So we finally started "back to school" last week. Of course, given all the other activities and experiences we took in this summer I'm not sure when school stopped so that we can go back; but hey...I'm willing to roll with the lingo.
As we go back to a more "structured" method of school in the fall, I always find myself at near panic mode. I'm sure it's a feeling all homeschoolers have felt at one point or another (or at least, I'm going to convince myself that it is a universal feeling at some point!). I worry about whether I am doing enough with my kids; am I introducing them to enough new concepts, am I spending enough time on each one and on school in general, are my expectations high enough, or the dreaded---are they doing as well as the public school kids? Sure enough, I fixate on those for a while and by week 2 1/2 I find myself and my kids in a funk about school. Why? Because I have become the homeschool nazi. We must do this; we must learn that; we must work longer, harder, more efficiently.
At that point, I will hopefully have a dear friend (or 3 like last year) who look at me and remind me that homeschool does not have to be "school at home". I love my dear friends. They keep me sane, make me laugh, and assure me that I am not (as I have envisioned the past 2 1/2 weeks) a homeschool loser. That's usually the point at which I sway back the other way and do great for a few weeks. Lots of hands on projects, lots and lots of time spent snuggling and just reading about great people and places. Lots of topic related games and field trips.
But then my worrying nature kicks in again and I go back to wondering if I am doing "enough". Usually by month 3 or so I've finally leveled out and we are good to go for the year; save maybe a few panic attacks at or around Christmas time and pre-standardized test time.
It's taken me several years (no comments from the peanut gallery, please!) but I finally see the pattern and I'm determined not to rinse and repeat anymore! This year, I am writing out my goals for schooling my children (yeah, I get it....I have lots of duh moments, okay?) and posting them in a place visible to me everyday. My hope is that by seeing those goals everyday I will be able to teach my children in a level peace that comes with knowing my goals are being met in a fun and creative way. We could spend lots of time writing and drilling vocabulary words about colonial times. Or, we could read about colonial people, places and things. Then we could make our own game using things that we've read about. Playing that game will be just as good at cementing those facts as the drill--but we'll all be much happier and enthusiastic. Then I can check off my goal knowing that they are getting what I say is "enough".
So I encourage all of us homeschoolers to map out the main goals we have for our students this year. May we all make wonderful messes, find "school" in hidden places in our area, and mostly may we cultivate the things in our children that are most important to our family. I once read a quote by W.B. Yeats that I will be posting in bright letters at all major intersection points in my house this year as a reminder. He said, "Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
Let's go light some fire!