This is out 5th year homeschooling, but I still feel so confused at times. Am I doing enough? Am I pushing too hard? Are we using the right things? Am I on course? Will my children be as prepared as they need to be for standardized tests? After all, I don't "teach to the test."
When The Artist was in 1st grade, she was to test at the local elementary school. A few days before testing began, I realized that I had taught her to "carry," but the new terminology was "regroup." I remember the momentary panic. Yes, yes, it's ridiculous. But I was using that test to gauge MY progress. How was I teaching? Was she learning enough? Age-appropriate materials? I needn't have worried.
Still, I am overcome every once in awhile with that same panic-attack feeling. It's as if I'm always leaving the house with a burner on, thinking, "now, what did I forget?" I have this true fear that somehow something very important will be left out, and I'll be the ruin of them because of it. It's irrational, but real.
I've been trying for some time to "get it down." For the first two years, we were much too rigid. I went through my strict-schedule, bottoms in desk chairs, quiet school-time phase. I was trying to make it public school. How ironic.
And then, the next phase came upon us fairly quickly: I learned how to do school AND be hands-on. We became super interactive, artsy-craftsy to learn as much as possible, living books all the time. This is my niche, but I still questioned myself. There was even a question on the homeschool loop about how to incorporate more hand-on learning. Several of the answers were that it's just not important; that it tends to be over-emphasized. The thing is, though, that it is VERY important to some. God created me and my children specifically to be in this family together. God knows the talents and gifts He has set aside for us. And, in this family, we need art. We need hands-on interaction. It very well may not be important to others. There are other areas that just don't hold high priority for me (like sports in school,) but that doesn't mean it's not perfect and necessary for another family.
So now--finally (God sighs, relieved, because it's about time?)--I've learned that I only need to do what's right for us. That's right! I can get ideas from others, glean wisdom from those who have traveled the path before me, but ultimately I need to do what is best for my children, in our timing, and to the best of my ability. Our homeschool will not look like anyone else's.
But, like I said, I do want to learn from older and wiser women. Doing our own thing often means incorporating wonderful ideas from others...the things that "fit" for us.
Here are two articles that really spoke to me. These are just too good not to share.
And two other articles, on loving and enjoying our children, and struggling with daily grind:
From Live Fully, Laugh Often and Love Always, Do you Enjoy Your Children? and from Joyful Chaos, Tonight I Ponder... I love her follow-up post, too. And this line, "Am I missing it everyday for all the dailyness?"
Yes, I read a lot at night. In fact, I usually have two hours after the kids go to bed, before I hit the sack. After my house stuff is quickly taken care of, and any bill stuff, then it's FREE time. Usually when I start on something, it's hard for me to switch, so I end up with a different hobby every evening: art journaling, sketching, blogging, reading, games with The Man, etc. This, dears, is also when I do lapbook stuff and other hands-on crafty prep. Often I watch a movie with The Man, or we talk, while I do prep work.
Sometimes I wonder if the "when do you ever have time," comments imply that I must be neglecting something else in order to do hands-on work, or art time. The thing is, everyone has their priorities. We don't watch any tv. We don't have cable. And right there that frees up a lot of time for me. I also have artsy crafty kids, who enjoy helping me with prep work. Each to his own. We all have 24 hours a day, and I'm sure there are unnecessary things in each person's day... but I enjoy and need my seemingly-unnecessary things, like extra evening hobbies. When I take that time in the evening to express myself, learn, read, create... it makes me a better mom to the kids...much happier when they wake up in the morning.
And now my post has officially become rambling, skittering down rabbit side trails, while I dump my mind. :-)