We Almost Failed
To be fair, I went into homeschooling almost blind to the reality of what is required. I read all the library books I could get my hands on, I listened and watched intently as YouTube Moms shared their ‘tips and tricks’ to the life as a Homeschooler, I even created my own lesson plans and used the all mighty Pinterest warehouse to fill gaps when needed. To say the least I started as any other adamant Homeschooler would, from scratch with hope.
The first few weeks weren’t bad at all, in fact it seemed like between my anticipation and my daughter’s excitement coupled with a thirst for learning; we had everything we needed to stay motivated!
However, I believe the big error in my part was underestimating the amount of time it takes to create quality lessons and an overall curriculum outline. From late nights searching the web for ideas, to hurdling brick wall after brick wall each time I hit a dead end, a few weeks of excitement and anticipation quickly shifted into anxiety and panic.
Panic over whether or not my Pre-K baby was going to notice the shift in my voice when I presented a lesson plan half loaded and franticly put together, anxiety over whether or not my child would grow tired of the repetition in her school work, “Practice makes perfect!” they say… but practice can be tedious.
I went right into overthinking, over analyzing every little detail.
Should I fill in the shapes? Leave them blank and let her color them? Should I add more to this lesson, what if its already too much? How much is too much learning for one day? Is she even going to understand the overall idea from start to finish?! -My parental panic mode
My brain was working hard to answer all these questions and many more, much too hard in fact. By the end of our second month I was burnt out. My daughter could sense the frustration in my voice and she didn’t like the sight or presence of her tired, anxious Mama. She started resenting ‘study time.’ She’d rush through a lesson, eager to be done with it, that is if she sat down to participate at all. We started arguing over what lessons to do, from my perspective I wanted her to get a well rounded education, she wanted to focus on the lessons she enjoyed, all understandable.
Taking a Step Back
The big kick in the butt came when we decided to take a break, spending a few days away from ‘school’ and just focusing on bonding again, enjoying each other’s company. A few days turned into a week, a week turned into a month and before I knew it we had completely deserted our homeschool program altogether.
Though, through God’s wonderful ways, we found that this break was exactly what we needed. My daughter’s love for learning was redeveloped through play and actively getting interested in life; be it a question about the insect she just saw or a curiosity for the way a person gets from point A to point B.
We started having conversations about life and the way things worked, conversations that turned into learning experiences for us both, learning experiences that started to repeat themselves daily. Slowly I noticed she went from a frustrated child, eager to get through a lesson plan, to an inquisitive learner who thrived with hands on experience. She didn’t need a pen and paper, a long drawn out lesson plan filled with hints about how things worked, like a maze set up with booby-traps for learning.
She needed a guide for what was coming at her, she needed a hand to hold while she was figuring out how to ‘learn.’
This is when I completely switched gears. No more rigorous lesson planning, no more graded papers and structured daily workbooks with ‘have to do’ check lists. Sure, these can be a great way to keep us on track, get ideas and keep the creativity going, but they aren’t our main focus anymore. Now we wake up, say our prayers and open the door to possibility. I ask her what’s on her mind, where she wants to go, what she would like to do or learn about and all within reason we go from there.
The positives have been so evident its like learning happens all on its own! From ‘Life Skills’ to ‘Basic Studies’ even extra activities like household chores and field trips have all been incredibly redeveloped simply by changing up our approach to learning.
So if you find yourself ‘failing’ at homeschool, don’t panic yourself into a corner. Don’t blame yourself for not having the right know how from the start. Failure is simply a window into knowledge, knowledge about what works for your family and what doesn’t.I recommend you take a step back, give your family a break and see were the triggers are that seem to push your learning experience from exciting to worrisome.
Even if you aren’t a Homeschool family, take a moment to check in with your littles and see how school is going, do they still enjoy their learning process? Are they excited to start the day? Is there an underlining issue that can be resolved so that learning becomes fun again?
My heart and prayers go out to all who have experienced the frustration of a failed or almost failed schooling experience. Hang in there, chin up and may God bless you!