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This post is part of the Homeschool Mum Take Away Series!
Growing up, one of my favorite games was “school.” I really never dreamed I would become a teacher, though. After five years as a public school teacher, I had decided to take on another education adventure. I was going to homeschool our children.
Despite having a dual certification and a Masters in the Art of Teaching, I really had no idea what homeschooling entailed. However, over the years, I had accumulated books, mostly textbooks and workbooks, that I thought would be perfect for my future homeschool. You see, I had been considering this for much longer than I let myself admit.
Moving My School Home
September swiftly came, and after the second birthday of our son, our school at home opened. I had my pile of textbooks, my bevy of manipulatives, a precise schedule, and mountains of lesson plans. We would do a, b, and c on Monday and accomplish x, y, and z by every Friday.
In setting up my homeschool, I relied on what I knew best, and that was school. The old brick and mortar with desks in straight lines and mammoth chalkboards filled with assignments. There would be a time for everything would happen between 9 AM and 2 PM. Recess occured right at 1PM and lasted only 25 mins. We had so much to do, and the checklists must be completed. Progress had to be shown and the only way to ensure a good education was to move at a reasonable pace and expect the kids to work their hardest at every moment of the day.
There was no time for repeating, and if you were capable of long division but struggled with writing your name, well, something was greatly wrong! This was what Kindergarteners did, so tow the line or struggle to keep up because the clipper was on a steady course for greatness.
The pencils were sharpened, the crayons were brilliant, everything seemed destined for success…except for one small detail, we were miserable!
All that We Hoped
In planning for our homeschool, I failed to account for all that we had hoped to avoid. I was following the exact model that we were running away from. Lessons dragged on, we fell further and further behind. My frustration, and that of the children, mounted with every day. Why wasn’t this working?
When we began talking of homeschooling, we were both teachers in a K-8 school. We saw what didn’t work. We analyzed what needed to change and how. Our dissatisfaction with our students struggles led us to throw everything we knew out the window and embrace a completely new lifestyle that was met with more than its fair share of resistance.
Maybe our family was right, maybe this couldn’t work! Maybe kids needed a school to succeed. I wasn’t willing to give up just yet, we just had to try harder. We had everything we needed, or maybe we didn’t. Perhaps adding that top rated phonics workbook would do the trick. Twice the phonics had to be better. Progress was just around the corner. We would not just keep pace with the public schools, we would surpass them.
I just needed to turn a blind eye to the ever growing laundry pile, disconnect the phone, hide the toys and snacks, and set higher standards…in other words, I needed our home to be a school.
The Lifestyle Lightbulb
Our home was not a school though, and trying to make it one for 5 hours each day and then switch it back to a family home was grinding us all into the ground. Life kept happening and I resented it. Finally after two years of struggle and gritted teeth, I was at my breaking point.
We attended a homeschooling conference and something clicked between meandering through the vendor booths and sitting through countless talks, I realized that I was no longer a teacher! I was a mom educating my children.
I had unwittingly dragged everything I disliked about teaching into our home, and since I lived in my schoolhouse, there was no escape. The teacher’s manuals, the stilted lesson plans, the busy work, the pressure to “keep up,” and the stigma of not fitting in…everything I rejected in public school was now being inflicted on my own children at my own hands.
“When everything isn’t working, just read good books!”
Andrew Pudewa, IEW founder
We needed a change, and quickly! The textbooks we suffered through went out the window and we found good books to read. We began to embrace life in our home and make our school choice our lifestyle. We were finally learning–all of us!
Homeschooling is not school at home, it’s an education lifestyle.
About The Author
Jennifer Elia – Homeschool mentor, curriculum creator, blogger, and author and Founder of Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer provides one-on-one mentoring, personalized and original curriculum plans, and practical advice for those just beginning their homeschool journey, as well as those who just need a little boost. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. When Jennifer isn’t busy researching the best curriculum solutions, she enjoys gardening, crafting, and writing. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Pinterest.
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