Recently a mother asked the following question and I thought I would share my answer with you as it is a question that lots of mums ask when considering homeschooling.
Question: How do you find the strength and energy, patience and love to get through each day as a home-schooling Mum? I want my children to have the option of University or further studies – How do you measure our own capability in being able to teach well enough? My children are already at school – is it too late to make the switch now?
How do I find the strength and energy, patience and love to get through each day as a homeschool mum? My first thought when people ask this is that you cannot compare the energy etc you have now, and add homeschooling to your ‘to do’ because once you homeschool your lifestyle changes, and the things that take you out and about now with a school routine will change. You will have different opportunities, different goals for each day and involved with different people – all of these changes will affect your strength, energy, patience and love. Comparing what you do now, with a homeschooling lifestyle is not really comparing apples to apples.
I am not sure that I have the strength, energy, patience and love for a homeschool mum. I think that is a stereo-typical idea and I would fail on each of those at different times. But because we have the freedom to build our day around our family needs we are able to address some of these ‘stresses’ in practical ways. For example – strength and energy – when my kids were little they had an hour rest, nap, reading time and I also refreshed myself at that time with either a nap, a phone call chat or a bit of craft. These days, I take a nano-nap when I need it. A homeschool lifestyle can give you the opportunity and freedom to take the breathers that you need.
As for patience and love – well, homeschooling is just about being a mum – and as a mum I have my moments of patience and my moments of lacking patience. Neither qualifies nor disqualifies me to be a mum but as a person, I want to grow in patience and my ability to show love, and this would be a challenge to me, whether I homeschooled or not.
It is important not to define yourself as a teacher, and therefore put the expectations you would have of a teacher onto yourself. Your role will continue to be that of mother. Your input into your kids’ lives has just expanded. Seeing yourself as mother, not teacher which will affect how you envisage your strength, energy, patience, and love coping. As a mother you have already taught them so much (even while sending them to school); homeschooling just continues and expands this aspect of mothering.
The transition between school to homeschool will differ depending on how old your kids are and how keen they are for the change. Regardless of when you start homeschooling I believe that the first things you need to do will be:
- Build relationships as a family – learning to appreciate family, learn to spend time together, learn to live life together. Though you will still interact with many people, the family will be the core social group – you will be together every day for the most of that day (as opposed to being with friends at school).
- Establish chores to maintain the home. Not only is it important to teach our kids responsibilities (and this happens by getting them involved in maintaining the home), but it is important for our own headspace to keep on top of our homemaking responsibilities as well as the homeschooling
- Learn to worship God together – read, pray, sing, and talk about God throughout your day.
These things may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. Then start the more traditional understanding of learning.
If your kids are with you on this change, and already do chores, then the transition to continue studies at home will be shorter.
As far as preparing your kids for university entrance – the best thing you can do for your kids is to create an atmosphere where they come to appreciate learning, where they acquire the skills of learning independently, and have a desire to learn. This desire is what will take them beyond your homeschooling. On a practical level though there are plenty of resources/curriculum available that will help you with the teaching of your children or more importantly, help them in their learning – in whatever area you or they choose to study.
As far as your capacity goes… my son has a capacity for understanding and learning far beyond me, I’ve been learning from him for many many years! My role in his education hasn’t been to teach him (though I have taught him things) but my main role has been to direct, guide, encourage, and challenge him. Simply by him having to explain things to me he has become clearer in his own understanding of things. I think the biggest impact I’ve had on my son is his character and heart for God and people and that will influence his future more than any academic subject he has mastered. Don’t let your education or ability deter you from embarking on homeschooling – learn together, and don’t be afraid if they end up smarter than you! You might like to read my article: Help my Child is Smarter than I am!
I hope these thoughts have helped you as you consider the idea of homeschooling. Another blog post that you might find helpful is: Must Haves for Homeschooling.
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