September-October 2010 Selected Content
First Year Homeschool Blues - Morgan River
Ash is getting ready to help the seeds start their journey.
As we got closer to the beginning of the school year, my stomach churned and knotted. In one and a half months, our oldest daughter would be starting kindergarten. Of course, we were going to homeschool.
Years before we tried for our first child, my husband and I had many discussions of our ideals for child rearing. I was homeschooled from age 13 until I graduated. I loved it! I absolutely hated school, and both of us thought it to be incredibly boring. We desperately wanted our children to have better options.
I was so excited about homeschooling that I started reading homeschooling materials before we gave birth to our first child! I did all the research: books, web sites, blogs, magazines and talking to friends and anyone else to get a feel of what we were to expect. In my heart, I knew that we had definitely made the right decision.
However, as we got closer to our official start date, I found myself doubting whether we were doing the right thing. All the what if questions were rearing their ugly heads: What if I mess the kids up somehow? What if they regret they didn't go to school? What if I'm not smart enough to teach them? What if I'm not patient enough? What if they don't get enough socialization? What if I am keeping them inside a bubble by not letting them go? What if this affects their getting into college? Oh those questions were merciless; day and night, they continued to bounce around inside my head. Until one day. . . .
I told myself to stop playing the what if game and start looking at the facts. The fact is that my daughter had just turned five, and she has had basic reading skills for over a year. Fact: My daughter is spelling words by herself by sounding them out. Fact: She can count to 100 almost flawlessly. Fact: She knows all her basics like colors and shapes. These were just a few. As I made a list of facts, I found that the what ifs slowly took back seat.
As I continued to make out my list, I realized that I was the one who mostly taught her all of that. I had to ask myself: If I taught her all of that, then why can't I teach her more? I reminded myself of how much I enjoy teaching our children. In return, they love to learn, which feeds my enthusiasm. It's a complete circle that works well for us all.
I was reminded of my friend, who is a homeschooling mom of five years, when she told me to use kindergarten as the experiment year. She encouraged us to find out what style and schedule we feel comfortable with and go from there. She said if we don't feel comfortable doing things one way, switch things around until it works. That is what she did, and her kids are brilliant! They certainly haven't suffered any. Quite the opposite, they blossom more each year! She also assured me that it gets much more comfortable after the first year. It seems true with most things: The more you practice something, the more comfortable it is!
Still, the teaching I had done before was informal; homeschooling is official, and this thought was making me nervous. I thought about my friend's advice and words of wisdom. I repeatedly chewed on them mentally until I finally came to a peaceful place, and we had a plan; we even had a back-up plan.
First, we were going to try out a schedule and a pre-made curriculum that sounded like it might work. We were going to try it out for up to six months. My husband and I agreed that if after just a few weeks we found it simply wasn't working, we'd scrap it and go with our back-up plan. We have our ideals, after all, and weren't 100% certain this was going to fit into that.
If all else fails, go to plan B. Our plan B is to make our own curriculum, which would include all the things we felt important. Of course, this requires a whole lot more work, but may end up being the better option. Like the old cliche says: Only time will tell.
Now I am finding myself getting more and more excited as we draw closer and I have been counting down the days to our first year of homeschooling! That's not to say the nerves inside me have completely subsided, but they have greatly reduced.
Perhaps you are, or are soon going to be, a first time homeschooling teacher. Maybe you even share some of the self-doubts that I did. If so, I encourage you to sit down and write out your concerns and then answer them with facts. Use your resources and talk to friends, explore the Internet, join on-line homeschool groups and / or local groups and read books and magazines. If you find you are nervous, try coming up with a plan A and a plan B. Remember, reverting to plan B is not failure; it's growth.
We are looking forward to our journey both as individuals and as a family. I have to say there is a special pride when I'm out with my daughter and someone asks her if she is getting ready to go to school. She shakes her head no and respectfully responds: "I'm going to be homeschooled!" Yes, you are indeed!
© 2010, Morgan River