In the past few weeks, I have spoken with several different moms who have chosen to school their children at home. A couple are new to homeschooling-even newer than I and a few who are experienced. Through my conversations, I have noticed a few trends. We all start out trying to have a school at home including a school room, lots of books, specific curriculums, a schedule and grand ideas. Very quickly, everyone has found that school at home is not reality. In reality, kids and parents get sick; appointments happen; the laundry and the housework still has to get done; and as much as you want to stick to a schedule, life happens. So what are the common attributes among these women and families that I have witnessed?
Courage. Courage is the ability to overcome a fear or an uncertainty in my mind. I have yet to meet a homeschooling mom or family who has not questioned her/their ability to teach their children. However, somehow they find it within themselves to go against the current of society and stick with it. Is it tough? Definitely. It is not only the first few months that require courage but throughout the process. Daily, we are questioned by everyone about how we like homeschooing, how do we know what to teach, and many more items interrogating our process and way of life.
Vulnerability: Obviously, we do not know everything. We are teachers just like teachers in school. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable to my kids. They need to know that I do not know everything. However, I do know how to learn and this is what I teach. If there is something that I do not know the answer to (which happens quite often), then I have to seek the answer. It also requires vulnerability to take the first leap into homeschooling. There is a huge feeling that we might screw up or completely hate it in the beginning. I am sure everyone who homeschools felt this way at one point in the process.
Respect: One of the goals of most of the families whom I have met is for their children to respect others and the world around them. You see this in the parents’ interactions with their children.
Risk-takers: Schools create logs of their test scores, teacher retention percentages and graduation rates. Schools do this to give parents a piece of mind that “yes, this school is good enough for my child.” Each homeschool family is different. I have yet to meet any two homeschool families who do everything exactly the same. There are no scores or graduation rates. There is no guarantee that your kids will graduate with honors. My children are my world right now. My goal is for them to be happy, healthy and to know how to learn. Taking them out of a formal school was one of the biggest decisions I(we) have ever made. Most of the decisions that I have made in my life only effected me. This decision affects three innocent people. This is a risk.
Humor: When the day goes awry, what else can you do?
Resilience: Everyone melts down. Everyone has the day that they think to themselves, “I can’t do this anymore,” or “they are driving me nuts!” The amazing thing about the families that I have met is that they go through this, and then they pick themselves up and say, “I can do this.” Typically, they bounce back even stronger and more amazing than before. Each meltdown is an opportunity to learn and grown.
Love: The most important one. I have met some amazing men, women and children in this journey. They all homeschool for different reasons but they all resonate love for their children and their families. They love to see the smile on their kids’ faces when they discover something new. They love to be with each other and to have fun together. They love to love.
Whether you are new to the journey or an old pro-do you see these attributes in yourself or your friends?