Good question. Even more relevant now when, out of a sudden, we have two kids to teach.
But let’s start from the beginning…
Homeschooling is not a walk in the park. It is hard. It is brutal. You are on the front line. You get punches, and you cannot fight back. If it doesn’t work, it is YOU who sucks! No one else to blame! And… OMG, a few months ago, I was already in such a good place… Let me tell you how I got there, ‘cause it was a long and bumpy road.
It is like in one of those video games that my kid is playing: you’ve got places to go, monsters to kill to level up. I failed so many times, so let me get you through it. Maybe it’ll be of any help to you (please note: this is the version for parents without teaching experience upon start)
First, you try to get your kid to sit next to you, for educative purposes, for at least 30 minutes – not easy and very frustrating. Breath in, breathe out. Tomorrow is another day.
Then you listen that you suck and that you are not even close to the “real” schoolteacher. This is the first time you think that maybe homeschooling was not the best decision in your life.
After few weeks, you experience more or less regular, but still nervous, school days. And you are still constantly panicking about the quality of education you deliver…. Breakdown number one.
That level takes some time, but eventually, you will reach some regularity with a taste of boredom. Good! At that moment, when you are ready to put some fun in school, but you don’t know it yet, because you still experience brief episodes of panic. By the way, it really doesn’t help that you watch some stupid movie where some imperfect, but kinda-perfect teacher turns the school into some cheerful playground, inspiring kids, who then thrive, not to mention… they love everything about that school. (damn!) Or, if you are less lucky, you meet some hyperactive mother who is telling you how creative her kids are, and that, after school, at 1pm(!!!) they are experimenting with various techniques of painting!… (fffff…..k)
Yep, in that particular moment, you are three levels down, because in your head: you suck (again!). You have just managed to regularly deliver languages, math, some science, and you are not even close to thinking about music, art or so. Nothing works, because the harder you try, the less fun it is. It’s been already a year or so into homeschooling, and every morning your kid has this face “ok, I’ll do it, whatever”. If you knew what I know now, you could say/think something like: “eF-you “perfect teachers”, eF-you “perfect mothers” (or fathers, no discrimination here – however, fathers are rarely discussing schooling methods. They are more like solar energy/alternators/lithium/”I need more Amps” kinda stuff)”. But you are probably not there yet. At this stage, tears are also pretty common.
This is very important to get your sh(*&^ together, and make it work, because – GAME OVER- is a real threat here! You don’t want to end your dream journey like that, do you?
it’ll be aaaaall right…
sip one, sip two, sip… there you go girl!
and then take one more for the road… 🙂
Eventually, you will see your kid as a pretty awesome creature who already knows quite a lot. The kid who reads, calculates, tells stories, draws awesome drawings (in ONE particular technique and monochromatic, yet still awesome), and who has his own opinion on basically everything. So, instead of forcing your educative plan, you will start to follow your kid. You’ll take school wherever you go, you’ll show how the theory works in practice, and that’s it!
You win this game with the first honest smile on the little face! (btw. It doesn’t mean “every day”. There are days when you, for example, teach spelling because that, my friends, is a huge pain in the a… when it comes to Polish!)
So this is me, let’s say: in January, taking it easy, steady making progress through science, languages, art, socials, and even music. Fricking ninja of home education, awesomeness pumping through my veins! But then…
Teenager on board
… situation has changed. We have a real teenager here! I am not talking about Vincent’s teenage attitude (almost 11yo, who thinks he is 13). By the end of January, we have finally welcomed Natasza, my niece. We have been waiting for her for at least half of the covid year. The first time when we told our friends that she was coming, they looked at us as we were plain crazy. We were consciously inviting a teenage hurricane onboard! Obviously, they didn’t know Natasza, and they were not aware that it was not the first time she was coming to stay with us for longer. But still, you should have seen their faces ☺
This time she is staying with us for six months. Natasza is definitely the friendliest girl in the world, so the “living together” part consisted of stretching our boat to find a place for extra stuff. Initially, the mess was huge, but gradually we tamed it down to some livable level. Now we live in perfect harmony… hahaha – no! it is always messy around here. Kids are taking over more and more boat chores and learning how to work as a team. It looks and feels better every day. Our evenings are now reserved for the family. Board games, cards, dominos, movies. And days?…. school mostly, because…
Why-oh-why there are only 24 hours in a day?
… that was the biggest challenge. Few lessons in, I discovered that some parts of my brain must have been … that was the biggest challenge. Few lessons in, I discovered that some parts of my brain must have been surgically removed. Those ones that are responsible for the middle ages in France, definitions of mol density, or past perfect for “to eat” in German! My teacher’s comfort zone spitted me out on day 2, and I have been in outer space ever since ☺ It is WAY much more work to prepare for the lessons in high school, and you really don’t want to look/feel like an idiot. Well… I don’t.
Organization, in general, was a big challenge. It was quite a mess in the beginning. The school was ending at 4pm. Way too much, way too crazy, way too frustrating, and damn exhausting. First of all, Natasza had to learn how to deal with the homeschooling system. Believe me, kids are NOT automatically prepared for it. To be able to teach both kids, we had to start managing school like any other project we led in the previous life. Plan, execute, evaluate, repeat. However, right now, school is over, and official test results came with pretty good grades. Moreover: everybody is still alive, there is no pending divorce, nobody ran away, the boat is afloat, and we still enjoy family evenings together. Now – time for holidays, and where? IN EUROPE! Hurray!!!
From the battlefield of homeschooling,
White Dog Crew+