Our start to homeschooling last year began with a rocky start, a long break for re-evaluation, and then a much more successful second attempt.
And this year—well, it hasn't been without it's own adjustments. It seems that everyday, I'm tweaking our schedule, our system, and our material. And everyday, I'm closer to where I'd like to be. Of course, there are those days when success comes to a screeching halt and triumph throws a tantrum in my school room floor. But then, I call it a day, re-evalutate (again), and tweak a little bit more.
It's been in the midst of all that tweaking that I've come to appreciate a few of the opportunities that come from the fine-tuning:
1. Involving others in the solution. Sometimes a situation is more than I can handle on my own. That's a tough reality to accept. But I can't educate my children by myself. And yet that humbling reality leads to a much richer discovery in the help I receive from others.
My husband has been one of those heros, coming in to save my day. Discussing the school day with my husband and including any frustrations or challenges I've faced allows him to stay connected with the family. And his objective advice on those situations has, on many occasions, been exactly what we all needed.
My mom has also been a huge contributor. Having homeschooled me and my two siblings, she has the perspective and retrospection that I often lack. From her, I get to hear what she found helpful and what she would have done differently.
Other homeschoolers also offer a wealth of wisdom. I interact with internet homeschool groups and even occasionally send questions to my favorite bloggers. Their perspectives and advice have often been revolutionary for me. And the beauty of the internet is that it doesn't matter that they are homeschooling all the way across the country; they can instantly become my cyber-neighbors.
2. Realizing my own short-comings. I'm not perfect. And facing that fact, that I could be the one at fault and not my student, is extremely helpful in a couple of ways. First, it allows me to be more patient with my children's short-comings (especially when I see that they've inherited those faults from me). Second, it forces me to depend on a Strength outside of myself. For when I am weak, then is God's strength most evident. Both my children and myself are able to see the Lord answer prayer and become a vital part of our homeschooling day.
3. Learning and understanding more than ever before. I've heard many times that you learn a subject best when you begin to teach it. Whether that subject is phonics and reading or modern art and poetry, teaching forces you to learn. Like the mother bird digesting the food for her chicks, I must digest every fact before I present it. And that is one thing I want my children to see: that you never outgrow learning.
4. Discovering who my children really are. I've learned more about my children and their personalities in the last several months of schooling them than ever before, in spite of hours of playing blocks and capturing imaginary bad guys. I see how they react to challenges. I see their response to success. I see what does and does not motivate them. And I see every time their eyes light up with understanding. I'm a part of nearly every moment of discovery, and that does more than just create a special bond. It also prepares me for my role as a parent.
Taking my lessons from the school room, I better understand what will provoke my child to wrath and frustration. I have keener understanding of what motivates and inspires my child. And with that knowledge comes a higher accountability to make the most of the opportunities I have with each child to nurture and admonish in the Lord.
5. Recognizing that homeschooling is not a place or state of being but a process and a journey. It's not about where we are educating; it's about how we are educating. It's about having the opportunity to make those adjustments rather than to helplessly look on while a child stumbles through learning. It's about the privilege of taking a breather together and facing the challenge once more, united rather than at odds. It's about having the means to administer the changes that are necessary.
Heading into our second year now, I'm certain we will constantly be making adjustments. But I want to see those adjustments as more than just rescheduling recess or pulling out a new activity. The changes do help my child to learn better, but they also provide an opportunity for me to learn as well.