This post has been sitting in my drafts folder with no content in it for awhile now. I’ve wanted to write about it since we started but honestly I haven’t had the time to write. I haven’t had time to sit down and think about all the changes we have gone through as a family and process what our homeschool journey so far has looked like and the impact it’s had on us. I’ve been in the thick of it, trying to balance educating our children, keeping everyone alive, fed and healthy, travel, curve balls of life and finishing this house build.
It has been hard.
It has been exhausting.
It has been an adjustment.
But it has been so rewarding.
When we decided home educating our children was the path we wanted to take we knew that it would be a big adjustment for everyone. The kids had been in some sort of preschool since they were 18 months old. They started in traditonal preschool and then as they got older we enrolled them in Montessori which they both thrived in. They had friends. They loved their teachers. I had at least three days a week where I could get all the things done. Alone, no kids with me asking for everything in the store or suddenly forgetting how to walk because they would rather be anywhere but where we currently were. I had time to go and do things for myself, you know, self care. I was so effecient.
And then that all changed.
They were with me all the time. And they wanted to be with me all the time. They wanted to do everything I was doing, talk to whoever I was talking to, be all up in every single thing that was going on. I went from having time to get all the things done to figuring out what really needed to get accomplished beacuse I was quickly reminded that things always take longer when you have kids with you.
I was no longer effecient in the ways I used to be but I am learning.
I was used to having “my time” and it was a hard transition to not having that time anymore. It’s one that I am still adjusting to and probably always will but because of this change I was getting so much more time with my children that I didn’t have before because they were in school. That time with them outweighs the time I thought I needed for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that alone time but when I get it now, I enjoy it so much more.
They were getting more time together and slowly I saw their relationship grow. They have always been close but now they were together all the time, every day and this forced them to learn how to really listen to each other, to help each other and play together in a new way. Yes, they bicker. All the time. But they also help each other and play so well together.
Our days slowed down. We were no longer rushing to get out of the door in the morning. I wasn’t rushing to fit everything in the hours they were at school. We take our time getting up and starting our day. We move at their pace. We learn about what they want to learn about. We read alot. We draw alot. We spend a lot of time outside. We are experiencing a freedom with their learning and our schedule that we didn’t know before.
It’s been amazing to see them light up when they finally grasp a concept that you have been working on, that you have been teaching them. It’s also been an adjustment for them to take instruction from me, as their teacher. They were used to a certain way of learning and once we started lessons at home, their little world was turned upside down, as was mine. I am not schooled in Montessori Methods so I didn’t want to try to officially teach them the Montessori way. I love some of their methods and ideas so we incorporated those that were easily adaptable into our school days. There has been a lot of trial and error in the different curriculums we have chosen to use. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what would work for each of my children, they are so different in the ways they learn and I am learning how to teach them, how they thrive and what does not serve them well. It’s a fine balance in knowing when to challenge them and when to pull back and just let them go at their own pace, when they are ready.
For example, I really wanted to focus on recognizing letter sounds with Olivia. I felt like she should know more than she did so I started what I thought would be a great preschool curriculum with her. I was excited. She was not. We were both frustrated and I often ended the short lessons quickly because we both felt defeated. It was when I ended these lessons and saw what she was gravitating towards that I finally understood, she just wasn’t ready for what I wanted to teach her. She wanted to learn about math, she wanted numbers and adding. She didn’t want letters at that time. So I gave her math and she thrived. She is also four and what she needs is time to play so I give her lots of time to just play and be a four year old.
Grayson loves math too and we have struggled to find a curriculum that fits him well. We have tried several and we think that that we finally found a good mix of two that he’s loving. He’s happy and so am I. He doesn’t love reading but he does love when I read to him so we compromise. He reads a little bit and I read a lot. We are both happy and he’s doing great. We take all of our lessons slow and we may not get through everything in one day.
At first this stressed me out and looking back I probably seemed pretty crazy about it. I was so hard on myself and in turn I was being hard on them because I had this idea that we needed to be learning all of these things because that’s what they were learning in traditional schools. I didn’t want my kids to be “behind”. I wanted all of these things for them but I lost focus of why we decided to homeschool. The freedom. The ability to choose what we learn about and how we learn. And are my kids really behind if my four year old doesn’t know every single letter of the alphabet and what sound it makes but she loves learning about math and can tell you all sorts of facts about birds and mammals? Is my 7 year old really behind if he can’t read or spell every word perfectly but is willing to learn, enjoys being challenged in math and is thriving in his artistic abilities?
You see, one of the biggest challenges I have faced is not learning how to manage my time but learning how to manage my expectations and not falling into the comparison trap. Our homeschool isn’t going to look like our friend’s homeschool. We may be learning about the same things but the way we are learning about them could be completely different and there is so much beauty in that.
Just because I see a child on social media that is reading on a 5th grade level when they are only 7 years old doesn’t mean that my child should be doing that. I don’t have to do all the amazing crafts I see on Pinterest or have a specific day for baking and cooking wonderfully nutritious and organic meals. That’s not us. My children do not have to be completing long division and mastering fractions at their age just because there may be children out there who can. My children need to know they are loved, be encouraged in their interests and supported no matter what. It’s my job to nurture their learning styles and teach them to adapt to new ideas and ways of doing things. It’s my job to love them and teach them, not pressure them or try to mold them (or us) into something they are not.
Has our first “semester” of homeschool gone smoothly and exactly as I had envisioned? No way. My first mistake was having this unachievable vision of what our school should look like when we had never homeschooled before. I thought I knew what we were getting into but there was no way I could have known until we actually started. There was no way our first semester could have resembled what I wanted perfectly. We were right in the middle of building a house when we started. We had waited to start because we wanted to be finished with the build so we could focus on homeschool but we got tired of waiting to start so we dove in. And there were days that were perfect. Then there were days that we had to stop in the middle of a lesson because I had to go to the build and check on something or because I had a meeting. There were days that I had to ask for help with watching the kids because I just had to get caught up on life and we didn’t get as much school accomplished.
We took almost a month long break from “formal lessons” around Christmas because of the holidays and then we were moving. Once we moved we still couldn’t get into a rhythm because we were unpacking and there were still people working in the house. I started to stress about this but I saw that the kids were still learning and engaged when we were doing lessons. We spent more time outside and with our friends during this time and this did all of us so much good. They were still thriving and because of the unpredicability of our days they were learning to adapt to change, to really go with the flow. They were watching us and how we dealt with all of the change and mimicking our actions. They were learning real life lessons, not just those lessons that I was teaching them. Once I accepted that our days moved along much smoother and we soon found ourselves in a good rhythm again.
So, am I still happy that we chose to homeschool? Absolutely. Do I get impatient more than I would like to admit? Yes, but I’m learning to give myself grace and be okay with not checking off all of the boxes of things I’d like to accomplish. I am tired at the end of the day but I am so grateful that I get this time with my children. I know it’s a blessing and it’s not one that I take lightly. There are times I feel like I could be teaching them so much more but when I look back at all that we have experienced in the short time we have been doing this I know that they are doing just fine. They are happy and flourishing. There is time to learn more, do more, see more, and we will get there one day. We get there some days now but while they are this little we are going to enjoy being little and the ability to call it a day after a couple of hours and go outside and play. As long as we are all still thriving we will continue to do what we are doing and add in more when they want more.
That’s what our homeschool is right now and we are all okay with that.
We are all learning. We are all thriving. We are all okay. What more could I ask for?