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Like it or not, it’s that time of year again. Next week students in our county and the surrounding counties head back to school.
People are always asking me if we are ready to start back. Almost always it’s a no, at least in recent years. I have dreaded the whole back to school thing. Like most teachers, I feel like the summer has passed way too fast, and we didn’t accomplish at all what we wanted or experience the fun we wanted to.
Nonetheless, it’s time. It’s time to put on my big girl panties and face this new year. I’d rather not dread it. I’d rather embrace it and enjoy it because the years are only getting shorter. That is, if you’ll remember, the reason we started this homeschooling journey in the first place.
While homeschooling in itself can be hard, there are things that tend to steal our joy.
- Comparing ourselves to other homeschooling families
- Comparing what we accomplish (or don’t) with the school system
- Expecting too much or too little
- Being afraid to be “us”
Trying to measure up or keep up is never a good thing, and it will always leave us lacking because we never can keep up or measure up to everyone. It’s just impossible.
As a former teacher turned homeschool mom, I think it is so difficult to get out of the standards and “this is the way it should be done” mindset. But in order to have freedom and enjoy who we are, even in our homeschooling, we have to somehow–someway–get away from that.
Feeling Trapped in a Box
For years I’ve been trapped in this finding-the-best-curriculum-to-keep-my-kid-even-with-his-peers box. Can I tell you how exhausting it is?
You buy a curriculum because it’s supposed to be the best or at least “good.” You find out three weeks in that you hate it, but you are stuck because you paid good money for it. As a frugal-minded mama, for me it’s hard to ditch it, so we trudge on. What happens is that we dread it every single day, and we fight against ourselves and each other in the process.
I’m putting my foot down! I refuse to be trapped in that box anymore. And the comparison trap? Sick of it!
As parents, we know our children best. We know what is likely to work for our family and our children. We have to stop being so focused on keeping up only to lose our kids in the end. I refuse to do that another year.
With another baby due in the fall, I cannot strap myself to some boxed curriculum that doesn’t work for us. Am I saying that boxed and ready to go curriculum sets are bad? Not at all. I used them for years, and some of those years continue to be our favorite years of homeschooling. I mentioned in last year’s top picks post that we loved Sonlight. It’s amazing curriculum, but it became too overwhelming for us as our family grew. It is hands down still one of our favorites! And for new homeschooling families who have no idea where to start, I can’t recommend it enough.
Charlotte Mason Homeschool
Over the summer I enrolled in a course called The Charlotte Mason Framework after receiving a weekly newsletter from Dollie–quite like some of the ones subscribers get from me. When I read the email, I melted. It was like she knew how overwhelmed and done I was. Done. Like ready to march those kids down to the schoolhouse next week–done. But her words struck my heart, and I knew they were meant for me. She said that homeschooling could look different, be freeing, be fun, and produce life-long learners. That I could enjoy the days with my kids instead of dreading them. This is a different look at homeshool for me.
Honestly, though I had heard of Charlotte Mason (what veteran homeschooler hasn’t?) I had no idea how to implement her teachings because I hadn’t found someone who could really explain them to me. What’s funny is that the reason we loved Sonlight so much is that it takes much of the Charlotte Mason approach and incorporates it into the curriculum. That alone should have given me a clue!
As I continued through the course, I knew that this Charlotte Mason homeschool approach was right for us. Do I fully understand it all? No way! But I’m committing this year to embrace this method of teaching my kids.
What is the Charlotte Mason homeschool approach?
Charlotte Mason believed that “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Children learn through not only reading and arithmetic, but also through songs and play and experiences. It reminds me of the quote I love so much by Mr. Rogers, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
This year, we are taking a deep breath, finding things we love, and pursuing them! That’s not to say my kids are going to love every lesson. Obviously, they do have to learn, but I’m embracing the fact that real, living books can teach them what they need to know.
Honestly, here we are less than a week from when our schools open, and I am not completely sure how it all should look. I’m not even sure what books I want to use yet, though I have an idea. It’s still all being fleshed out in my mind, but I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to this way of schooling with my kids. And truthfully, it’s been a while since I had this much of a calm in my spirit regarding the new school year.
If you are overwhelmed and sick of the comparison/measuring up game, at least give the Charlotte Mason homeschool approach a good glance. Since I’m still in the learning/researching stage, check out what these bloggers have to say about Charlotte Mason’s approach.