Sometimes in the middle of a rough homeschool day or rough season, it would be nice to sit and chat with a veteran homeschool parent. Those that have graduated kids from their homeschool have lots of wisdom. They didn’t always do it perfectly, but they have the benefit of looking back over decades and reminding those of us in the trenches what really matters.
I found this type of encouragement recently while reading an interview with Michael Farris. As a homeschool parent, co-founder, president, and chairman of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, Mr. Farris spoke candidly about homeschool essentials. We are great at heaping onto ourselves burdens of curriculum, pressure, guilt, and comparison. If your homeschool is in need of some peace and confidence, pay attention to these three secrets.
1. Focus on the tools of learning
How many of us stress that our children are going to have gaps in their education? What if they don’t finish that biology course? Will they grow up to be literate adults if they don’t read every title on the recommended literature list? What if I’m not good at math, yet I’m the homeschool math teacher? Ahhh!
Mr. Farris gently reminds us that no one will ever master it all by twelfth grade.
Here is what we should focus on:
There are two aspects of home education that need to be mastered in K through 12: language and numbers. Those are the tools of learning. You need to master words, and you need to master numbers. Everything else is exposure.
Phew! So, on a “bad” day when you can’t possibly get to everything on your list, focus on the basics. Words and numbers.
You’re not going to master . . . anything . . . in the K-12 sequence. You’re going to give your kids exposure. Exposure is good, and exposure to a broad range of things is good. But you don’t have to master all this stuff. As long as people understand this, they can avoid a lot of sleepless nights about some of the details.
2. Mom shouldn’t be working harder than the kids
There’s something completely wrong if mom is overwhelmed by the homeschool curriculum, but the kids are not engaged with it or putting much effort in.
Pick choices that are easy on Mom. . . . Don’t pick [curriculum] that will stress you out. Pick ones that are workable and functional for your family and do a good job for your kids.
Sometimes simple is better. Maybe you don’t need a curriculum with all the bells and whistles because you dread all those bells and whistles. Your kids need to be working hard. But that doesn’t mean mom has to burn out every year. Go minimalist with certain subjects for a season.
3. Find your groove
Your homeschool will look different from your friend’s. It will look different from your favorite podcaster’s. Our children are unique. We are unique. Our seasons of life are always changing. This year might be the year of the new baby, the cross-country move, the sick parent, the health issues, the learning disability diagnosis. Find your groove and allow yourself to be content in it. No more comparison games. And the public school down the street? Don’t compare yourself with them either.
The last thing is, don’t think you have to punch the public school’s clock. If you want to teach a different calendar, teach a different calendar. And don’t get overly hung up about looking like other people. Just get it done.
Which of these secrets are the most encouraging to you? Share with a friend who needs it!