Well, I survived!
I have received many questions about how I do school, while holding down a full-time job, outside the home four days a week. It hasn’t been easy, for the most part. But, I am thankful that we stuck with it and didn’t throw in the towel and give up. Oh, there were so many moments when I wanted to give up! I thought I would share with you some of the things that helped me to survive my first year of homeschooling while working full time.
I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to invite God into my homeschooling. I prayed about everything, from curriculum choices, to scheduling, to taking days off. I prayed for wisdom, strength, grace, patience (which got me into just a little bit of trouble), endurance and more coffee. Yes, I prayed for coffee! I prayed for my girl, that she would bend, but not break. I prayed for her heart to come alive to this new journey, for her to fully embrace and accept this as God’s will for her (at least for now, which I am not sure she’s fully convinced yet), and for God to bind us together and deepen our relationship. Some things improved, some we are still working on. This is a journey, not a race.
I spent countless hours reading homeschool blogs trying to figure out what it is I was supposed to be doing. I would read until my eyes burned, late into the night. I would see what methods they used, what curricula they were teaching, what field trips they were taking, etc. In the end, I drove myself crazy! I realized, albeit late in the game (I could have saved myself so much heartache) that homeschooling does not and will not look the same for every mom. Because of my unique situation as a working mom, things will look much different for me than most homeschooling moms. What is important is that I listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading in the day-to-day schooling of my child. Ultimately, I don’t have to answer to anyone else but Him.
Enjoy some time off.
Yes, there are certain laws about how many hours in a school year a child must do school. I get that. But in reality, and in order to save my sanity, breaks were necessary. This is especially vital when you decide to pull your very hormonal 7th grader out of school, for the first time ever, to school her at home. Hormones, attitudes and stress levels need room to breath. We went for walks, did some shopping, went to lunch, watched movies and ate chocolate, some days before we ever opened a textbook. My first priority this school year was the heart of my child. We still have a lot of work to do. Breaks allow for necessary breathing room and an opportunity to dig deeper to pull out the gold that I know exists in my child.
Letting go and moving on.
I can tend to be a perfectionist and a control freak. I’ve come a long way, but there are still parts of me that want to control my daughter’s behavior and performance (like that can be done). This year, I had to learn to let go and move on. After the Christmas break, I let go of everything except Math, Science and History and moved on. I was trying to hang onto things that weren’t working, for the sake of accomplishing something that I determined had to be done. I was stressed, my daughter was overwhelmed, and nothing was working. Letting go of the things that were causing the stress allowed us to pour our attention into those things that were necessary and most important. We can always catch up next year.
Remember my role.
This was by far the hardest for me. All of my daughter’s life, I’ve been mom. And we all know that with a budding pre-teen, “mom” can be over-bearing. Add to that “teacher”, well let me just tell you that at times the air in the house was so thick you could taste it. Learning to relate to my daughter as mom AND teacher was a eye opener. God reminded me that I’ve always been teacher, just not in the light that my daughter was accustomed to. Learning to gain her trust and respect in this area has often been a tug-of-war. We are still working on our roles.
If there is one thing homeschooling has opened my eyes to, it is those areas where I feel I’ve failed as a parent. As we’ve fought the battle of the wills, struggled through attitude adjustments, wanting our own ways, and the speaking of harsh words form time to time, I’ve realized that there is still a lot of parenting that I must do in order to have a well-adjusted, Christ like child. I have had to forgive myself for my lack of parenting in certain areas. We still have a lot of work to do, but over the last few weeks, I’ve seem a glimmer of hope. God is able to come in and shore up those areas where I am weak. I have no doubt that next year will be better on both the parenting and teaching fronts.
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How about you, my friends? Are you wrapping up a homeschool year? If so, what has been your biggest challenge? What has been your greatest joy? I would love for you to share with me in the comments below.