Guest post from my friend, Lea Ann Garfias. Take her words to heart, homeschool mama!
Most of the time, when homeschooling has become hard or frustrating or terrifying or intimidating, it’s because I have made things difficult. I have this tendency to take a straightforward process and just complicate it up until it’s a big mess, and homeschooling is no exception.
So in my early years, I made lengthy lesson plans and bought huge boxes of curriculum and created detailed schedules . . . all for my three year old. It was so ridiculous, looking back. I totally missed the forest for the trees back then.
I’ve really scaled back now, nearly a decade and a half later. Having graduated one student and practiced several years of teaching elementary, middle school, and high school simultaneously, I’ve cut a lot of fat out of our homeschooling. Things are pretty simple, and the advance preparation is almost none, and the stress is virtually eliminated. I finally – FINALLY – found how to homeschool MY way.
And I’m not going to tell you how exactly I do that. So don’t hold your breath! Instead, I want to encourage you to find out how to homeschool YOUR way. Because if you are teaching to your strengths, and you are playing to your student’s strengths, everyone finds fulfillment and joy in learning. And the work is done a whole lot faster, to boot.
So how do you homeschool your way? First, you need to stop comparing yourself to other homeschool moms. Because I love you, but you aren’t me, and you aren’t Amy, and you aren’t the lady across town. You are you. “You do you” applies to homeschooling. For me, that means a lot of museums and read-alouds and deep discussions. Because in real life, that’s what I’m about. My personal strengths are a love for learning and deep thoughts. But your strength may be creativity or projects or glitter, and I’m not going to stand in your way.
Sometimes we get trapped because the curriculum’s teacher manual says, “The next lesson, say these words, ask these questions, and do this worksheet” and we think we must obey the book at once. But inside, we’re crying to explore a different aspect of the subject or create a project or do some field research or teach something altogether different. We need to give ourselves permission to be the teacher. We are in charge of the education – we are the boss of that book! So if we want to teach it another way or with an alternative emphasis, we can do that!
So that means you teach the way that fits you best. If your name is Lea Ann, that means quasi-classical. If it’s not, then you may be more Charlotte Mason or textbook or Montessori or lapbook or unit study or no-label-just-do-it. Whatever. I don’t care, and God will never ask you in heaven to defend your homeschool philosophy. Just teach and get the message out of the books and into your children’s hearts the way that suits you best.
And once you figure that out, you’ll start to notice that your student has his own learning style that fits him best. He may absorb every word he hears, or he may want to read the instructions to clearly understand them. Maybe nothing makes sense until he gets his hands on it and figures it out by trial and error. Most likely, he has a combination of a couple of learning styles, and he yearns to make the most of them. Let your student adapt his subjects or his curriculum to his strengths, and suddenly he may actually enjoy learning (even if he doesn’t want to admit that he does!).
Homeschool friend, you are the best teacher for your child. If things are tricky right now, if the new school year seems daunting, please take a step back from the lesson plans. Go look in the mirror, and ask yourself what that teacher right there wants to do. Then look at your student, and discover how he wants to learn. And then go do it. With joy.
Homeschooling can be easy, when you homeschool YOUR way! To simplify the entire process – and help you find your own unique strengths in homeschooling – I wrote the simple ebook Homeschool Made Easy, available on kindle.
Do you wonder what resources and materials can help you simplify learning in your home? Grab the FREE companion volume here, Resources for Homeschool Made Easy. And I’m always here to help; you can find me on Facebook here.
LEA ANN GARFIAS believes there is enough coffee in the world to make even dreadful Thursdays tolerable. In her book Rocking Ordinary (New Leaf Press), she helps ordinary moms realize their extraordinary influence. When she’s not homeschooling her four children, cheering at soccer matches, or performing the violin, she’s passed out asleep. You’ll find evidence of her existence at lagarfias.com.