What is Your Homeschooling Life Like?
© Beverley Paine March 2008
Jennifer wrote and asked me: "Even though I'm 17 and have 6 years to find a husband and even have a kid I have decided to home school my children since my brothers and sister go to really bad schools. I just wanted to know what your homeschooling lives are like."
My homeschooled children are now all older than you are, but I think I can answer your question anyway.
Life wasn't always a lot of fun, or even very interesting. We focussed on doing things together that meant something to each of us, rather than on 'getting an education'. It was important to me that the children grew with self-confidence, realising that they have their whole life to learn whatever it is they want to know and do... All I needed to do was make sure they had the tools and know how to use them to help them learn.
This made homeschooling life much easier because most of the pressure parents and children feel to perform academically or otherwise were removed. Life - and homeschooling - is what you make it!
In retrospect, with two decades of experience, I'd say that the most important thing to remember as a prospective mother intending to home educate is to be a parent first, teacher second (or not at all!).
Concentrate on bringing up healthy happy children. Make sure they get to play, sing, dance, run, hop, skip, tell stories, laugh, sleep and imagine every day. Give them quality toys that make them use their imaginations. Spend hours every day talking to them. Play with them. Pretend with them. Ask them what they need, what you can do for them. Protect them. Feed them good quality nutritious food and give them an unpolluted environment in which to live and play. Allow them access to lots of friends, but don't over do - children need time to be alone and love to spend endless hours daydreaming or doing nothing at all!
Get to know your inner child and be guided by her wisdom. Don't completely grow up. Retain your curiosity about the world. Help your children retain theirs...
Be the best parent you can be. That way you know that homeschooling is going to be great for you and great for your children.
Whenever we felt insecure or unsure about homeschooling it was always because we were comparing ourselves or what we did to what was happening out there in the world - looking over our shoulders to see if we were measuring up to other people's expectations. This usually made us unhappy and we'd stop learning; learning would stop being a wonderful family journey where we helped each other achieve our individual goals.
It can be frustrating at times - you know the old saying - you can choose your friends but you can't choose your relatives! However, being together for a lot of time meant that we couldn't let relationship problems fester, we couldn't ignore problems, we had to sort them out as they happened. This has meant that we're very close as a family - not only then, when we were homeschooling, but also now, as a family of five adults.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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