I have no idea why but the pressure of "perfectionism" is so PUSHED on homeschool moms. Reality is: Homeschool is: Hard, humbling, and exhausting. It's one of those really hard things that turn out really good...like running a marathon...? Maybe.
I saw a quote this week that struck my heart. It said something along the lines of, "mothers are unseen heroes..." We are. We work for the "unseen" with our children. There are times our labor will never be seen. Our children will grow and all of our work may not be seen by us. And that unseen is hard, tedious, pray for me kind of hard.
Through the years of homeschooling I've met and LOVE so many homeschool moms. I believe you all are the best in this world. I believe in you. I believe in your worth and I know at the end of the day you labored through the grit of working on those habits again, breaking up arguments, washing dishes, pay bills, laundry, running errands... Thank you, you are forming the generations that MY children will live in this world with. If we work together for the unseen (although not perfect ) we will look back and think: It was worth it.
Have you ever seen the great big cathedrals in Ireland or England? Do you know most of those cathedrals took many generations to build? The beginning builders died before they would see the next step. Each generation worked with a goal SET in their minds. That's what we are. We are generation builders.
What do you think of when you see a beautiful castle? I admire the beauty and at a closer look I often say, " Wow that had to be hard work". That's us!
My first year homeschooling, I struggled. I didn't have the right support system (yet) and I didn't know there were different choices in educating our children. I thought, "I am replicating school at home". When I look back, it's strange to me how my mind was boxed in and not free. I was raised in public schools my whole life. I followed the routine of things...I'm a rule keeper and never thought outside of worksheets and tests.
The other homeschool moms I met didn't reveal the hard part of it to me. The problem with that is, new homeschool moms think they are doing something wrong and even worse harming their children's educations! When I started out blogging about homeschooling, I made a promise that I would not do that to you! I want to share my struggles with you so you KNOW it's normal. I've had more good days than bad, but never easy. I will share my good and bad days. There are days you will just want to give up and put them back in school. Okay. Email me. I've been there and although at the times it seems logical, don't trust your emotion because one day was bad. And I'm serious about emailing me:
Okay, so we've thrown being perfect out the door.
Next: Perfect kids. Okay...no!!! Mine are not! And if someone tells your theirs are RUN! They are not and no ones are. Nobody has "arrived" and no one has it all together. Some have better systems, some have a little more experience, and some have done well with habit training, but none are perfect. My children fail every day, I expect it. Have Charlotte Mason's methods helped me tremendously with child rearing? YES! But still, we are not perfect. I have to deal with sinful attitudes every day. You will too, it's okay :) Keep plodding along.
I play classical and happy music in our home almost all day during school hours. For us, it's like a " call to action" and it sets the mood for pleasantness. I plan to do a later post just on music in the home that includes my playlist. My "playlist" is what passively taught my older children to name almost any classical composer on the spot and gave them a love for classical music. When my oldest child was four, I put him in chair for a punishment until I could think of what I wanted to do with him. He said to me grumpily, " Why does our house always play HAPPY music?" I smiled and still do repeating that story. Play music in your home, it sets the mood of peace.
Next: All homeschool kids do not have to play instruments. What's up with that? So, my daughter and one son play the violin. My littles may also eventually play. Half of my children play no instrument. I've seen parents force children into instrument playing just because other homeschool kids do. I believe when God made our children sooo perfectly and individually HE created them with gifts. Not all of our gifts are music. I have required all of my first graders to learn basic music theory with me. I want them to be able to read notes in hymnals, but for me, that's a life skill. I never required them to play an instrument. I am planning to come up with some very simple, free music theory worksheets for you to teach. Even if you can't read music, you can easily use my method.
Next: You HAVE to finish your curriculum you choose even if it isn't working out. I know...you spent money on it! I am super careful with money too. I believe God gave it to us to steward well. But I want you to feel okay with saying, " this curriculum isn't working for Math or English or whatever... " It happens. Time is money. You can resell the curriculum, but don't drag yourself through lessons that are not useful to your child and making learning boring. I've stopped in the middle of quite a few and don't regret it.
Next: YOU have to be perfect to homeschool and have it all together as a mom. I laughed as I wrote that one! C'mon we live in a fallen world. We all have issues! I've heard so many times in the grocery store or whenever I'm out with all my children, " I could never homeschool I am NOT patient enough". I truly can't count the number of times I've heard that. The truth is, none of us are patient enough. God uses my homeschool "hardness" to change me. He uses the every day grind to make me more like Him. More patient, more loving, more wise...want to join me when I'm 90 on a rocking chair? I will be a patient and kind old lady :) I believe it! God is using our homeschool to change US! Awesome thought, awesome God.
Next: You have to join a co-op. No you don't. I have years that I've been in one and years that I'm not. Every year is different. If you feel like you would love the extra support, join one. If you feel like you are too busy this season try next year.
Some things that NEED to happen when you homeschool
You need to maintain being "you". You need to take time for mother culture. If we lived by each other maybe we could join a class of some sort to learn something :) Ceramics, knitting, hiking, kickboxing (sorry had to add that in because I think kickboxing can be mother culture although no one I know has ever said that) . Did I mention that I'm a redhead and thoughts randomly pass through my brain? It's true... So yes, mother culture for you is a need.
Connect with your kids. Make it a goal to look in each child's eyes every day. Don't look over them, look into them. Hear their heart. I will talk a lot on CMK about gently guarding, and shepherding hearts. More later.
Routines. Yes, routines. Homsechool-free spirit- momma.. Homeschool life requires some kind of structure. It's good for you and it's good for them. I promise routines will make your life easier. Remember smooth and easy days is our goal!
Organization. Homeschool life brings...PAPER. Lots of paper. On top of a normal household's paper we got a lot of paper to deal with.
Meal plans. When we don't have meal plans we waste money and lose precious time. Plan your meals, I will help you with that on a later post. I'm trying to come up with a gorgeous plan for homeschool lunches.... Got any good recipes? Comment here or on our FB page. Let's chat homeschool lunches.
Some type of chore plan. When you are all home together all day it gets kind of...what's the word...cozy. Or "eh" ish? Sometimes you just need a little motivation to keep working on chores. Write down a plan then you will have some skeleton to your day and you will know who was responsible for what.
Well, friends, this blog post is ending. My wrists hurt from typing and it's almost midnight. Be back for more homeschool help and in case you haven't heard it today I'm proud of you... not many women are warriors like you.