One of the biggest challenges for me in educating my sons was letting go of all the preconceived notions of what education “has” to look like. It was a little bit of a facepalm moment when I realized I had taken my children out of public school to experience education in a way that worked specifically for their needs, only to turn around and attempt to put them right back into a typical box.
Sure, I tried to incorporate more active learning and few worksheets, but it was still often all by rote. A schedule that had all the right components but we were still constantly hitting a wall with them getting frustrated and hating school.
Education is about learning, it’s not about a certain set process.
It’s about experiencing things and growing and expanding each child’s view of the world around them. It’s about so many things, but what it is not about is frustration, learning to hate to read or hate numbers. It’s not about filling out a million worksheets but still not really understanding the concepts the next day.
It’s about doing real and tangible things every single day, at all hours of the day, that expand their minds and teach them what they need to know in life.
One of the best ways to do that is by reading about the world to them and letting them experience things first hand. There are some incredible books out there that frankly, my children have learned far more from than any textbook I have ever given them! Yup, even for math!
Does this mean I stop intentionally teaching them? NO. Absolutely not. I’m not a great candidate for unschooling, simply because your school needs to be a good reflection of the combination of your family as a whole. In my case, this means that there’s planning done but with their specific needs in mind. If we need more breaks through the day and free play, we take it. Because that’s where we are in life, that’s what makes my children healthy and what helps them learn to the very best of their ability.
We have a lot of unique learning needs in our homeschool. We have a pretty wide spread of ages this year as well (2- 5th/6th graders, 1- 8th grader and a Senior in High School), so finding ways to work with each of them and even occasionally having classes all of them can do together despite the age difference is truly the most complicated part.
Some days you will feel successful.
Some days you will feel like you’ve failed… and maybe you have.
But there’s always tomorrow and we keep plugging along to encourage our children to become bigger than who they were yesterday. So, my biggest tip for new (and considering) homeschoolers is to simply take your time. What your homeschool looks like is going to be very unique to you… it will need to uniquely reflect the learning/teaching styles in your home as well as past experiences and your ultimate goals.
You can purchase curriculums that are a complete “box”. That really does work for some families. But for most of us, we need something that’s a little more customized. The first thing to do is simply to start…. but to always, always be flexible!
Please feel free to check back here as we will likely be transitioning to far more educationally based posts as I truly do find that this is what my life is mostly consumed by.