Ahhh, the beginning of a new year. With decorations safely stowed and everything in the house fresh and clean again, my thoughts easily turn to what else I can tidy up and invigorate. Guess what’s usually next on the list? Yep — homeschooling.
I make lists of things I want to accomplish with the kids. I browse bookstores and online categories for new material. I contemplate schedules and online classes and textbooks and worksheets. I visit blogs and hit inspiration overload. I ask the kids to list everything they want to learn.
We go gangbusters for about a week. Two if we’re lucky. And then, inevitably, life takes over and things fall by the wayside and we’re back to our zany, unorganized homeschool life. The life that absolutely works for us.
So this year, I’m trying out some different homeschool resolutions. They look a little like this:
- Avoid homeschool comparison and envy. It’s easy to get caught in this trap — to listen to other homeschoolers gathered at open gym or to read blogs and think, “Wow. Those kids are entering essay contests and building rockets and racing snowmobiles and the only thing we did this week was make scented play-doh.” So what? Are your kids happy? Did they have fun with the scented play clay? That’s all that matters.
- Embrace white space. For a lot of homeschoolers, a full calendar provides a soothing impression of a thriving homeschool. If you’re gone every day, doing field trips and classes and play dates, surely the kids must be learning. But days at home — to put together puzzles or play outside or, heaven forbid, help Mom clean — are just as valuable. Learn to see the value in those slower moments.
- Value what you have. We live in a society that conditions us to continually want more — more material goods, more money, more everything. There are many a day where I think to myself, “I wish each kid could have their own laptop.” Or, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a real piano instead of this cast-off Casio keyboard so the kids could really learn to play?” But we don’t. And we don’t have the luxury to contemplate buying any of those things. But we do have a laptop the kids can share and we do have a keyboard with working keys. And I am grateful for all of it.
- Lower your expectations. As an unschooler, I tend to jump on the kids the minute they express an interest in something. They want to learn how to count to ten in Spanish? Great! Let’s join LiveMocha and watch all your TV shows with Spanish subtitles — you’ll be fluent in no time! Interests will be fleeting. They’ll come and go. Do I support and nurture these? Of course. But they need to be in charge of how far they want to go. Not me.
So there you have it. I’ll call these my “Realistic Resolutions.” Will I slip up? No doubt. They’re New Year’s resolutions, after all. But, just like every year, I’ll do my best…