...
What has brought me comfort over the years is a quote I saw long ago from some expert. "The worst run homeschool is better than the best run public school." Yeah it sounds harsh. I'm not sure if it is true in the strictest sense (there are some pretty solid alternative learning style schools out there). But I still keep that quote in my head. And I claim it as my own. "Well, this better be true because I think I qualify for the worst run homeschool." (Intellectually, I know this is not true ... we have many years of radical unschooling, in other words "unschooling by default", under our belts ... but I'd say the worst run homeschool is one where the kids are being kept home for other purposes, like to hide abuse etc and in other words, they are not homeschooling at all but instead simply hiding abuse under the blanket of supposedly homeschooling. NONE of us fall into that mold.).
I've also been known to pray ... that God would know my heart, know what my intentions are, know what my weaknesses and faults are ... and honor my efforts and intentions and make up for what is lacking in me.
Whenever I'm stuck in one of these "bad places", I pick up a smarmy catalog selling clothing to teenagers (I saw one particularly horrifying one a few years ago ... it asked questions throughout the pages ... "Do you like girls or boys?" etc lots of gender homosexual type questions!) Or I watch the latest hot sitcom. Or I rent the movie causing the latest buzz. I see what other kids accept as "normal", what they love. It reminds me that homeschooling is something I'm doing for more than merely academics.
I talk to women who have children in school. I try to pick moms whose kids are a lot like mine ~ the struggling reader, the one diagnosed with ADHD, the brilliant artist, etc. I hear their struggles and triumphs, their frustrations with the school system and how it isn't meeting the needs of their kids, the things they like, etc. Basically, it's about getting real about the entire thing.
And then I look at my own situation through reality lenses ... are things really as bad as they seem? What good things have I seen happen throughout the years? What are the advantages of radical unschooling (because there are some *glorious* ones)? Where are my kids now compared to where they were a year ago?
And conversely ... what would make me feel good about myself as a homeschooler? What is one thing I see that is a small change that I can realistically accomplish? Sometimes it means renting some educational videos from the library or reading a book with my kids once per day or doing a project we can all be proud of (maybe a simple lap book?).
The thing to remember is there is no "right" way to homeschool. This is especially true with the young ones. Many kids are not ready to pursue serious studies until they are a little older. Especially boys. Raymond and Dorothy Moore have some classic homeschooling books including one called _Better Late than Early_ and they talk about studies of kids that show waiting until they are older is often the better choice. Boys are often not ready to dive into homeschooling (especially reading) until they are 10. Consider reading this book. It will probably take a huge weight off your shoulders ...
I think part of it too is we put sooooo much pressure on ourselves to do all these things w/ our homeschool that sometimes we don't get ANY Of it done. What if the only thing you required of yourself was to get your Statement of Intent in? Make up two of them. One for this year and the other for next year (I never did anything that smart, hmmm). Have a holy filing place where it's easy to find and get in by the deadline. I spent years where I didn't get my SOI in until after Christmas (sometimes waaaay after argh). Now we get it in by Oct every year. A miracle!!! Only took us 5 years. :)
Well, the kids are boiling over so I gotta run...

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