I enjoy striking up a conversation with other Moms around the city. We share introductions and start the typical “first time Moms meet” convo. The same questions are usually exchanged. Ages of our kids, where we live or most frequent with and without them, and schooling choice.
“I homeschool…” And sometimes that’s when it gets a little quiet.
I wonder at the hesitation.
The look I receive appears to say something like, “How in the world is homeschooling possible with that many babies under foot? Are your school aged kids actually learning anything?” For a while I wasn’t sure exactly what to say next. I found myself responding along the lines of “Yeah, it’s organized chaos, but I really love it.”
I have lived all over the country and homeschooling culture here in Waco is thick. In other places we lived, there weren’t as many homeschoolers, thus people didn’t talk about it as much. Here in Texas there is every option available and Moms love sharing what they do, asking questions and being involved in a homeschooling community. Even the Moms that don’t homeschool know a lot about what Waco offers for homeschoolers.
From unschooling to teaching Latin in preschool, the options are endless. Preferences can make curriculum choices and finding a homeschooling style just as overwhelming as picking a public, charter, or private school. I think every Mom has felt this push and pull while making choices for our kids.
I currently homeschool a first grader and a preschooler (just turned 5). My 3 yr old, 2 year old and 1 year old join us for most everything as well. The main question I get is…”Do they all come to the school table?” Well, in true Montessori fashion, school is much more than coming to a table for us. One of the beauties of homeschooling is finding what works for you and then confidently moving forward doing just that.
Key words: confidently moving forward.
I have a B.A. in Elementary Education and I am the first one to be hard on myself and on my kids. I want to compare my children. I want to line them up on a graph, assess their weaknesses, confirm their strengths and push them to the next milestone. I want to criticize myself, criticize my kids and make things more functional as a whole. I am learning more and more that being confident of what is right in front of you makes a world of difference.
Obviously I have not mastered homeschooling as I only have a first grader. I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg. I am, however, learning to be confident in the season of school that we are presently in and embracing it as just that…a season. Each school year may look different and another beauty of homeschooling is growing with my students. I want to inspire learning for everyone in my home, including myself.
Moving here I felt the pressure to join something and involve myself in a list of homeschooling groups, but a great friend reminded me “If nothing is broke, don’t try to fix it.” She was right. I still didn’t feel settled in this new place, our home was barely unpacked and I didn’t know just yet how the fall might feel. I was glad I prayed, waited and figured out the best decision for my family. A month later we found out about something even better than an extracurricular… a 6th baby. I didn’t need one more thing on my calendar while pregnant just for the sake of being a part of something.
It is hard not to cave to the pressure of participating in all the great things others are involved in. It is really hard to say no to ‘good’ things, but it has to be done. In my efforts to seek ‘perfection’ in homeschooling, I often make perfect the enemy of good. I have had to learn that sometimes keeping it simple allows me to do more with less. If what you have works for your family, be content and confident in that. With that confidence, realize everyone else doesn’t need to fully understand why you or I do what we do. You don’t have justify your reasoning with strangers, your in-laws, or your neighbor down the street.
We have been having babies these past few years and the tiny hands are in everything. I may not do as much art as I would like to right now, but that is perfectly alright. King’s Academy, as we call ourself, may look entirely different when the babies aren’t pulling every crayon out and all the kids are reading/writing.
If new Mom friends ask about school and there is a slightly awkward silence, I now know how to respond.
We have a wonderful schedule. We have a wonderful flow of school, life and learning. My kids love me being their teacher and I love them being my students. There are really hard days and there are also really beautiful days.
We are often our harshest critics. With anything we choose for our children, our decisions are never airtight. We merely do our best with what we have, what we envision and what we hope is the right decision. With the ages of my children, my personality and our family’s parenting vision, full-time homeschooling is currently the perfect fit for us. As our kids grow and change, our schooling options may also change.