If you are a homeschooler, may I ask you an honest question? Here it is:
Have you ever wanted to quit homeschooling?
I think if we could all sit around a table and talk together, we would be surprised at how much we have in common when it comes to this question! We would laugh with deep relief as we discovered we weren’t the only ones harboring thoughts of an easier path. . . And, once we felt the freedom that comes from being real, once we knew it was okay to admit we had those thoughts. . .THEN we could think honestly about why we homeschool and if it's worth it to continue.
For me, my decision to homeschool came when I was pregnant with our first child. A friend handed me a book about homeschooling, and I found the whole concept utterly entrancing! Pictures of perfect days with perfect children danced through my head. . . You probably know how long that image lasted! Yes, it popped just after a few days of teaching my kindergarten student at home (with two younger ones who kept things hopping). Though the dreams had been perfect, the somewhat painful reality was that kids learn differently than I expected, they struggled with things I enjoyed and they enjoyed things that were outside my comfort zone.
And, being a novice homeschooler, I had simply followed the model of school in my head. We had a desk, an apple, an American flag. I knew when we would have reading, writing and recess. I had all my ducks in a row at the beginning of the school year, but my son wasn’t a duck. He was a little boy with all kinds of ideas and interests that were outside the kindergarten "curriculum."
After a month of struggling with increasing difficulties, like making boring textbooks palatable, I was struck by my son's doleful question: “Mom, do we HAVE to keep doing this?” I realized that I didn't like it any more than he did. So, I quietly put all the kindergarten books away, and discretely went back to doing the things we had been doing before:
reading books, playing with play dough, taking walks, cooking together, playing with music, and enjoying everyday life.
It took three years of trying this start-and-stop approach to homeschool before it dawned on me that he loved learning a LOT more when we quit doing artificial, fill-in-the-blank, desk-bound school. When he had a chance to really engage with material, to freely ask as many questions as he wanted and dig into answers, and to follow his interests down the rabbit trails, my son loved learning.
Which brings me back to the idea of quitting. In the three years that I tried to force him into a narrow educational box, I felt like quitting every day. It was hard, it was distasteful, and I was failing miserably as a “teacher.” But, to my utter surprise, when we finally discovered the freedom to learn in ways that were appealing to my son, homeschool became an adventure and a joy.
And, who wants to quit when you love what you’re doing???
Need more inspiration to keep going?