It’s our seventh year homeschooling.
It sounds like a lotta years. It sounds like experience, wisdom and confidence should abound around here after seven years.
Confession time – The truth is, sometimes our seventh year feels exactly like our first.
Just like the toddler years slowly ebbed away into preschool, my boys’ homeschool has slowly moved from elementary to middle and high school. Every season is different. Every year is different.
The needs changed, the maturity levels grew, the interests intensified, and our homeschool had to morph right along with it all.
I am pretty sure this is how it’s supposed to be.
After seven years, I thought I would have this down, but I was wrong. I have realized that there will always be a new set of circumstances that require me to respond, to flex and to re-think how I approach this crazy thing we call homeschooling.
Seven years in, this need to shift and change is the only thing that feels more comfortable. It’s what informs the experience, wisdom and confidence I have gained over the course of my boys’ childhood. It’s what I want to share with you today.
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7 Things I’ve Learned In 7 Years Of Homeschooling
1.Difficult Isn’t Always Wrong
It used to be that when things weren’t working, I would crack down harder, and panic. I would research new curriculums, come up with a new schedule, get out more worksheets and essentially overreact. I used to think that when something was difficult, it meant that I was obviously doing something wrong.
What I have learned is that sometimes, things are just hard. Difficult doesn’t mean I am failing or doing it wrong.
2.Every Mom Needs a Homeschool Stash
My homeschool stash is a pile of interesting books, hands-on activity components and favorite sensory items that are sure to capture my boys attention on days when it is not going well. Right now, there is an illustrated Harry Potter book, a handful of real fossils, a book about STEM activities to do at home, and a really cool stress ball all stashed away waiting for the day I really need them.
Your stash will probably have different things in it, but trust me, seven years in, I think every single homeschool mom should have one.
3.Different Does Not Mean Less Than
This has been a hard lesson to learn, and if I am most honest, one that I am still learning. Our school day looks dramatically different from anyone else’s I know. In seven years, I have learned these differences do not make it any less than any other family’s learning.
We spend more time with online media. We drive around and listen to a lot of audio books. We do math on the trampoline. We do what works.
4.Embrace Your Own Minimum Expectations
With the certainty of change ever looming in our homeschool days, I have also learned that sometimes, I need to define my own minimum expectations for our schooling and stick to them. I am a person too in this equation, and I have some needs of my own, in order to be able to thrive as a homeschooler.
My minimums include listening to a good book every day, getting outside, and discussions about whatever it is that we are working on. If we do these things, I feel like we have met my absolute minimum expectation for our day. It’s not the ideal, but it allows me to embrace even the toughest days and feel a sense of accomplishment in circumstances that used to derail me.
5.Ice Cream is Always an Option
Seriously, this might be the best piece of advice I can give you. Seven years in, I know that when the day is just not working, for whatever reason, we can always jump in the car, put on an audio book, grab some ice cream and drive around. It resets everyone’s mood. It get’s us out of our own heads and allows the three of us to regroup.
And, there’s ice cream.
6.It’s Not Easy
I have started to look at homeschooling the way I used to look at my career. I never expected any job I ever worked to be easy. I am not sure why I keep thinking that my “job” as a homeschooler is somehow going to be. While certain elements of it are certainly smoother, the truth is that homeschooling my boys is hard work. It just is.
7.It’s Worth It
No matter how difficult it may sometimes be, no matter how much it requires of me, makes me crazy and increases my significant addiction to coffee, homeschooling my boys has always been and continues to be 100% worth it.
After seven years of homeschooling, I am grateful to be able to say this with confidence –
I am so glad we made this choice.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.