We are in week two of officially homeschooling our oldest as a first grader. It has been….so many things. SO. MANY. THINGS.
On one hand, it is a ton of work. More than even last year’s test run with the final months of kindergarten could have prepared me for. This isn’t a test run, it’s the real deal and boy am I feeling the difference between “Hey let’s just see how it goes!” and “Ok we are doing this, people!”
It’s been difficult to juggle two toddlers who can’t occupy themselves while also being the sole educator of their big brother. I’ve found that I can’t just throw some toys on the floor for them and then expect them to keep themselves busy while I work with Theo. I have to think through their day too, and get them situated first before I can even think to start with Theo’s tasks for the day.
That feels a little daunting and a little bit like trying to keep puppies occupied in a meaningful and quiet way, but I also feel like that is something that will get easier with time. We are all new to this, so grace all around.
My mom bought the kids some fun but educational toys that have been extremely helpful, as poor Oliver is desperate to “go to school” like his big brother. Most mornings, I will get him set up with his own “school work” that helps keep him busy but also gives him the chance to learn at his own level. And then Bea, bless her, is a busy little bee (how did that happen???), but she is also completely content to sit in her high chair for 20 minutes with crayons and paper, so I don’t feel like I have anything to complain about there. 😉
The kids’ favorite fun but educational toys so far are these reusable water color books, this awesome doll house with real KEYS to lock and unlock (well played, Melissa & Doug, well played), several packs of these creepy crawlers which are fun for play or great to use as math manipulatives, these fun suction cup builders that are perfect for sensory stimulation, and last but not least (and Miss Bea’s favorite), these adorable Calico Critters, just for fun. 😉
I’ve found that I’m spending a lot of time planning, brain storming, and going back to the drawing board each night. True, we are only two weeks in, but this whole thing requires a ton of thinking! That is due largely in part to the fact that we are unschooling – which means we aren’t following a curriculum or strict schedule. But the beauty of this method (and all that THINKING) is that I’m really freed to create an educational experience for all of us that is tailored to who we are as individuals and as a family.
I do believe that some of this planning and brainstorming will get easier and quicker in the long run. It’s like any skill, the more you use it, the better your reflex becomes. So all in all it feels like a lot now but I’m hopeful that – even though the work will remain – I’ll get more efficient and confident in time.
I guess the thing that has surprised me the most so far, though, has been how much I’m enjoying this whole thing. No, this isn’t something I ever thought I’d be doing. No, this isn’t something I ever even wanted. And no, this is not something I feel comfortable/confident to do.
I feel this is a classic example of not knowing what I needed. This just feels right. It feels like us. And – though I can’t believe I’m about to say this – it feels like me.
I can look back over the past few years and see all the (hard) work God has put into refining my heart and mind to get me to this place. What place, exactly?
Gosh, I don’t even know I can put it into words. But I’ll try.
A place where I’m starting to see who I am apart from what I DO, or what is happening AROUND me.
A place where I understand that life is long and comes in seasons to be embraced, cherished, and relished.
A place where I’m starting to see my role as mother/educator in a whole new light.
A place where I can let go of preconceived notions about myself and my life that aren’t true or no longer serve me in this season.
A place where I am able to make a big deal out of the few things that matter greatly, and relinquish the many things that simply don’t matter AT ALL.
A place informed by who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing on this earth.
A place that cares less and less about what others say I “should” be doing or caring about.
A place that understands there is so much more to learn and so much more growing to do.
A place that understands that wisdom starts with admitting that there is more to learn.
A place that cherishes home and family and life.
A place that, yes, can feel small sometimes, but has shown me that it’s only small minded people who get trapped by small situations.
A place where I can start to lay down my need to be right or smart or fashionable and simply, wonderfully, just be myself.
A place that understands that even if I wasn’t homeschooling, teaching and educating my children is my number one priority as a momma. A place that understands that every fight, every frustration, every fear is an opportunity to seek and learn and understand something bigger. A place that understands that I am here not to demand and dictate, but nudge and model and pour into.
That’s where I am at. That is where we are at. I’m not saying I have it all together. I’m not saying homeschooling is amazing and everyone should do it. I’m just saying, hey – this is where we are at.
And it’s a good place to be.