We’re two weeks into this homeschool experiment, which by no means makes us experts, but honestly, the day I start writing about being an expert at anything is the day somebody better knock me back down to reality. We’re all babies here, learning as we go, making messes of things and figuring out how to love better the next time around. Funnily enough, the kids and I were on a drive a few days ago and realized that the initials of our family perfectly spell MESS … coincidence? I think not.
So it is in that spirit of imperfection that I’ve embraced homeschool with our nine year old boy, Emerson. Because I am not keenly wired toward organization and things like schedules, this endeavor brought to the surface many insecurities for me. I sometimes look at other peoples tidy, efficient, well-manicured and beautiful lives with such awe and wonder. I stare, nose up to the glass, like I’m outside a shop window longing for the perfect lives they’re advertising. This whole dynamic is recipe for disaster, of course, as I have never and will never be like them. Because I am me. And because you are you. The thing that keeps being true is that there is only one way forward, and that is through. There is only one right way for you, and that is to do it as only you would.
The illusion of One Perfect Way came hard at me when we first looked seriously at homeschool. Because I have a 5 wing on the Enneagram, I dove deep into the world wide interwebs of information. Articles, blogs, Instagram accounts and curated magazines flickered across my screen, promising to show me the way. I admit, the more I looked into it, the more my insecurities mounted. It was like all the things I could never be were being paraded in front of me. I would never be the scheduled mom, the one who was always on time, the one who packed bento box lunches so perfectly they’d make the food pyramid fairy cry. I am more of a “winging it” kind of mom. I get to most places within what I like to think of as a loose ten minute window. I basically make the same meal every single day, sometimes twice a day (shout out to PB&J!) If my kids bathe three times a week, I consider it a win.
I was not so sure I could handle what it seemed was required for homeschool.
And so there were a few nights of tears, and lets be honest, that means all out freak outs followed by a glass (or two) of red and a couple (or all) episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Because, balance.
But then I pulled my head out of … the ground … and made myself face the fears. Because we all know fear is a liar, the little jerk, and when we stop running and believing it and start locking our knees and digging our heels in, everything changes. That scary lie suddenly seems like a small mean judgey suggestion from some rude bystander – the authority of the lie disappears when we remember to be brave.
Who knew a venture into homeschool would become an invitation into my own growth? Well actually, Jesus did, probably. My best friend is such a know-it-all.
So homeschool became less about following someone else’s agenda to a T and more about taking the wisdom from said someones and applying it to my own homespun curriculum. I literally took all my typed up, perfectly arranged, copied schedules and tossed them right out. I don’t work well on the computer when it comes to planning. I like it old school, I guess. I need to write with my hands, to see the words fill up the calendar pages. So I bought a planner. The first one I’ve owned since college, people. I set aside a day to plan the first six weeks of school, working day by day, leaving room for erasing, changing, moving as we went farther and learned more. Here’s a bit of what that looks like:
Character: Gen. 1 and discussion about what it means to be made in God’s image. Four chapters of The Whipping Boy: read, reason, relate, record (in our literature notebook)
History and Geography: Read Columbus pages 30-40 and record comprehension questions in History notebook; copy the map of Columbus into your notebook.
— GoNoodle Break —
Math: Lesson 13 Long Addition
Reading and Copywork: book of choice for 20 minutes followed by copying five sentences into your literature notebook)
Science: Read chapter 3 of Pagoo and record discussion questions and life-stage drawing into Science notebook
Now we don’t do the same thing every day, there are variables that we rotate depending on what the lessons and day look like. But this is a rough rhythm that we’ve been following, and so far it is working really well. We’re using curriculum and books for Character and History/Geography from Beautiful Feet. Math curriculum comes from Teaching Textbooks. GoNoodle is an awesome online activity app. Science curriculum comes from Ambleside.
Over time I hope to add in more crafts, art emphasis, music and composer focus, and possibly even an online class. But that will come. There is wisdom in pacing ourselves, there is something gentle and good about taking it slow.
I’ll write more in my next post about what this process has been like for me, specifically as an introvert and a working artist, as well as what I’ve already observed in Emerson as we’ve started the experiment. I’ll also share about what the dynamic has been transferring between being mom and being teacher, and vice vera. It’s been a super interesting journey so far!