I have been thinking a lot about one word lately. The word is perspective.
Almost one year ago, we moved from the Northeast to Southeast Texas. I’ve had almost 12 months to reflect on many things. Through reflection we gain perspective.
For instance, much of the country is still struggling to disentangle itself from a particularly harsh winter. Unusual amounts of snowfall, below freezing temperatures, ice and hazardous conditions have proved to be problems in many areas, not just the northern parts of the country. Even in Southeast Texas, we have had our fair share of obstinate Old Man Winter. Is it anything compared to what we experienced in the Northeast? I’ve found myself shaking my head and chuckling many times over the panic that a little freezing rain can bring.
Our experiences shape our view of reality. Until we have experiences of a broader nature we may be unable to evaluate a situation with the greatest clarity and wisdom possible.
Obviously, this applies to homeschooling. Perspective will be one of your greatest tools in developing a more ideal learning experience for your children.
If you just started homeschooling in the fall, have you found that you would do something differently now than you did six months ago? If you’ve been homeschooling for two years or more, are there several things you would approach differently? I’m guessing the answers to both questions are, “Uh, yeah!”
On good days I like to refer to my children as my “Magnum Opus” — my “greatest work.” Magnum Opus usually refers to the greatest work an artist can do in his or her lifetime. As home educators we are artists. We are molding, sculpting, experimenting, crafting, honing, guiding, modeling, and building. The art is constantly changing and evolving to be something other than what it was in the beginning.
On other days, I refer to my children as my “Grand Experiment.” My oldest is called Phase I, and the youngest? Phase II, of course. I’m not always certain how Phase I or Phase II will turn out, but indications thus far seem promising. It takes a certain amount of gutsiness to experiment on your offspring, but I always tell myself, “Better me than someone else.”
For us, experimenting encompasses an eclectic blend of learning styles — from classical to interest-led learning, to unschooling. The ultimate goal is to raise self taught kids who are willing and capable of steering their own educational course. By taking responsibility and ownership of what they are learning at any given time, the journey becomes far more personal. They become invested.
Bear in mind that each child is different and will probably require you to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew — several times over.
Let’s re-visit the winter weather example from above. Just because our experiences may not be broad, that does not make our experiences less real or valid. What you are living right now is your reality and it is important. It is necessary to value it and understand how it will eventually impact your decisions in future days, months, even years.
Thank goodness we are worthy of forgiveness. If we don’t get it right every time — it’s ok. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. Use what you learned last month or last year, and make positive changes based on those insights.
Take heart — spring will surely be here soon. It’s a great time to look back on the past school year and honor everything that went right. For the days you are unhappy with or ashamed of, put them aside. With perspective, all those days will become valuable lessons learned and time well spent. Your children are your greatest work.