Homeschooling is many things. Easy is not one of them.
I’ve been discouraged with it lately though; my expectations of what I want to accomplish exceed what is physically possible for me. How do you clearly define the boundaries of home and school?? How much is enough? or not enough? How do I add more structure and consistency into our school days? These are big mystery questions for me.
Even though we have an academic curriculum to work with and meet monthly with an Education Specialist, a lot of our activities revolve around learning through play: building, storytelling, pretending, making art, cooking, dancing, doing household chores together, going on adventures, doing experiments, and playing board or creating our own games.
In the morning they get their toys or unfinished activities from the previous day and tell me all the work they need to accomplish. It sounds silly to me, which is my biased opinion, but to them it’s serious work. This reaffirms my latent, a little bit reluctant too, belief that play is meaningful and purposeful.
I know this to be true cognitively but accepting it has been difficult.
Our most recent play has been running a hospital where various animal patients are treated: x-rays, check-ups, blood draws, shots, medicine, broken bones, heart fix, stomach flu, or staying overnight at the hospital. They call me “boss”; they slapped that title on me voluntarily, probably as a buttering-up scheme to make me play longer as their sick dinosaurs.
Other times, they are archaeologists digging up fossils under the living room mat wearing lab goggles and gloves, pretending to analyze bone samples, rescuing animals from dangerous environments, rehabilitating herbivores who have been attacked by T-Rex, or camping out on the stairs with blanket forts and canopies.
They ask me to play. A lot. It’s torturous to get into it, because my middle-aged mind doesn’t naturally gravitate towards imaginary play and being silly on a regular basis. It hurts my head.
The other day I felt overwhelmed and frustrated that we were having a mediocre start to this winter semester. Feeling desperate for other options, I took a deeeeeeeep breath and timidly started researching local public schools.
Maybe I will be able to and stay motivated to homeschool my kids all the way through high school; maybe I’ll decide to stop; or maybe one or both kids will want to attend a regular school at some point.
Majority of the time I’m convinced that homeschooling is the right educational decision for our family, especially due to its flexibility, being interest based, spending time together, going on spontaneous adventures, and learning at our own pace. When kids surprise me with new information they’ve absorbed or remind me that the process of learning involves mistakes and that they can fix those issues, it makes me deliriously happy. But that happy feeling is fleeting; self-doubt creeps in making me question whether I’m doing enough. It never feels like enough.
I’ve known this all along, but I’m reminded that I can’t do everything I want; enough has to be good enough for my sanity sake. Also, the outcome of learning won’t be apparent immediately. It rarely happens that quickly: it needs time to simmer and develop, which I should know well from personal experience. This homeschooling experience constantly challenges me to rethink what learning is, how it occurs, and where it will unfold and flourish.