I have my ducks, but my rows aren't straight!
When I first started our homeschooling journey I remember thinking, "Okay, I have my ducks, now to put them in a row." I began that September with a 6-year old, first grader, and a 2-year old by my side. I had been a teacher with Middle School students for the last 10 years, how hard could homeschooling my own kids really be? Well….it was harder than I thought. I don’t say that to be discouraging! It was hard because I didn’t understand that homeschooling is NOT trying to recreate school at home. This was a hurdle for me. I purchased the entire first grade package of a very prominent Christian, homeschooling curriculum with all the bells and whistles. I tried to be very diligent at following all the outlines, time lines, circle times, schedules, and file all the documents in the right place to make my kids’ homeschooling experience “perfect.” Around October I was absolutely beat down! I was certain I had made the wrong decision and that I was ruining my kids forever. Been there? Sound familiar?
I called a veteran homeschool mom and just poured my heart out. At the end she was very compassionate and asked me WHY I was homeschooling my kids. I shared my heart about it and why my husband and I had made the decision to dramatically change our lifestyle and their schooling experience. Then she said, “So if you are committed to it being different, why are you trying to make it look like the school scene you left?” I honestly felt so humbled. Why was I so committed to it looking just like traditional school at home? We didn’t want traditional schooling, and I had just clearly explained why we were heading in a different direction. So, I sat quietly while my dear friend just waited with me in the silence of my homeschooling epiphany. This began the foundation for our family’s very personal philosophy on WHY and HOW we would homeschool moving forward. I informed the Christian homeschool company that day that we were unenrolling from their program and I looked through the various material to keep anything that might assist in our new schooling path (a math workbook, some flashcards, and the handwriting paper!). I took the rest of the week off of “school” and dismantled the whole school room. We went to the park everyday that week and I carefully watched the momma ducks at the pond. We made dioramas of the creative stories we wrote together on the white board and baked banana muffins with chocolate chips. We cuddled on the couch and read stories aloud while eating lunch. We sorted laundry and toys. We danced, colored, played math games, and shook off all the trappings of traditional school as we embraced this new adventure together. To this day my oldest remembers that week vividly! It was the true beginning of our homeschooling journey! It was the best decision our family ever made. In fall 2021, my little 6-year old will be entering his senior year of high school! And my 2-year old? He will be finishing up his middle school years. I still have my ducks, but I no longer try to put them in straight rows. I learned from watching the momma duck that week. She moved through the water twisting and turning, stopping to eat, moving with the current or getting out of the water as necessary. She had her little ducklings right behind her and they weren’t missing anything. I realized that my ducklings were the important part, and my “rows” didn’t have to be straight. We are all learning, my ducklings and I, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Maybe you have been there. Perhaps you are there right now. At some point every homeschooling family comes to the crossroads of what they thought homeschooling would be and how it really plays out in their lives. Do you know WHY you homeschool? If you are still uncertain, soak in that for a while and figure it out. It is important to understand why you chose this journey and it will help you remain true to the adventure. There are so many good resources out there for homeschooling, I would highly recommend Homeschooling 101: Chart the Course, Enjoy the Journey! by Nicole Kennedy Green, available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08DBVR82B/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_ER2085X088DXTY52XMWS. I receive no perks from the purchase of this book, except that you are supporting a friend and fellow homeschool mom. I wish this resource had been there when we started, so I share it often. It has various tools, links, and information about how to navigate and enjoy the homeschooling journey for your family.