I'm sitting here at my desk on a quiet evening. I'm contemplating what to say and what to share with you. You see, we're wrapping up our 11th year of homeschooling.
All of my kids are now teens, and my oldest will be heading into his final year of high school in a few short months. My twins are learning to drive and I'm pretty sure they just started to ride bikes last week.
Please pass the tea and chocolate.
Instead of planning out crafts and lapbook ideas, I'm drafting transcripts. Instead of ordering all the fun homeschool things, I'm reviewing online high school classes, and community college guidelines, all why wondering how will we juggle these last few years?
More tea, please.
I methodically go through our books, curricula, games, and supplies to see what I might need to keep and what I can get rid of sooner than later. I long to make space and to declutter the homeschool clutter that can creep in when you've been homeschooling as long as we have.
We're way past the stage of crafts and fun projects and I'm probably holding onto things that we don't need in hopes that someone might want to build a Magic Tree House or make another Lego stop-motion movie.
I sometimes read the local Facebook homeschool groups and I see all the new homeschooling parents worried about the same things I was. I can hear the worry in their carefully typed-out messages. I can feel the love they have and the desire to do what is "right" for their child.
I want to reply to each and every one of them that everything will be okay, I pinky promise. And by "okay" I mean just that...okay. And that is amazing if you let it be so.
I want to tell them...
- It's okay if your kid plays all day long and reads their favorite book 37 times this month.
- It's okay if you do school in a cute little homeschool space that is decorated to the hilt.
- It's okay if you do school in the car—and by "school" I mean an audiobook and a coloring sheet and cookies.
- It's okay if you're 5-year-old kid doesn't want to read and do math worksheets. Somedays, my teenagers don't want to either... and play is the best curriculum for a 5-year-old.
- It's okay if you don't love homeschooling every day or every month or every year.
- It's okay if you spend a year doing only science experiments and watching science documentaries.
- It's okay to have a routine because that is what helps you and your family thrive.
- It's okay to not be okay and need a break. A real, true break.
- It's okay to re-evaluate homeschooling year to year and explore other schooling methods.
- It's okay to just do what works for you and your kid. No questions asked.
Maybe you planned to homeschool all along or maybe you got thrown into the deep end. I see you.
Maybe you've read all the how-to-homeschool books and made color-coded notes and spreadsheets. You're all in, baby! This homeschooling gig is lighting you up daily. I see you.
Maybe you're just trying to get through the day because your kid is struggling with something that feels bigger than reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. I see you.
Maybe you're a single-parent stepping out in faith with homeschooling and you're doing what you can and are bound to make things work in a way that feels good to you. I see you.
Maybe you're working a job (or two) and homeschooling and caring for a family member too. Maybe you wish you could get to those homeschool events, but during the day doesn't work, so you figure out how to make homeschool connections at night or on weekends. I see you.
Homeschooling is not what it was five, ten, or fifteen years ago. With the rapidly changing technology, growth of social media and online communities, and more and more people choosing to home educate, things are evolving. I see communities and connections popping up everywhere and it makes my heart happy. If you haven't found your group yet or if you feel alone, don't give up.
Try not to let yourself get overwhelmed by the overwhelming amount of homeschooling information and content. It's easy to spend hours (days?) researching and reading everything and wanting to get yourself 100 percent prepared.
Our kids are growing, breathing, and eating balls of energy. They will have ideas that are different than yours. They will have desires and interests that do not match your weekly lesson plans. Make space for their interests. Make space for your interests. Make space for life and messes and illness and trips and donuts for lunch.
Look, I know people think you need the patience to homeschool and that others will question your sanity. You might be asked seemingly ridiculous questions about your homeschooling choices. You can answer them or not. You can smile and nod or offer them a piece of your secret chocolate stash. You know you're doing what's right, right now. You can see it in how your child is thriving and how, most days, this choice feels right in your bones.
And that, my friend, is the gift.
Wishing you all the best and a hot cuppa tea,