Is it possible that I am an old pro now? Hardly seems likely; we’ve only been doing this for two years. And it wouldn’t be honest to say that I know what I’m doing now. From day to day, week to week, I change up the schedule, modify my goals, declare a triumph what I would have previously called disaster.
When new homeschoolers tell me they are nervous, I tell them not to worry. I tell them that it couldn’t be easier, that I don’t use a set curriculum, have given up on yearly goals, and have to homeschool all year round because we are so chill about the whole thing that we accomplish little in any given week. It’s the best thing our family has ever done, I proclaim while trying to hold myself back from banging my shoe on the table. But that’s bravado more than anything else. Like when the lady with three kids acts like she knows exactly how to sleep train every baby and it’s no big deal and anyone who’s having trouble with it should really doubt his or her parenting mojo.
As the rest of the country gets to bed early tonight, ready to embark on a new school year, my boys are staying up late to read The Lightening Thief. Tomorrow, we’ll get up early and drive to North Carolina, where we’ll visit my sister and scooter along the nature path behind her house. I might ask them to do a little math online, but maybe they’ll make a pie with their aunt instead. That’s what back-to-school week looks like for us this year. Next week, I’ll probably panic and make them write reports and learn long division.
I still haven’t developed much of a homeschool philosophy. Some weeks, it looks like we’re un-schoolers, and others it looks like we are following a classical curriculum. You might say that I have no idea what I’m doing. I keep at it though, and, as with so many things that matter, sheer persistence pays off. I try new things and drop them when either they don’t work, like the great spelling experiment of 2011, or we bore of them, like singing hymns every morning. I keep working at it.
While I’m certainly no homeschooling expert, I want to tell you that one thing has indeed improved since the beginning. And it is this: I no longer dread teaching my sons. I don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach anymore, wondering how I will manage to get through another day. I don’t spend all night online looking for the next quick fix to all that ails us and our attempts at schooling. I don’t panic when I think about their academic and social obstacles. And I don’t long for the boys to go away and leave me alone, as I did for too much of their childhoods .
I think I might be settling in, not just to homeschooling, but to motherhood itself. And it only took ten years.
If you’re new to the site, or you just want to remember how pitiful it was in the early days, you might enjoy these: