Week One of the Great Homeschool Experiment has been completed! There were ups and downs, but I ended every day feeling triumphant and exhausted. Here are some of my take-aways from the week.
1. Kids need routine, but readjusting to routine is brutal.
My husband warned me of this. He’s a “real” teacher (I put quotation marks because as you’ll see in the following point, I don’t think that teachers who teach in schools are the only real teachers. Keep reading.). He said that the beginning of every year is just about managing expectations and reorienting kids to their schedules. For me, not only was I reorienting my class of two back to the idea of school, I was introducing a new way of doing school. The first day was fantastic. The novelty of starting kindergarten was just exciting enough to propel them through the day! But that novelty faded entirely by day two. By day two, they just wanted to be allowed to play Barbies in the playroom and forego all lessons. But my discipline is teaching them discipline. I persevered through school and they did as well. Which leads me to my next take-away…
2. I am not just teaching school.
I’m teaching my daughters how to be functioning parts of our family, how to weather responsibility, how to be helpful, and how to be disciplined. Our day doesn’t start with academics, but it certainly starts with lessons. We do chores together before breakfast and I’ve given each of my girls a new task; for example, putting away their folded laundry, something I had previously done for them. By the end of the week, they both did this chore without being told. It’s tremendously sobering and awesome to realise that by having them home, as functioning parts of the family, I’m teaching them to be better stewards of their future homes.
3. Homeschool teachers are absolutely teachers too.
No, I don’t have a teaching degree. But my free time is spent researching better ways to teach material, learning methodology, and activities for young learners. In theory, I never doubted that homeschool moms were real teachers—a large percentage of my teachers were homeschool moms, after all, and I think I turned out okay. But in practice, I’m afraid I looked down on the amount of work my mother and mothers like her have been doing. This is a huge undertaking. A full-time job. There were a few days this week where I all but fell into bed exhausted at the end of the day, unable to do more than give my husband a little kiss before immediately snoring.
4. Dress for the job you want until it becomes the job you have.
This is a kind of silly take away, but I dress like a kindergartener teacher now. Think Jessica Day from New Girl… Skirt, cardigan, one day I even wore shoes. There’s this idea that homeschoolers just do school in their jammies. Well, maybe I’ll do that in a week or two. But oddly enough, looking like a teacher has made my kids respect me as a teacher. Because I take this seriously, they take this seriously. And besides, the day I started school in a less professional t-shirt and leggings, they asked to wear their Elsa costumes to school.
5. I now understand my mother’s coffee addiction.
I thought I was bad before, but suddenly I have a cup of coffee in my hand all day, begging my body to keep up with two incredibly active kindergartens. I will now only ever be giving my teacher friends coffee gift cards. We clearly don’t need anything else.
6. I am finally where I am supposed to be.
I’ve wanted to be everything. An opera diva. An actress. A writer. A career woman. But I’ve never fit into those roles perfectly. They were like ill-fitting costumes I was trying to pass off as everyday clothes; always what I thought I wanted and needed, but always ever so slightly uncomfortable. After twenty-seven agonising years of trying to find myself, I am completely at rest where God has wanted me to be and needs me to be. This is my calling: to be home with my children, teaching them and training them, and to be a wife, orchestrating and organising my household to see my family thrive in the best way possible. This is the opposite of what I was told to want as the modern American woman. But I don’t care. I am where God wants me and I have never been happier or more fulfilled in my life.
7. I love my children so much it hurts.
They‘re kids… At some moments they are difficult, stubborn, don’t want to learn, belligerent, and throw tantrums. But mostly, they are kind, caring, sensitive, loving, hilarious, always brilliant little sponges that soak up all the information I throw their way. This job is a joy and a privilege and I’m so grateful that I’m being given the opportunity to raise them AND teach them.
Week Two is fast upon us! I’m so excited for the rest of this year!