OK, I know what you may be thinking – it’s HOME school, but when I first read that phrase “Our Home is not a School” it was so amazingly freeing! You see, I, like many homeschoolers starting out, was doing just that – trying to make our home a school.
I will never forget our first year of homeschool. I bought supplies, boxed curriculum, art supplies, wall charts and even desks. I really did everything I could to make our dining room resemble a classroom. I even had our daily schedule up on the wall because, you know, if you have a schedule everything goes as planned, right? Yeah, not at all!
So here we were in our first year of homeschool and I have the kids dress nicely so we can take our “first day of school pictures.” I wrote their grades on the card stock and had them pose by the front door. The irony would be that not even one week later, I already decided to bump our daughter up into 1st Grade with her brother! So much for a solid plan!
About 1-2 months into our first homeschool year I started feeling absolutely overwhelmed. We weren’t keeping the schedule I set forth, the boxed curriculum wasn’t meshing well with our kids’ special needs, and even trying to keep up with putting charts and things on the wall was just so overwhelming. That’s when it hit me – our home is not a school.
In trying to make the “perfect homeschool” I modeled it after what I knew about school – public school. School with strict schedules, wall charts, assigned desks, even a teacher standing up front and teaching. When I look back now I can laugh, but at the time I was distressed that it wasn’t working out for us!
Why do we try to make our homeschool look like school? Many of us do what we know, and that means modeling a teaching style that reflects that of a classroom. Our home is not a school, though, and although I don’t think there is anything wrong with perhaps modeling your homeschool that way, it’s important to know (particularly for newer homeschoolers) you don’t have to go through all that!
When I took a step back and realized what I was doing, I was able to turn it around and take a more relaxed approach to homeschooling – one without strict schedules or feeling like a failure if I didn’t put up the alphabet chart. We have a homeschool now where we don’t even use desks but rather sit together as a family. We use the dining table when we’re writing or doing art projects. We also go outside once in a while to learn in the midst of God’s beautiful creations.
One of the biggest advantages in homeschooling is the flexibility, and when we’re able to let go of that mentality that homeschool has to be this strict concept of teacher and students, we can see the bigger picture. Your bigger picture may be very different than mine or your friends’ or other homeschoolers, and that’s the best part! Be encouraged! You can find what works best for you and feel accomplished knowing you’re doing what is best for your family.
What is one of your favorite advantages in homeschooling?