I’ve been at this homeschooling thing for a while. I have six children and my oldest is 14. I began contemplating homeschooling when she was about six months old, so I do say I started homeschooling about 14 years ago.
Luckily, one of the first homeschooling books I read was Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. This book helped me to start out with less of a “school-at-home” mentality and more of a family-centered ideal. However, when I read that book, I only had three children and my oldest was 4. A lot has changed since then!
Two moves. Three more children. Getting older and more experienced.
Years of Obsessing
For many years, homeschooling was my all-consuming passion. I read everything from Susan Wise Bauer to Sandra Dodd, David Albert to Karen Andreola, and I’ve learned something from all of them. It would be nice to think I’ve taken the best from each.
From where I sit now, with all the information I’ve gorged on over the years, I believe the biggest factor in homeschooling success is cultivating a homeschool mindset. It’s not a particular method or guru, it’s not the amount of time spent “on task” and it’s not doing what school does, when it does it. It is recognizing that your family is not a school and that is good. A homeschooling mindset is drastically different from our cultural school-centered mindset.
A Step Beyond “Deschooling”
A lot of people call this “deschooling,” which can be a long process. I think it’s taken me 20+ years! I’ve only stopped having those stressful paper due/test dreams in the past year or two. However, at the end of deschooling, you hopefully walk away with a homeschooling mindset that allows for a much more relaxed, calm and enjoyable homeschool.
Also important is to guard against replacing that school-mindset with another rigid homeschool ideology. It’s so easy to do, especially when you’re just starting out because you want to believe so badly that there is “one right way” that will produce intelligent, caring people. You want to follow the steps, check the boxes and be guaranteed fabulous results.
Over the years and in meeting various homeschooling families of all methods, I now believe “method” has very little bearing on the end results. There are wonderful kids who are homeschooled classically, just as well as unschooled. There are also kids who struggle, just as many do in school.
My Homeschool Mindset List
I’ve come up with my personal homeschool mindset list, and I’m sure it will grow and change. Some of these were easy to recognize and adopt, whereas others have taken many years and bad days. I would love to say that I never forget these things, but I have to remind myself of their truth often.
Learning is Everywhere
Everyone Grows & There’s Time
Strewing is Good
Judgment is Bad
Recognize your Fearlessness
Accept the Unknown
It’s not all about the kids
Don’t Expect Perfection
Be Interested and Interesting
Create Your Own List
These may or may not apply to your homeschool and that’s OK! Every family is unique with its own culture and atmosphere. Embrace yours!
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