Gulp...this is a moment in time when everything changed. Just minutes ago I clicked send on an email that was informing our principal and vice principal that we made the very tough, yet very thought out decision to home school our youngest child who is in grade 4 this year. My nerves have got my stomach in a knot and yet the fear or uncertainty that sets in when we make a decision isn't here to stop us but to remind us that change can be scary at times but can also be empowering (if we let the nervousness turn into excitement and curiosity). The thought of doing this was on my mind since early June when I couldn't even imagine being ready to send my babies back to school during a pandemic. I also know that living in fear isn't the answer but being a believer in intuition, I have had a strong gut feeling that home schooling would be a part of our plan for this year...I just didn't know it would only be 1 of my 3 children.
When I became an elementary school teacher back in 2002, I had no idea that someday I would be faced with a decision to home school any of my children. I think the biggest misconception about home schooling is that it has to follow the same schedule as traditional school or that our kids will somehow not get enough socialization. As I try to break down my own fear and misconceptions about the journey I am about to embark upon, I remind myself that it is okay to start something new without having all the answers and without having it perfect. So many of us fail to start something new because we've been programmed to believe that what we have is what is best for everyone...that following what we've always done is safe, or we somehow think we can't start if we don't have it figured out.
Some incredible thought leaders recently reminded me over the past weekend that the most important part of any journey is knowing why we want to do something and then allowing each step to show up for us as we have the courage to take the next step even if it isn't fully visible. Trusting the process is something many of us say, but fail to allow.
Do I know how to home school? No - not exactly. There are endless resources with ideas of how you can set it up and plan for each day, but like with anything, no workbook or guidebook is going to truly prepare you for the act of doing. The only way we can really learn is by doing it each and everyday and by course correcting when something isn't working. I also believe in allowing our children to see us make mistakes. The more we can be honest and real with them about the uncertainty we may experience at times, the more we can prepare them to not expect that everything will be perfect as they learn and grow and that it is normal to be unsure or to even struggle at times.
As teachers and parents continue to do their best this year, my thoughts are with each of you. This is a year unlike any we've ever lived through. Some of you are also thinking that you may want to home school or that you wish you had the choice to home school...and some of you are happy your kids are back at their school this year and you hope things don't close up again like it did in the spring. Wherever you are with this, I commend you. My respect for each of you is undeniable...you are doing the best you can too - I know. Decisions about our children are never easy...we make decisions in hopes they are the absolute best option for our kids, we don't want to mess up. This decision wasn't an easy one for our family. My husband and I have different thoughts about it all (which can create great (and difficult) discussion that just shows how much both parents want the best for their children and we come from different perspectives at times). We nurture change, we nurture growth, we encourage our kids to try new things even when they don't know how it will go and today I remind myself that it is also okay for us (as parents) to learn and grow and fall down and to get back up. I am certain that it will not be perfect. I am quite sure I will have moments of regret or feelings of defeat. I am also certain there will be some things we learn that we had no preparation for...some of the best learning experiences are not something planned out, but they happen as we live our life and do our best. I am scared - yes, AND I am hopeful at the same time. Making a choice to home school or not, is part of living a life of choice, of taking a chance (and a bit of a risk) and learning as we go.
At this point we never know if we don't try. Worst case, my (almost) 9 year old may have more time at home learning things in a different way and she may want to go back to traditional school sooner than later. Best case scenario, she will enjoy home schooling a little too much and we may be in a place of having to try to convince her about why it would be great to go back to school for 5th grade...or maybe home schooling will become part of our new way. Who truly knows? But wishing we tried isn't the same as going for it!
Ironically, we have 3 children in our family and the older 2 are really enjoying being back at school this year and I am happy they are thrilled to be back. For their sake I hope schools don't shut down - because learning online wasn't enjoyable for 2 of my kids last spring, so being at school is their best option. My youngest (who will be home schooling) is super social and she is often considered a comical child in her classes...she knows that being home schooled was a decision that she helped to make...we encourage that our kids speak their truth and I am fortunate that this is an option we can have (I appreciate that not all parents have this choice). She is also very aware that she will not see her friends as much as she would if she stayed in school and her words, "I would rather be home schooled and not see my best friends everyday in my new class than have headaches and feel uncomfortable each day at school" (masks are not helping her at all right now...they have been giving her chronic headaches since her first day back). Even if masks were not mandatory this year, I believe we would still home school her considering the current circumstances, the masks just made the decision easier. This is something we believe can make a big difference for her well being, consistency of learning & her growth and her unique learning style and I look forward to taking on yet another important role as "teacher" again (in a non-traditional sense). Ironically the year she was born in 2011, I stopped teaching in public schools to stay home with my 3 young kids...and now almost 10 years later my "stay at home mom"/business from home status has shifted into business owner/homeschooling momma. Maybe a new, more exciting name for me will come to mind, but for now...the perfectly imperfect version of myself is enough to take on this new challenge!
I will use this site as a place to write personal feelings/growth stages and even moments of reality or defeat & I will also share home school resources that I find to be helpful in the case that you are also looking for useful things to help you as well.
If you are new to home schooling like I am...please feel free to connect with me on social media, I'd love to learn with you. Facebook, Instagram
My husband and I watched the documentary (on Netflix) called Amy. (about Amy Winehouse). I will say it was obviously a very sad story, but one where I couldn't help but feel that Amy was a genius in her craft and she was all about creating - not about gaining fame or fortune. She was pressured and had so many expectations on her after she became famous and as great as that may sound to some, many who love what they do, do it not for the fame or fortune, but because it fills them and fuels them daily. Sadly as she continued her journey, bulimia, drugs and alcohol took over her life. It appeared that she was crying for help and continued to be pushed beyond her limits.
To me, it reminds me that NO ONE knows your limits except you. It is our responsibility to teach our children and adults that it is OK and healthy to say no when we are being pushed. Growth is one thing, but being forced into something is not ok.
I challenge you to think about a time when you recognized that you were being pushed beyond what was best for you, but you did it because you somehow thought you had to or you would be letting others down. How about a time when you thought that by encouraging or pushing someone beyond their boundaries was healthy but maybe it was too much for the person and they didn't know how to tell you the word NO?
I am not saying that we should never go beyond our limitations - growth is healthy, but it has to feel right inside. So many people put so much pressure on themselves to perform, become, show up in a certain way for external acceptance...but when it doesn't match what is going on inside, this is the beginning of something very unhealthy which could become deadly.
We never know when a person feels lost inside, feels low self-worth, low self-love and pretends it is all good to "fit in". Together we can help. Stop putting pressure on others to BE a certain way or DO a certain thing. When people do become famous, respect that they are a human who has needs too - they are not an object to be used and abused.
Sounds like a teen issue, but this is happening to our adults too. We can make a difference by standing up for those who just want love and respect. (including giving it to ourselves and modelling this to others to as well)
Sorry, deep thoughts for a Thursday.
Hannah - 13 year old, loves animals of all kinds and loves to read. She has 2 businesses & such a love to help animals and children.