I've only been homeschooling for 4 years, so I'm still new at this, but if there is one thing I've learned in my short time of homeschooling, it's that the homeschool mom has to be flexible. Life circumstances change from year to year and not every method meshes with every child. No homeschool mom out there can successfully make a 10-year, or even a 5-year plan, and expect things to go smoothly. Homeschool plans need to be tweaked yearly, if not monthly!
This year, God has led us to do Classical Conversations. I'm so excited and inspired by the recent CC convention that I attended with my friends, but I'm still open to whatever He has for us down the road. There are days when I'm quite sure that my two strong-willed kids will find themselves in public school in a year or two. Homeschooling is hard! Being around your children day in and day out can be rugged, no matter what awesome curriculum you are using!
When I began homeschooling, I just assumed that we'd stick with My Father's World for the long haul. I loved all of the fun projects we did together during our 2 years of MFW Kindergarten studies. I still highly, highly recommend their curriculum, but know that with the number of kids that I have, and their personalities, I personally am unable to do MFW anymore. For my sanity, I need a more-streamlined curriculum.
I was soooo blessed by the recent CC parents' practicum in Casper that I drove home with eyes misty with gratitude at the encouragement I received. Our speaker, Andy, was excellent and my fellow homeschool moms there were so helpful and amazing. I was refreshed by the teachings and fellowship (and let's not forget time away from the kids!) and came home with over 23 notebook pages of handwritten notes from the 2 days I was there. I was able to pinpoint where I could grow and how I'd been making my life harder than I needed to in my last year of homeschooling.
Because I have SO MUCH to share from the conference, I will break it into a 6-part series so as not to overwhelm you here! So, expect a new post on Classical education every Tuesday here for awhile!
One of the first things our speaker, Andy, did was make fun of us. There he was, in a room chock-full of zealous homeschool moms, and he began to rib us.
His affectionate term for homeschool moms, his own wife included, is "Freak-Out Homeschool Moms." He described the typical enthusiastic homeschool mom with great ideas who wonders if she's doing enough for her kids. He even caught some of us being "FOHMs" right there, frantically taking notes so as to absorb every word he said and planning homeschool book purchases from an ear-marked catalog.
Andy did a little skit in which he showed us a History timeline card and what the typical FOHM does. Instead of just training their child to memorize the phrase (for example: The Fall of Rome) and perhaps read a brief description of it, the FOHM goes ballistic trying to get their kid to understand everything there is to know about the Fall of Rome. They build a model of Rome, and/or read 10 books on Rome from the library, and/or try to do a play on the subject. Meanwhile, the child's brain, in the grammar stage, is a sponge, ready to easily memorize the phrase in the timeline, but not ready to absorb all the extra info. Later down the road, as the child matures and grows, he will enter into a stage where he can process more details and have an understanding of what we can learn from history, and if he has memorized the facts as a younger child, he will have the memory "peg" in his mind from which to start from.
Andy's little example really hit home for my friend Lori and I. Lori has used Sonlight for many years. We both try to make school as fun and interesting as we can and we go overboard trying to immerse the kids in literature and information, without realizing how simple school really can be! Lori will be teaching my 2 boys this year in CC and I will be teaching 2 of her kids! So, it was fun to learn together at the conference. When Andy talked about how LESS IS MORE and KNOWING FEWER THINGS WELL rather than many things vaguely, I felt as though a 50# weight had been lifted from my back. You mean, I don't have to add a bunch of extras to the weekly lessons to be doing an okay job as a homeschool mom? You mean, we don't have to learn all of the "Why's?" right now, and we don't have to understand everything we are memorizing or studying? You mean we don't have to do everything the curriculum suggests to succeed in homeschooling?
Andy's solution to Freak-Out Homeschool Mom syndrome is:
Love your husband.
Love your kids.
A few times during the conference, he had us repeat this with him to remind us what is truly important.
Regardless of what schooling method your family is doing.
Regardless of what curriculum you choose.
Regardless of how organized or academically proficient you are.
Love for God and our families is what is truly important. Because we care about our families deeply, it's all too easy for us homeschool mamas to become FOHMs and forget the basics.
Sometimes we need to just breathe and consider what is eternal.
This year, because of the conference, I am being the least like a FOHM than I have ever been. Normally by this time of year, we'd have started school with a huge sh'bang and I'd have an hourly schedule neatly typed and ready to follow. I'd be scouring the library for all kinds of supplemental books that I could read to add to the curriculum and trying to get a head-start on the school year so we don't fall behind.
But this year...I'm not. I'm so thrilled with CC's simple method that I'm content to wait until mid-September when we start school with our group, knowing that we will still finish 6 weeks ahead of the public schools in the Spring. I'm confident that my kids will learn everything they could possibly need to know with this program in our 24 weeks of school. As for Lori, Kristi, and I, and the 6 other moms doing CC with us, we are excited to be learning along with the kids. I have a college degree, and I do not know 1/24 of the information that my kids will be memorizing this year, so I can't wait to dive into it myself and learn, learn, learn!
If you are a FOHM, or just a FOM in general, take a quiet moment to breathe deeply and focus on what really matters.
Love your husband.
Love your kids.
God is with you friend!
Next Tuesday: Part 2--The Way Our Brains Learn