homeschooling

Dear Homeschool Curriculum: You’re Not the Boss of Me

Dear Homeschool Curriculum,

You’re not the boss of me.

But, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

You are like a stern older teacher looking over her reading glasses at me disapprovingly, making me feel like a huge loser, but I have learned to ignore you.

I wish someone had told me that trying to follow you to the letter of your law would make me miserable.

I wish someone had told me that trying to follow you to the letter of your law would make my children miserable.

I wish someone had told me that strictly adhering to you would make my children resent me and cause problems in our relationship, making them feel like I cared more about your plan than I did them.

I wish someone had told me that not even public school and private school teachers adhere to you legalistically or even complete all of your pages but that they only pick and choose the parts of you that they need for their classes.

I wish someone had told me that the recommendations within your covers were just that —recommendations— and that children have unique needs that do not always, match your cold, rational, black-and-white plan.

I wish someone had told me it was okay to not do everything in your plan –it would have alleviated a lot of homeschool mom guilt when my child learned at his own pace like the unique and individual person that he is instead of in the way you said he was supposed to.

I wish someone had said it’s okay not to finish you and that we didn’t need to double up if we got behind.

I wish someone had told me that my fear of getting behind by not doing all of you was unfounded —that there is no behind in homeschool.

I wish someone had told me that “do the next thing” was a legitimate homeschool schedule and not just taking the easy way out, so I could just ignore whatever schedule was written in your pages.

I wish someone had told me to ignore you when you said to give glitter and glue to a 4-year-old and to do elaborate art projects with my children who have developmental disorders and fine motor skill problems.

I wish someone had told me that I wasn’t depriving my children when skipping the bazillion crafts, science experiments, and various assignments that made my children hate me and made me want to claw my own eyes out.

Even when I did skip those activities I felt guilty because you told me I was supposed to do them, and if I didn’t do what you said, I felt like a failure; I wish someone had said I wasn’t a failure –I was a teacher, and good teachers do what works best for their students to learn.

I wish I had learned earlier that you are not my boss!

You are just a tool —just one tool of many, many tools.

You’re a tool, but you are, by no means, my master.

I’m the master!

You’re a just book —which isn’t even necessarily the best homeschool tool out there!

I wish someone had said that just because other moms worship you and are willing to sacrifice their firstborn to you in the name of “a proper education” does not mean that I had to –and that I would be better without your or with very little of you.

I wish someone had told me that the best learning is not what kids only see in your pages, but that the best learning is multisensory, fun, child-led, and that which the kid doesn’t hate.

I wish someone had told me that media is a completely viable and legitimate learning method –not a cop-out for moms who couldn’t teach “the right way,” that the right way isn’t with books and worksheets: it’s whatever works best for the child.

I wish someone had told me that no child has a life-changing moment when doing one of your boring worksheets and that it was okay to throw it out in favor of joy-filled learning!

I wish someone had told me that putting my child’s needs first was the right way to homeschool.

I wish someone had told me it was okay to use you in any way that worked for me —regardless of your creator’s original intentions.

I wish someone had given me permission to burn you and all your friends if you didn’t work for my child’s needs; to try something new and then to keep trying new things until I found what worked for us with no guilt.

I wish someone had given me permission to free myself of all y’all and just enjoy my children and enjoy teaching them.

I wish I hadn’t been your slave for so long.

I wish someone had told me that our best learning would happen apart from you and that you were a self-imposed prison that I could free myself from.

I wish I had revolted a long time ago and ignored that voice in my head that said that you were “the right way” to educate my children.

I wish I could free the hundreds and thousands of homeschool moms out there who are shackled to you and making their children miserable not knowing they could be free, not realizing that they can say no to any or all of your recommendations or even throw out all of you and your friends if that’s what’s best for their child!

I wish I had followed my children’s interest and preferences a long time ago instead of expecting them to conform their interest to what you were forcing upon them.

I wish I had freed myself long ago from the shame associated with not doing your plan or not completing all your pages.

I wish someone had just told me that it is entirely and wholly right for me to do what worked best for my children regardless of what you or any expert said because you do not know and love my child like I do nor are you invested in them like I am.

I wish someone had told me that it was wrong to force my child to use you if you were causing emotional and psychological damage by pushing too hard or moving too fast or making them feel like a failure.

I wish someone had told me that you-based learning, meaning book-based learning, works really well for only one type of learning style but not all learning styles.

I wish someone had told me that you are a very small part of my children’s real education, that their real education is being my apprentice in real life and that you should never trump exposure to real life situations.

Basically, I wish I had trusted my instincts as a mom over you a long, long time ago.

And, I can guarantee you, I’ll never make that mistake again.

Because, you’re not the boss of me!

You never really were —but I just didn’t know it.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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