This winter holidays marks one year of homeschooling for us. We have had so much fun, tried so many new things and I’ve learnt a thing or two as a homeschool mama along the way.
1. Prioritise your child over your philosophy
There are some inspired ideas out there in the homeschool world. I was blown away by the number of different home education models there were to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Steiner/Waldorf, Classical, Unschooling and Natural Learning, Eclectic, Reggio and other Enquiry-Based models, Project-Based Learning, Unit Studies…and seriously, that list is not even complete! And they all sound amazing.
You can fall in love with a method on paper and discover it just does not work for your kid. Or for you! Maybe you like one aspect and not another. But guess what? You CAN change models. You can pick and mix like this is the lolly counter at the cinema.
Don’t let yourself become so married to a philosophy that you struggle through when it isn’t making your child happy, or you dread the thought of delivering another day’s lessons. Change tracks. Even if it’s mid-term and you’ve just had your yearly plan approved by the power’s that be. Take the week off, regroup and come back with something new.
I also think it’s really important not to let ourselves be talked into a method by its champions. Some bloggers and ‘experts’ have a way of making you think their way is not just the best way, but the only way. It’s very easy to let yourself be sucked in by their…let’s say enthusiasm.
No one knows you and your child like you do. If you love what you are doing, go with it. If a particular method just doesn’t speak to you, forget about it. If you want to swap and swap back, or take a little of this and a little of that, do it!
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of community
There will probably come a time (or two) when you think, ‘I can’t take another day of this. I want to give up’. I know some truly AH-MAZING women who are rockin’ this homeschool biz like it’s nobody’s business. They inspire me on daily basis. And even they have admitted to their moments.
Some days (weeks…dare I say months???) it can all feel too hard and the pull of public school can be pretty powerful. Do NOT underestimate the power of your homeschooling community to see you through.
These parents will get you. They will be there to share war stories, to inspire you, to give you suggestions, to bounce ideas off. They will be your shoulder to cry on and your biggest cheer squad. These wise women will celebrate your triumphs right there alongside you.
I couldn’t imagine how I would have made it through the last year without the friendships I have made within the homeschool community. If you get nothing else accomplished in your homeschool year, make sure you find yourself (and your children) a community to be part of.
3. Believe in yourself
Believe in yourself but don’t take yourself too seriously. Society wants us all to be pretty much the same. It’s comfortable for everyone that way.Homeschooling is just a little different and doing something different takes guts. You need to believe in what you are doing and in your ability to do it.
That doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone makes mistakes, has a few terrible ideas and their fair share of grumpy days. It makes us human.
Laugh at yourself. Like yourself. Care for yourself. Your children are watching and learning from you. Teach them that confidence and self-belief come from within. Teach them to try new things, to learn from mistakes, to fall down then get right back up and keep going. Teach them self-respect by respecting yourself. Teach them to fight for what they believe in.
Not everyone is going to agree with your decision to homeschool, or with the unique way you decide to go about it. That’s ok. So long as you believe in yourself and in the choice you have made for your family. You’ve got this mama!