As I sit down to mull over our first 20 months of homeschooling, piecing together our days, weeks and months, I imperceptibly come to recognise, the many struggles we have been through these past months. 2013 has been a particularly rocky year for our family, at this point I unwittingly become a tiny bit tearful...not for long though, as in the same breath I also feel thankful. Thankful, that even in the face of adversity, we pulled through as a family. We not only pulled through, but we pulled through and came out, with even more resolve to carry on with the homeschooling journey.
So, ruminating about all it took to carry on homeschooling, while grappling with the obstacles that life was throwing in our way, what am I taking away from my past experiences?
- My Intense Kids' Need For Rhythm.
When we started homeschooling we became quite lax about our day to day affairs. Bed times and meal times were quite erratic for a while, as the kids, specially my oldest, tried to maximise his waking hours. Although during the early months, I expected that he would soon find his own routine, I quickly discovered that with Mr Curious, anything worth doing is only worth doing if done to the extreme and that certainly included staying awake! He would also forgo meals, as he was deeply engrossed in his endeavours and always busy with one thing or the other. Mood swings soon ensured and a constantly grumpy and irritable Mr Curious did not make for a happy homeschooling atmosphere.
I also observed that Mr Curious needed a rhythm to help him navigate his days, or he soon floundered and became overwhelmed with what, when and how to do things. The need for order in his life enables him to foresee what will be expected of him in the coming hours of the day, he is then secure in the feeling of knowing what to expect. Although Mr Curious does prefer predictability it does not mean that he cannot deal with uncertainties at all. He just functions more smoothly and is more contented when he has a clear picture of the day ahead.
Even though Miss Delightful, does fare better without much routine, a rhythm to our days has certainly helped keep us afloat during difficult days. When turbulences were raging in the other departments of my life, having children who could muddle along their days without much fuss was an added advantage.
Our daily rhythm is much like a skeleton, helping to keep us as a whole and our homeschooling days moving.
- Change And Adapt - The Importance Of Being Dynamic
- Going With The Flow -Muddling Through Despite The Odds.
As our homeschooling is not confined to certain hours of the day or certain days of the year, but is infused in our every waking hour, going with the flow has been one aspect that has enabled us to keep progressing. Whether during the days of ill health or bad weather or simply when the children have bouts of uncooperativeness, I let go of what we are 'supposed' to be doing and let things flow, on their own course....Our homeschooling is our day to day living...which brings me to my next lesson.
- Most Importantly : Not Loosing The Joy Of Learning.
The ideology to not require but inspire runs strongly in our homeschooling
Mr Curious who has been taking keyboard lessons for the past year, was recently instructed by his piano teacher to increase his daily practice time from 15-30 minutes to 30-45 hour and after a few months, I noticed that he was 'practising' just for the sake of practice, he was not paying honest attention to his work! So as usual we talked about it and he made it clear that although he loved composing his own tunes, he actually disliked practising for exams....His heart was certainly not in this work. What worked for him in this situation, was when he was given the freedom to decide for himself how long his practices should last for. He was now making a tremendous effort to ensure his tunes were sounding right before moving to the next one....
Compulsion, I now know, does not work well as a learning tool in our homeschool and certainly does not motivate my children in any way.
- The Ability To Maintain A Perspective
Letting go of expectations, however small the expectations might be. Expectations, give the illusion of feeling unaccomplished, when they are not met. I have come to terms with the fact that, my children's learning is not about ME but about THEM. Unless they set their own goals at this point, I have now forgone the habit of trying to set targets that I would expect them to meet. Self motivation, I have concluded is what works for my children.
- Trusting In My Children's Innate Capabilities.
When we started on this journey, Miss Delightful had just turned 2. At the time I had not taken the decision to homeschool her along with her older brother, only because her temperament could suit a schooling environment better than did her brother's. As the months went by however, I watched her intellectual development in a new light. She taught me about her innate abilities, to become independent, and a self directed learner, her self motivation, her strength of character and her perseverance in undertaking her chosen ventures.
Learning to trust in the children's capabilities keeps both the learner and the facilitator motivated. The learner develops better confidence in his own ability to learn, grow and advance. The facilitator is motivated by the learner's motivation and continues to provide engaging materials and opportunities.
- Taking Time To Recoup And Reconnect.
The intensity that my children present with, is more than enough to wear me out on a day to day basis. While homeschooling we not only have 'learning' to handle, but the everyday happenings of a normal life too. I now understand the wisdom, in taking time to recharge. Taking continuous breaks from scheduled work during the year, whether I am in need of respite or the children need time to 'just be' for a while, has been crucial for our homeschooling journey. The days when an overwhelmed mama, in the improper frame of mind, is not able to muster much patience to deal with her intense children's constant demands or the days when my intense children, worn out from exerting their energy in their tasks (because they do not do things by halves) are the days we unashamedly hole up and recuperate. A post about such days can be read here. Re fuelled, we are better equipped to keep our motivation high, whatever come our way.