I don’t know if there is a week that goes by without that nagging feeling that I just may not be enough for my kids when it comes to home educating. I’ve homeschooled our eight kids from the beginning (starting over 20 years ago), and we’ve graduated 5 so far, but for some reason this fear seems to be one of those that consistently rears its ugly head.
One advantage I have, though, is perspective. It does help to be able to see that our older 5 are doing well. They are actually thriving…which is what I fall back on over and over again! But the flip side is that every child is different. Any mom, and especially a homeschool mom, is painfully aware of this, and I think that’s why that recording keeps playing in our heads (including mine)!
When our second daughter was asked what she thought about this particular struggle that homeschooling moms have, her response was awesome! She said, “I feel like this demonstrates a lack of confidence in your kids and their natural ability to learn.” And you know what? She is RIGHT! Instead of being consumed with what we feel like we lack, we need to remember that their learning is not solely dependent on us! In fact, as I look back over the years, I can see that my kids learned SO much more on their own. My role was more of a facilitator. When kids “own” their project or whatever it is they are investigating, they learn WAY more much sooner than we ever could! Their thought processes and reasoning kick into high gear, and what they learn is remembered so much more readily!
When we become a student of our children through observation and asking questions, we find out SO much more about how they learn, what interests them, and how they relate to the world around them. When we are aware of these things, then we can simply provide them with tools and resource to pursue their interests. This can come through asking questions or helping them find books, documentaries, and other relevant resources to learn more about what they want to know, but it’s important to know when to back off and let them run with it.
For our family’s homeschooling, what that looked like was spending our mornings in a routine of breakfast, chores, and some basic book work. This took maybe an hour (or less) when they were in pre-k through 1st grade, and then slowly we increased the book work as they got a little older. By noon we were finished with math, language, and handwriting. Their afternoons were spent exploring outside, experimenting, and playing.
Our oldest son told me that if he had not had the time that I gave him to experiment on his own, he would have never discovered so early what he wanted to do as a career. He was 12 years old. Because he had this experience, he was able to start college at 16 (dual enrollment) and graduated 5 years later with a BA in Computer Science, a minor in math, and a minor in communications systems. He is 21 now and has started his career. And, for the record, by the time he started algebra in 8th grade, I couldn’t help him anymore. How did we deal with that? He asked his dad lots of questions and actually figured out most of it on his own. Because he had found his passion (and he knew how to work hard), he was motivated to do whatever he had to do!
The point is we don’t HAVE to know everything to give our kids a great education. We just need to know our KIDS…and we need to be resourceful. Don’t be afraid to outsource parts of your kids’ education, but don’t ever underestimate the power of letting them figure some things out on their own! Letting them struggle through problems and encouraging them along the way can be very, very good for them! When we do this, we raise thinkers, and the world could use a whole lot more of those!
For more encouragement, please check out Durenda’s simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling called The Unhurried Homeschooler!