Profile of a Homeschooling Parent: How Many Jobs Do You Have?
© Beverley Paine 2006
So many of us fall into the trap of taking on too much as homeschooling parents and become overwhelmed. Our confidence in home education drops significantly and we begin to wonder if our children are disadvantaged. Well-meaning friends and relatives agree: "it's all too much for you" and "your children would be happier at school..."
it's time to take a good hard look at how many jobs you have and if you're being reasonable about what you can actually do each day!
I am a mother: that's my first job. It doesn't define me as a person, it's just my most important occupation at the moment. As a young mother I believed that there was such a thing as 'good parenting'. As an experienced mother I know that those 'L' plates never come off my forehead! I am still a learner mum: with children aged 25, 23 and 19 I am acutely aware of this truth. So get used the idea early - there is no such thing as 'good parenting': there is only 'parenting'. We do our best but like all other occupations it's largely on-the-job training and the training manuals don't cover all situations. Flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing conditions, together with a healthy dose of compromise, will see you through!
Second job: home maker. Why do I place this before home educator?
being a wife isn't a 'job', but I believe it is vital to family life for the parents to pay constant attention to the state of their relationship. The children won't always be underfoot. The guy I married is my best friend. He's the one I'm going to hang out with for the rest of my life. Few mums spend as much time with their children as home educating mothers: at times it can seem like our whole lives revolve around our children. We seem obsessed with parenting and education! It can definitely look that way to our partners, so it's important to remember that home education is but one stage in our lives. Our job is to prepare our children for that time when we finally let them go and they fly confidently from the family nest. We do this best by showing by example. That's how our children learn to survive: how to feed and clothe themselves; how to keep themselves clean and free from harm; how to keep the peace and get along with others while asserting our independence and individual rights. We teach our children how to live responsibly by being responsible homemakers.
Home is where life is happens. It's where life is nurtured and supported. Home is at the centre of human life. Let's celebrate the work we all do in maintaining healthy homelife, no matter what role, big or small, we each play.
What we do each day at home may not earn us a diploma or degree. We may not get a certificate at the end of each term. What we learn isn't tested by others, but by time. We judge our own performance and improve as need determines. It's not about education, it's about living and living well.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and are thinking like your friends that homeschooling is too hard, then perhaps it's time you stopped trying to be a teacher. You don't live in a school; your living room isn't a classroom and these aren't students before you. They are your children, this is a home, and you are a parent. Be a parent and a home maker first... You'll be amazed at how much of the school curriculum your children will learn without those carefully contrived lessons once you relax into a more natural learning lifestyle.
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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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