I suppose that I should start out by explaining why my husband and I chose to homeschool in the first place. We have decided that the public school system is going downhill quickly. Over where we are, it’s not uncommon to have 35-40 kids in a single class, the ridiculousness of Common Core is beginning, and teachers have been brainwashed by union heads into thinking they are underappreciated and underpaid (some are). We simply believe that homeschooling our four-year-old twin girls, Allie and Kristy, is now a no-brainer. This was a decision that we made because we think that allowing a child to flourish and blossom at their own pace is important and can be hindered in the normal school setting, especially with the ever increasing class sizes.
The first year of homeschooling, I started preparing months in advance. I arranged for there to be a dedicated room in the house for the schooling and installed every item I could imagine would be in a classroom. I created detailed schedule plans for the school year and researched forms of curriculum. I visited every homeschool support forum available at the time and by August, I was all nerves. The strict schedule and responsibility of what I would have to do for the next 12 years was already taking its toll on me. When the alarm went off at six on the first scheduled day of school, I jumped out of bed like someone had shot at me.
Allie and Kristy were little troopers in spite of their crazy mommy. I followed my plans to the letter and they did their best to see me as their teacher instead of just Mommy. We followed the same routine for a couple of weeks and from the outside looking in, I was the perfect homeschooling mom who had it all together. On the inside, however, I was a wreck. The grueling routine and schedule that I had created was getting to me, my husband, my children, and even my home that had been terribly neglected. In a few weeks, I had transformed from the fun loving wife and mother to a generic person who just filled a spot at the dinner table.
It wasn’t until mid September that my husband saved me from my own self-propelled madness. As I sat in my pajamas at the edge of the bed, crying because I thought I was going to have to give up homeschooling, he said, “Tammy, how is what you are doing any different than what the girls would have in real school?”. It was then that it hit me. The whole time I’d been going about this wrong. I mimicked everything I thought school should be and had abandoned the idea that school could be different, which was our point in the beginning. Homeschool was a way for us to allow our girls to have a choice my strict planning and routine was leaving no space for freedom. From that point, everything changed. I relaxed my rules, my schedule, and integrated schooling as part of the daily activities in the house, instead of only focusing on education.
Allie and Kristy now love their school at home. Allie is creative and spends more time on her artwork, but Kristy loves to read and is allowed to spend as much time as she wants reading new stories. Homeschooling is not about a strict routine, but about happy children who get the chance to find out who they are and what they want to learn. If this is your first year of homeschooling, be sure to use my experience to remind you of this fact and you will find that this task is actually no task at all, but only part of being a good parent.