We started back to school last week, wanting to get everyone back in a rhythm before going all-in this week. It is tough on all four kids but it is also a bit tough on mom and dad too. We have to find our groove too and just like for the kids, it isn’t super fun getting into that groove. We have to reform our habits and our days are more defined and less free. For folks like us, that’s the biggest challenge. The actual teaching and instruction is not too bad, it is the fullness of the days that grates on our spirits. And so we adjust, just as they will.
We don’t do this because it’s easy. We do it because we believe in it. We do it for the dinner conversations about continental drift and Pangaea, about how they are learning to borrow when doing subtraction and about the great books they got to read. It is fun, it is hard. It can be both and we love it.
The other day, a video was posted by John Green on his VlogBrothers channel on YouTube that really caught my attention. Mr. Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns amongst others, and I often enjoy what he and his brother Hank post about. In this particular video, he discusses the idea of how people frame and edit their social media posts. They do this in order to present a certain perspective that paints a picture, but certainly not the whole picture, of their lives. This picture is one that they careful curate and edit and we all do it, often unconsciously even. Here is that video:
What I wanted to write about is how often I see this within the homeschool community and how it can really be detrimental. For example, below is a picture of our son during a field trip to a horse rescue ranch.
This is a great picture that my wife shot of Boy Wonder and his interaction with one of the horses out there. They both look like they are smiling at one another while sharing this sweet moment. Was it a sweet moment? Absolutely! Was it a big homeschooling success? Again, absolutely. Does this photo paint the whole picture of that day? Quite simply, no.
You see, it is so tempting to post a picture like this and caption it with some words or even a catchy quote that make it seem like we’ve got it all together when it comes to homeschooling. As if every day were this perfect image of domestic and educational bliss. That we never face challenges and difficulties. That photo of our son doesn’t show that this was our first field trip in months because it looks like we must do this all the time, right? It doesn’t show that he is highly averse to being dirty and that he probably rushed to wash his hands immediately after this shot.
Unfortunately, those are the pictures that we are drawn to. Those are the Instagram accounts that we follow, those are the Facebook pages that we look for and it’s just not good for us. All it does is make us feel deficient because we can’t reach that level of perfection in our own, messy, chaotic lives. That we can’t have that perfect table arrangement for dinner or that well organized homeschool room or corner. And since we can’t match those perfect photos, we feel inadequate or even like we are failing in our homeschools.
What we need to realize is, that what we are is enough. That the effort and passion and love with which we teach our kids is enough. That those snapshots that we take in our minds with kids with bedhead and perhaps only in their underwear, doing schoolwork at a kitchen table still covered in dishes, is still good enough. That those snapshots are still worthy of remembering because they are authentic. Our kids won’t remember the mess. They won’t remember the fact that most of their homeschooling wasn’t Instagram worthy. They will remember that we loved them enough to take on the task of teaching them. To sacrifice so very much to do this life. They will know that we were quite simply, enough.
This quote by Plato is a perfect embodiment of our we view our homeschool. We truly want our kids to delight in learning new things and thus the knowledge will stay with them.
[su_quote] Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. – Plato[/su_quote]
I found this quote and it struck a cord with me. My 6 year old has a bad case of “I can’t read-itus.” He struggles with reading big time. I often wonder if it is me that isn’t teaching him right. I get very frustrated when he guesses, blurts out words that aren’t even close to what is written or just flat out gives up. I know that he is a very smart boy. I know that it just may not be his thing. I have heard all of this and have gone through it with my older son. Each child is very much their own person and I know I shouldn’t compare them to their older sister, but she was so easy. So I found this and I was reminded that I should not be so quick to be discouraged and I should be more encouraging towards him. He can read! No if’s, and’s or but’s, my kid can read. I will accept that he can read not by my standards but by his and his age. He loves to listen to stories and that I can work with!
So cheers to Plato for putting this momma back into her place and being okay with a 6 year old reader.
Many of us that choose to teach our kids at home carry a secret shame with us. Especially those of us who do not work outside of the home. Plain and simple, we don’t feel like we are working in a career or even gaining and growing skills that would translate to the workforce. Perhaps it is because of how society views those who homeschool. They look at homeschooling moms and dads and say “They are just staying home and parenting, not doing anything special or useful. Now, go get a real job and get off my lawn while you’re at it!” Or, perhaps it’s because we don’t always see the value of what we do day in and day out. …
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[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]h, the Black Plague. Such a cheery topic to study as part of our History this year. Okay, maybe “cheery” is not the best way to describe the greatest pandemic in recorded history. It is however, very interesting, especially to our 12 year old daughter. You see, she took a class as part of our co-op a few years back about this period of time and has always wanted to dive deeper on it. …
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Homeschooling is challenging for everybody. We all have our own individual issues that make this journey somewhat less than smooth sailing. In my case, my “challenge” is that I am nearly blind. Before I continue, I think it is important to say that I am not seeking pity or special consideration. It is simply how God has made me and as a result of my disability, I have had to learn to adjust and adapt in every situation. It has helped to make me who I am and I wouldn’t want to change that. Perhaps by reading this post, others may feel empowered to do things that they didn’t think they could. Like homeschooling their kids.
I have had some level of visual impairment my entire life. I have had somewhere north of 25 different eye surgeries for cataracts, retinal detachments and glaucoma amongst other things. Soon after our second child was born, I suffered a detachment in my right right eye that could not be repaired and I lost all of my vision in that eye. What I am left with is about 40 percent of my visual field in my left eye which means I do not have much peripheral vision on that side but I can see some. The lack of peripheral vision makes playing sports an interesting experience which usually ends in getting whacked somewhere on my body with whatever ball is being tossed around. I can see at about a 20/80 level while wearing corrective lenses. Without lenses, it’s pretty much all blurry all the time. …
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I am a unicorn. Or, maybe I am Bigfoot. One of those mythical creatures that everyone has heard of but no one has actually seen. I am a homeschool dad. In other words, a dad who actively participates in the process of homeschooling my children. Wait. What? I know, I know. We are a rare breed but we do exist.
Now, based on all the books, blogs, videos and magazines that are out there about home education, you would think dads who homeschool was a rare occurent indeed. Nearly all of them are targeted at moms and start with sentences like “Listen up ladies…” or “To all the homeschool mommies out there…” or even “Hang in there momma…”. Just once, I’d love to see one include all the dad’s out there that either participate as teachers on certain subjects or even handle the majority of the teaching duties. We do exist and we want just as badly for our kids to benefit from all that homeschooling has to offer.
Homeschooling was initially my idea in our household. I wanted so much more for our kids than what the school system in our area would or even could offer. It took a small amount of convincing to get my wife on board and now we are in our 8th year of schooling our 4 kids at home. Now, my lovely wife has handled all of the teaching duties up until 2 years ago when I jumped in to support her and take on teaching our oldest. She has done a fantastic job and in order to focus on what the 2 boys needed from mom, Peanut began to come up to the office with me for a more distraction free environment. As an auditory learner and thus easily distracted, it was a better match for her learning style anyway so it was a win-win for all involved. Plus, it allowed me to see how hard yet rewarding it is to be my daughter’s teacher.
As a dad who is teaching my child, I am often looking for resources and helps online. In that search, I constantly find materials targeted at moms and their particular needs. I am hoping that in the writing of posts and developing material for this blog, that maybe us dads can get some focus too. I mean, even unicorns need love, right?
As parents, every homeschool year starts off full of eagerness and excitement. We picked the perfect curriculum for each child, we’ve planned out the first several weeks at least and it’s going to be fantastic! Then we start the actual school year. And ‘fantastic’ is not the word we would ever use to describe it. There are the normal challenges like getting back on schedule, balancing school, sports and life stuff, and getting Peanut to wake up early enough to do any school at all.
Then, there are the curriculum adjustments. After doing this for seven plus years, we’ve learned that no matter how hard we work to pick the perfect curriculum, we always have to make adjustments to it to tailor it to the kid. This year is no different despite my efforts to pick THE PERFECT ONE. So, six weeks in, I am making adjustments.
Heart of Dakota is a great curriculum and it may be absolutely ideal, out of the box, for some kids. Peanut is not most kids (nor are most kids, I’ve come to realize). The emphasis on history is heavy and there is a lot of written narration centered on the history components. In theory, this sounded great to me. In practice, with a perfectionist child who worries over every sentence that she writes, this leads to very slow progress. I can either keep going at this snail’s pace or make some changes that will allow her to get most of the benefit, but in a faster way. I’m still working out the method, but we are still soldiering forward enjoying most of the other components of HoD which we love. Especially the science (Apologia Astronomy), Shakespeare and Poetry (Emily Dickinson).
Long story short, don’t be so beholden to ‘The Plan’ that you don’t end up doing what’s best for your kid.
Click below to view the update. This was our first Unit in the new curriculum and even though it took us 2 weeks to get through, going at half speed, we really enjoyed it. The history project was very fun and really challenged her artistic mind and getting to read some Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson was a huge bonus.