Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Homeschooling: Day 1

Today is my first official day as a homeschooling mom.

This is what my kids looked like as they headed off, respectively, to preschool and back into our home classroom:

And this is what I looked like as I headed back into our home classroom:

Being the planner that I am, I have lists of topics and projects and resources and crafts. I have lesson plans and a ringbinder and evaluation charts. I have worksheets and educational websites and DVDs and library books. I SHOULD know what I'm doing: I have experience, I've done the research, I've put in the preparation time, and yet somehow I still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

I can't help but be reminded of when I was pregnant with this very child, my son, my firstborn, and my husband and I attended a one-day birthing class led by a wonderful L&D nurse practitioner with two children of her own, who told the class, "Go ahead and write up a birthing plan. Write down exactly what you want to happen, exactly how everything should go, what all of your choices are under various circumstances. [She paused for a moment.] And then rip it up and throw it away, because you're not the one driving this bus. Your doctor isn't the one driving this bus. Your baby is the only one driving this bus, and your baby is the one who will be driving every decision that is being made from here on out. And the sooner you accept that, the easier the whole process will be for all concerned."

I can't help but think that this wise advice applies to homeschooling as well. After all, one of the main advantages of homeschooling is that you can tailor both the material and the teaching methods to the needs and personality of the individual child. And no matter how well I know my son, there's no predicting how he will respond to a certain type of problem, or how well he will take to a particular subject, or what kind of schedule will work for him, once we actually get into the nitty-gritty of a scheduled and structured (however loosely) school day.

So I may have a fabulous list of science projects that include stinky and messy (and vaguely dangerous) chemical experiments, but he may only be interested in cleaner and neater (and absolutely dangerous) electricity experiments. Maybe he won't want to go on a nature walk. Maybe I'll need to figure out different ways to introduce him to the worlds of science and nature. I may have all kinds of ideas about drawing pictures to illustrate the stories we read, but he might have no interest. Maybe I'll discover that he would rather dress up like one of the characters in the book we're reading and act out what we just read instead of drawing a picture of it.

But I'm willing to experiment. I'm willing to wade through my lists of ideas and options and opportunities and see what works for us. I'm willing to throw a whole bunch of educational spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. I'm willing to take a page from my own notebook and come up with a hypothesis, test it out, and if it doesn't work, come up with a different hypothesis, and just keep testing.

It may be my son's home school, but he's not the only one who'll be learning a few things this year!

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