I often have new or prospective homeschoolers email, call or visit me to pick my brain about homeschooling. They are always full of questions and I’m happy to share what I can. I’m certainly not any sort of expert but I can share my own experiences and ponderings.
I thought I’d address some of these questions on this blog as I know many people go hunting online for answers before getting up the courage to track down a homeschooler to meet and chat with.
I’ve decided to start with the question I feel that people really want to ask sometimes but aren’t bold enough. This question is something I see in some of their eyes. It’s also something that non-homeschoolers tend to blurt out in disdain.
It’s not that I’m any better at mothering than any other person, it’s that I’m so used to being with them all the time that I missed the familiarity of the situation. And from my heart, I’d rather be desiring to pull them closer than getting away from them…this answer comes from familiarity too. From being with them so much, I know that I want them close.
Drawing from my experience when I first became a mum, being at home alone with a child wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. I think we imagine a couple of preschoolers, who can talk, feed and toilet themselves, snuggled on the couch reading or playing a game together.
It did take quite some time to get used to being at home. I did feel out of touch with the world. I did miss interactions with my teacher friends. I did feel left out of the loop, when friends talked about work. And I did feel that friends weren’t entirely interested in listening to me talk about my life at home with a baby.
So what did I do to overcome these feelings, which I imagine aren’t all that different to a mother leaving work to homeschool her children? I acknowledged them as valid feelings. They weren’t right or wrong feelings. They were what I felt at the time. I did attempt to address them though. I made sure I got out of the house once or twice a week. Admittedly it was only for a day of window shopping at the shops or perhaps visiting Grandma but it was enough to have something different in our week. I also sought out new friends who were experiencing similar things. I needed someone, who was excited and interested in things about my new life, who I could share with and learn from. But yes I kept my old friends too but I just had to get used to the fact that things had changed and I would have to learn to enjoy their company with a different perspective.
The thing that made it easier for me to make these changes and not be persuaded to give up my new role at home was that we had made a commitment to the decision. To be at home was the best thing for my child and we wanted the blessings that it promised. We were committed. We weren’t wishy-washy about the decision. To me it was like a marriage…until death do us part kind of thing. I didn’t need to be in two minds over whether to go back to work or not. I didn’t need to lose (any additional) sleep worrying over whether my feelings meant I wouldn’t be able to cope in this new role. The decision was made, we knew it was a good one and whatever trials and obstacles came with it would just have to be overcome because we were going forwards!
What does this mean to new homeschoolers? Well I think you will have some adjusting to do, as will the kids if they are being bought home from school. It may not be easy. It may not happen quickly. But if you are truly committed to the decision to homeschool then, in time, homeschooling with become your new familiar. Make contact with some homeschooling families or perhaps a homeschool group. And try to leave the house once or twice a week…perhaps a simple walk to the park or maybe something more elaborate like an excursion. Over time you may not feel the need to get out and about quite so much, but I do think it helps in the beginning.
But most importantly, consider your commitment to homeschool. If your heart isn’t 100% committed (even if your only planning to homeschool for a temporary period), every bad day will seem like a sign to give up and return to school. When you make a firm commitment to homeschooling, then a hump in the road is just a hump in the road. Tomorrow you can continue on, moving forwards in your homeschool journey…however long the trip is that you have decided to make.
Ah but make sure you allow yourself, and the kids, time to get used to being on this new journey….time for it to become your new familiar. Acknowledge any uncomfortable feelings as valid, but don’t allow them to be your excuse for giving up, if what you truly think is best is being at home educating your own children.