This year may be the first where I feel like a veteran homeschooler. Our first year schooling was the 2009-2010 year but it’s taken me this many years to feel steady, confident & as though I may actually have words of wisdom to contribute!
So leading into this year, feeling confident & steady rather than floundering for a piece of land, I decided to set some goals for the year. Now, in the past, my goals have been centered around curriculum or measurable educational goals. And those are necessary. But this year I felt confident enough in those areas to dig into the other things I want out of our schooling.
As these aren’t particular to our homeschool, I thought I’d share them in a series. Maybe you’ll glean some inspiration or pearls of wisdom I’ve learned the hard way (and save yourself from them!) Towards the end of the school year, I’ll share an evaluation of how well I did with them.
Don’t let your curriculum become a millstone
This wasn’t a problem for me in the past. As Elizabeth has gotten older, though, I’ve put too much pressure on myself to complete every problem on every page. Last summer I considered how rarely public schools actually do that (never in my schooling!). And I know we’re able to accomplish, on average, far more than most schools simply because of the size of our classes.
Somewhere along the line, though, I developed this idea that in order to give my kids a great education, we had to do everything in our curriculum. I didn’t apply this idea to others, only to myself. How is it we’re always able to encourage and give grace to others but not to ourselves?
This year I’m consciously making decisions each week on what we don’t have to do. If my second grader has the hang of a math concept, is it really necessary that he completes every single problem? If Elizabeth knows how to diagram sentences and has demonstrated that proficiently each time it appears in her grammar, does completing only three of the five problem really change the rigor of her schooling?
In examining how I got to the place, I found the root of it—I am scared of becoming one of those homeschoolers, the ones that give the rest of us a bad name because of how little they actually teach their children. I want our children to leave our homeschool in a manner that shows they received a strong education. And I was going to ensure that by not skipping anything.
And, then, I dug deeper. And I found the ugly side of it. Pride. I cringe even typing that. There’s a certain haughtiness of being able to say that we finished absolutely everything, as if that somehow makes me a better homeschooler. I pray that I never used that as a bragging point. And I’m fearful that I have.
I am consciously making choices each week to not let this become a millstone. I have a post-it note, even, that says this. And I move it to my calendar each week as I plan. Elizabeth is pretty compliant with her schooling and wouldn’t verbally protest, even while she drudged through it. So for her sake, I need a visual reminder.
Each day, I’m walking that line, learning to balance my goal for a strong education while remembering that completing every problem on every page doesn’t guarantee that goal.
Next in the series….learning to enjoy learning.