Sometimes I get a panicky feeling. I ask myself many questions. Have we made the right choice to home educate our children? Am I doing enough? Are they missing out on things? Are they socializing enough?
Deep down I know that my husband and I are so happy with our decision. The children are happier than they have ever been before, they have meaningful relationships, they love life, they laugh and play all day, they are free.
But knowing this doesn’t stop these niggling guilt feelings that creep in every so often. A feeling that somehow I will fail my children, that somehow I will let them down.
Then this weekend I came to the realisation that most parents feel like this regardless of where/how their children are educated. Most parents worry about failing their children, most parents are just trying to do their best.
I think the fear that home school parents have comes from the fact that we are constantly going against the grain, throwing societies expectations of children out the window. And instead of being scared that we are outcasts, misfits, ‘hippy drippy weirdos’ (just some lovely names for homeschoolers I’ve come across on the world wide web), I should embrace it!
“Be a Flamingo in a flock of Pigeons”
I have completely stopped trying to ‘force’ learning on my children. When we first started home educating I felt like I needed to ‘teach’ the children and constantly push learning opportunities at them, hoping they’ll soak it all up and be thrilled to do so. It didn’t take me long to realise that this approach didn’t work for us.
We’re more of a go with the flow kind of family.
Most of the time the girls make all of their own choices; except when we have to be somewhere or we insist upon certain things. We mainly unschool, although I do occasionally leave out activities, or ask the girls to do something; but nothing is ever forced. Sometimes we do projects, sometimes we’ll start a topic only to abandon it through lack of engagement. We visit friends and home-ed groups when the girls want to socialise.
Some days we’re really active and outdoorsy. We choose to spend others locked indoors, cosy. Most days we’re up early, washed and dressed, other days we stay in our pj’s and don’t even brush our hair.
I’ve figured home educating is about balance. Much like life really.
It’s OK to have slow days or weeks where you feel like nothing has been accomplished, because other days/weeks you’ll do an incredible amount that will leave you all feeling exhausted.
I’ve felt like we haven’t really done much this last week, which is what led to my panic and self doubt.
But thinking back we’ve actually done loads, even though I feel like we’ve done very little.
We’ve read tons of books, we’ve baked cakes and biscuits, we’ve counted and added coins, we’ve measured random things around the house.
The girls have planned a show they want to perform to the family, spending lots of time rehearsing. They spent a full day painting the set, then watching Wizard of Oz for “research”.
We went on a long bike ride, and spent lots of afternoons at the park. We’ve talked about Remembrance Day and went to the local service at the Cenotaph.
They’ve planned their fundraising ideas for Children in Need, and completed some charity things for Christmas.
They set up a bookshop and held “author talks”, where they pretended to be authors and had to read excerpts from books and answer Daddy’s questions.
We’ve watched Blue Planet 2, the girls like to sit with notebooks and draw anything they find interesting whilst watching.
Little Bean has started reading more difficult books and is really proud of herself. Big Bean has started to attempt to spell by herself (something that was previously a source of massive anxiety.
Plus lots of imaginary play, and games.
My point being that no matter how you homeschool/unschool. Whatever it looks like in your family, you need to find the joy in the little things you do every day.
I need to remind myself that my children are making progress everyday. It may not be progress in terms of hitting government academic targets. But they are progressing into free thinking, creative, motivated, emotionally intelligent, kind human beings. They are unique, they are free.
So in these weeks where I feel like we’re stuck in a rut, I need to be kinder to myself, and give the girls more credit. I got this and they’re doing just fabulous following their own paths.