Originally written in 2013
The most significant thing I have learned over the last 4 years of homeschooling while ill is to cut myself some slack.
We parents have this idea of what is ideal (or sometimes others have an idea of what is ideal) that we try to conform to. These expectations, whether from ourselves or others, often serve to discourage rather than encourage.
I have had to try to stop expecting my home or my homeschool to look like that of other people.
Here are some random ideas which have helped me:1. Never let anyone define what school should look like for you. Truthfully, who decided that school was a classroom with desks and a chalkboard? Why did they decide that and why should they get to tell you that this is how yours should look? Recently, my homeschooling has been a lot of educational movies and tv shows, including Mythbusters. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t matter how your child is learning as long as they are learning.
2. How old is the child? Until they are 7 or 8 most of what a child needs to learn can be taught in daily living…. tying shoes, counting forks, picking up toys, etc. Life teaches them so many things, and they don’t even know they are in school. Learning as a way of life is more natural than book learning… easier on teacher and student.
3. Do strangers who interact with your children think they are lacking in general education? (This would be a less biased opinion than those who know you in my experience.) My children express themselves so well that no one would guess their handwriting is as bad as my 5-year-old niece.
4. Perhaps my children would gain more knowledge in a public school, but my children are not information machines. They are fragile little souls. There is no way my children could handle the stress of being put into a traditional classroom situation. Aside from the bullying, the anti-religious mentality in the public school system, the fact that I’d have to medicate them for their ADHD in order for them to sit still through classes, and their issues with sensory problems, my children would feel emotionally rejected. Those reasons and a hundred more are the reasons that my children will never go to public school. Since I never intend to send them to public school, I don’t have to worry about if they will be “on track.” They haven’t been “on track” since the beginning. They are great and even ahead in some stuff and not-so-great in others. The advantage of homeschooling is it doesn’t matter because we aren’t using anyone else’s measuring stick. We are doing what is best for them.
5. There will be gaps in their education. This has nothing to do with you or I or any problems we have (like illnesses). All teachers leave gaps in their students education. Even public and private school teachers! We do our best, and that is all we can do. We give them the best we have. Even “normal” homeschool moms say they know that there are gaps in their children’s education. Accept it. It is a fact. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Rather than worry about those gaps, teach them to teach themselves so when they get older they can fill those gaps themselves. I have always been a self-learner. I love to learn what I need to know or want to know. I was not a good student, though. I didn’t want to learn what you wanted to teach me. I wanted to learn what interested me. Knowing how to educate yourself can serve you your whole life.
6. Studies have shown that the current method of repetitive teaching is not the most efficient. You could skip most of what a grade schooler is taught and introduce it in 7th or 8th grade and the child would learn it all so fast your head would spin. So, why suffer through it with them when they are young? (I am blessed to live in a state where the state doesn’t regulate homeschooling very tightly; know your state laws before you copy my educational approach). I have chosen to wait for some things (like grammar, writing, and spelling) until they show an interest in it or seem able to better grasp the concepts. I still work on it with them sometimes if I see that they have a need, but we don’t do a lot of it right now. With all the health issues I have, schooling must be simple.
7. I have thought I was not serving the children well, but I have to remind myself that God gave them to me to train and raise. He knew what He was doing. He knew I would be ill and be homeschooling. I honestly don’t believe that a teacher in charge of 30 children would do a better job of loving and training them than I would.
8. The things I do, I do with the best interest of my children in mind. Do I do everything right? I am sure I don’t. But, no matter what, they can never say that I didn’t love them enough to give them my very best. Even when I am sick as a dog, they know I love them, would do anything for them and have poured out my life into them. That is worth much more than any traditional education.
Update from 2016:
This educational philosophy has served me well over the last 10 years that I’ve been homeschooling. I’m amazed at how well my children have learned, grown, and developed when I allowed them to learn at their own pace and was sensitive to their emotional and spiritual needs, not just their educational development. I’m watching the fruit of my labor. It has worked better than I dared hope. And, while I can’t guarantee that any single homeschool approach will work for every child, this has certainly been a godsend to our family.