An interesting thing happened when I stopped reading other people’s homeschooling blogs.
I started asking myself what I really wanted OUR SCHOOL to look like.
I was doing a lot of “I love that! I wish we did that;” set to repeat. So many beautiful things and lovely ideas, endlessly scrolling past and scolding me with shoulds and oughts. Or, worse, those moments of “I wish we’d done that,” because I really did come to this homeschooling thing a little late. There are a dozen things I wish I’d done differently in my children’s first few years of school. (For starters, how about not sending them?) But since there’s no way to change the past, camping out in regret is not really very effective. (Aw…..camping out! I wish we’d done that! Wait….)
The book Gaston is a new favorite in our house. One line sums up perfectly how I feel in any attempts I make to manufacture a perfect homeschool: “There. That looked right….it just didn’t feel right.”
So I sat down one day, in the midst of “that’s not us….what is us?” and came up with three statement starters:
Our family is…..
Our family loves…..
Our family believes….
I then asked every single family member to give me three endings to each sentence. (I finally stopped asking the four-year-old. Even though she seems incredibly old for her age, she didn’t quite get this concept.)
It seemed really simple and basic, and I absolutely got some flippant answers (twelve and fourteen are the perfect ages for that). But honestly, when I was studying the responses later, I realized “Our family loves….the library app” is a pretty succinct summation of one facet of our family.
I spent some time really thinking about this first question: What does a homeschool look like for this family? There are a thousand ways to “do homeschool,” but what fits us?
This family that is “bookish,” “quiet,” and “loves the library app” is probably going to be heavy on reading and maybe not so crazy about a ton of events and co-ops.
This family that is “weird” and “different” might need time to chase all their interests….Star Wars and music and Ponies and music and writing and music….and outside time when no one else wants outside time lol. (We’re the ones at the park when it’s 45 degrees and cloudy; once it’s above about 83 and sticky, forget it. We’re hibernating.)
Can I add that the “weird” and “different” was a unanimous verdict? I’m kind of thrilled to pieces that we own it that proudly.
The idea that our family–again, unanimously–believes in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, working in the world and our lives, tells me that memorizing Scripture needs to be in the heart of our home somewhere. We might not even call that “school.”
As I dug through their responses, I could feel our school starting to take shape.
The second question I asked myself was, What do my kids need? Not “need” in a “needs work” way, but what do they really need?
My son’s response of “Our family is….exhausting” tells me I need to find a way to create another spot of quiet in our home. With everyone here, all the time, it’s incredibly difficult to find quiet.
Both big kids need more outings; some adventures in their “school” experience. I need to plan those adventures for mornings, because my energy is shot by afternoon (and because I need my quiet time, too).
My daughter needs more beauty in her school. Just because her brother doesn’t like read-alouds and poetry tea-times doesn’t mean she has to miss out….and there’s the little one, too, to pull in for the fun stuff. (And let’s be real. He can turn up his nose at the idea but if there’s treats on a table, who wants to miss out on that?)
My son needs as much freedom as possible in his learning. Key words: as possible. It’s an interesting balance, me calling some shots and allowing him a voice within that structure.
All kids, always, need some uninterrupted alone-with-parent time. Always.
Sitting with these two questions has begun to allow me the freedom to own this homeschool. This is what we do. “That looked right,” for us, “and it felt right, too.”