Note to Self: Homeschooling Edition
Written by Irina Gallagher
This week, we survived the first week back to school after a long holiday break. This marks the beginning of the second half of the school year in our household. As the semester moves forward and we imminently edge closer to the “Have we done enough?” stage of the year (or May, for short), I thought that it might help my future May self to have a few reminders jotted down in which I can later take a bit of comfort, or perhaps more like a list of homeschooling goals for the remaining five months.
Dear homeschool-teaching self,
- You’re doing great.
- Keep trying to chill the f*** out. In all realms, really, but in homeschooling especially. No one is benefiting from your freak-outs. Also, congratulations on losing your composure less. Those B complex and magnesium supplements seem to be helping. You’re the poster child for patience and serenity. (Maybe by May this will be true.)
- Realize that everything you don’t accomplish in your scheduled plan isn’t a failure; it’s a lesson in the complications, surprise opportunities, and unexpected nature of life. Count what you have achieved because of said “failure” rather than the “failure” itself.
- Don’t compare your kid’s accomplishments with anyone else’s. So what if another kid is doing calculus in second grade? Good for them. Your kid has her own amazing capabilities. There is no need to be arrogantly defensive; other children’s successes have no bearing on those of your child.
- Keep your scheduling in check. You know that your family needs to sandwich days of social, outside stimulation in between quiet days at home with no outside influences.
- Pause at least once a day to reflect on how thankful you are to be able to homeschool and cherish the moments that wouldn’t be possible without this gift.
- Don’t let people’s questions dampen your spirit. Every homeschooling parent has heard them, “How do you know that you are doing enough?” “How long do you plan on homeschooling? Surely there’s a limit.” “Aren’t you concerned about socialization?” Know that some people are asking with good intentions and from a place of positive interest, while those that ask in condescension clearly don’t know how awesome your homeschooler is. Spam them with some of the hard number infographics you’ve found on Pinterest of why homeschoolers are soon going to be ruling the world (basically).
- Remind yourself constantly in spurts of “we need more extracurriculars” that you don’t need to boost your anxiety levels with extra activities, nor do your kids need to be dragged around classes-galore and on massive amounts of field trips. We are just not that family. It’s not in us genetically. Yes, of course, don’t miss incredible opportunities afforded to you. But don’t involve yourself just because you feel like every other family is participating more than yours in such endeavors. Just because there’s a field trip, doesn’t mean you have to go.
- Contain yourself when you find the “perfect curriculum” that will carry your kid all the way through their entrance into college. Remind yourself of the last time you found the, ahem, “perfect curriculum” and decided to go all in, spent loads of money, and decided – upon further consideration with all parties involved – it wasn’t so perfect after all. Don’t commit to years of something. It’s not practical and it’s ill-fitting to your homeschooling style.
- Remember that your strong-willed kid arguing with you endlessly about not wanting to write (or equivalent), is just a prequel for when she uses that steadfast brain of hers to do something absolutely extraordinary in the world. That tenacity will be most warranted then.
- Don’t give up. Take a break, step away, reassess, and remember that changing your mind about your homeschooling approach or homeschooling in general is allowed. Don’t make any rash decisions after a particularly hard days.
- Enjoy it. Even the absurdly difficult days. Like everything else in parenting, this time is very short-lived. Enjoy it.
- Buy wine. (Magnesium will only take you so far.)