Iron Man is Swimming in My Lemonade or: What Homeschooling Has Taught Me
Recently, while talking to a good friend about homeschooling, she told me that I should write a book about it. I admit that I laughed out loud. I’m definitely not qualified to tell anyone how they should homeschool! The first few days of working with all three kids at home were absolutely insane for me. At one point I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake when, between school lessons and conference calls for my business, my son brought me a huge decorative margarita glass. It was full of lemonade and an Iron Man action figure appeared to be doing the backstroke in it. I thought for sure at that point that I was way over my head with this whole thing.
The biggest thing I’ve taken away from homeschooling so far is that there is a lot I don’t know!
However, the the more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe sharing some of my mistakes could help save someone else some chaos in their lives. So if you’re thinking about homeschooling or if you’ve just started, here are a few things that I’ve learned so far.
Requirements: Various states and places have requirements if you’re going to homeschool Some places require that you register with a full plan/curriculum in place. Some require testing. Others require regular updates and reports. It’s important that no matter where you live, you make sure to check out what’s necessary and register or plan accordingly. For me, it was relatively easy. All I had to do was let our local school know what we were doing and fill out some paperwork. It was simple and they were really nice. But this is a vitally important step, so make sure you don’t skip it!
Schedule: The first year that I homeschooled, schedule was one of my biggest issues. I figured since my daughter (I started homeschooling only one – added the other two about a year later) didn’t have to be someplace for the ‘bell’ that we could relax a little bit. She learned to sleep in and we were able to do her schooling later in the day. This worked for her. However, when the other two kids came home, it took me quite a while to figure out a schedule that worked for everyone. My son loves to be up at the crack of dawn and he’s ready to start his day the second he gets out of bed. My middle daughter loves her sleep. Wake her up too early and you will feel her wrath for the rest of the day.
We finally settled on a schedule that involved my son doing his work early (and much to his delight ‘beating’ his sisters on getting his work done), my middle daughter joining him for his ‘last’ classes to start her first and my eldest getting to work later in the afternoon. But this took a while for all of us to learn and settle on before it really started clicking. That leads us to point two.
Pressure: The public school system sets a high standard on pressure. They may not even realize they do, but with standardized testing and, in many places, educational standards tied to budgets and grants, there’s a lot of pressure put on students and teachers to perform at a certain standard. I applied this pressure to myself the first year we homeschooled. I was in an absolute panic that my daughter might not be where everyone else is on her lessons.
This pressure carried over to her and made for a miserable first year at home for her. There were many days she begged to go back to school but this was tempered by her fear of the bullying situation that brought her to homeschooling in the first place. We both struggled heavily with this pressure until a good friend told me, “You do know not to expect a lot during your first year homeschooling right?” She pointed out to me that it takes a while to learn how your child learns, how you teach, and how that all syncs up together. That one sentence relieved a world of pressure for both my daughter and I. We could both learn and do this at our own pace – without that outside pressure hovering over us. Especially with the freedom that schools don’t have.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some more things that I’ve learned while on this homeschooling journey.