Posted by : Karen Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In a recent article that flew around our homeschool community in the Western Cape, I was really challenged to take a deep long look at the blind spots that I have experienced this year. I'm only a rookie, this is my first year in homeschooling my first grade son. (My other two children attend wonderful playgroups/nursery schools, and you can read about my reasons for that here.)

co-op at Silvermine Dam

  1. I think there are two that vie for first position, my biggest blind spots this year. The first would have to be socialisation. I'd read all the arguments against schools and the way in which children are socialised there; and I'd heard all the staunch arguments by homeschoolers of the advantages of being 'socialised' with their immediate family and the different age groups homeschoolers are exposed to. Looking back now, I see that I began this year so on board with the anti-school sentiments sometimes portrayed by homeschoolers that I just assumed King Arthur's need for socialisation would be met by me and having his siblings around for the afternoon, and doing co-op.

    I have come to realise that my children, all three of them are primarily social creatures. They love having friends around, and yet are equally able to play well with each other for hours, or withdraw to their rooms to play independently quite happily). (OK, true for two of the three!).

    However, as this year has progressed, a discrepancy has arisen. My youngest are all played out by the time they get home, having had a wonderful morning of fun and friendship. They're ready for time with me. But King Arthur, after soaking me up all morning, is now ready for some fun and friendship, and I have not paid close enough attention to that until now. I have not met that need of his. It is only now, as God shines his light on it, that I see that I am in effect homeschooling an only child. And that King Arthur's desire for social interaction can not be fully met by our family. My growing boy needs more regular interactions with friends. Looking critically at his week, interacting once or twice a week with friends is not enough for him. And as a homeschooling mother, it becomes my responsibility to actively create ways for him to do this, whether it's as simple as having an afternoon friends can come play, or starting a outdoor enjoyment/nature club, or looking at getting him involved in sport. This is a blind spot I am so thankful God has overturned. (Didn't you love going home with friends from school? That's something I miss, impromptu play dates...)

    learning how to chop veggies
    to make soup at co-op

  2. Here's the next biggie – in this age of information, it is so easy for me to assume that knowledge is paramount. But, there is such a distinct difference between knowledge and wisdom. I was so emotional with the recent passing of Steve Jobs (ahem, I have little logical explanation for it)... I think what I so loved about him was that as a college drop out, he still managed to become one of the leading figures of today's digital age, indeed he revolutionised the way we live what with the iPhone, iMac, iPad, iTunes etc. I have got lost in the academia of 'education' this year and I see this as a potential trap I can readily fall into each year. It's not about the knowledge that I can readily impart, even if my gifting is for that and it comes naturally to me. There is so much more to education than the amassing of knowledge! Again, the light God has shone on this area recently makes me see that what’s important is teaching my kids what to do with that knowledge, and that is what can give my children the extra edge in today's world. Wisdom (that comes from God), insight, and the ability to think critically is so much more important than diligently ploughing through the curriculum.

    school anytime...anywhere!

  3. Curriculums/Homeschoooling becoming my god. It's true, this year, for the first 6 months, I lived, breathed, ate, slept, curriculums, homeschooling etc. Homeschooling wasn't a way of life, it was an obsession. A god. I don't want to be defined by homeschooling, I am so much more – I'd like to be defined by my relationship with God, then by the wife I am, then by the mother I am...not by the way in which I homeschool. Now look, there is nothing wrong with any of the looking, reading, researching etc, especially if this is your first year, or you are looking into this as an option, but at some point, in this age of information saturation, you have to draw the line, make a decision, and move on – start walking the talk not just talking the walk! Start doing the things you've bookmarked in your craft folder, or pinned on Pinterest, and when that folder is empty, then look for more! Perhaps this is a natural progression- only veteran mothers of homeschooling can tell me if this is what it's like and if after you find your feet these days of obsession fall away?! Having God impress on me the importance of investing my time has also helped. I've streamlined my use of screen time, chosen days where I don't switch it on no matter what, and it's really helped.

    Proud Aragorn with his crafted wilding stick
    from co-op

  4. My personality leads me to like order and structure, nothing I'm ashamed of. I like how organised and neat my life is, and I'm very comfortable with the boundaries I have in place. However, because of that, I have fallen into this mode of being stressed out that I cannot fit into my week what the schedule says I must! And as a result, I have become a slave to my schedule in our chosen curriculum. Perhaps because it's because I like to tick ALL the boxes...thankfully I've outgrown (ahem, am outgrowing it, present tense!) that during the course of the year and I can now scan what needs to be achieved in the week, pick out the parts I think need our attention and proceed. But, if you know me, you know what a challenge this is! I am continually growing in making the schedule serve me, rather than being it's slave. I might need to be reminded of this as we move into the last part of this year!

    Belle on a recent date of ours...

  5. Fabulous Fun – I'm not sure why you chose to homeschool, or what your memories of junior school were like. I do know that I loved my early grades: I can recall wonderful teachers, fun swimming times, searching for stink bugs, huge playing fields and wonderful break times, cake sales – in fact the things that stand out for me were largely fun, or people orientated. I remember being taught how to make a skyline meet the grass when I painted, I remember readers, and handwriting patterns, and being the leader/helper for the day. All good things. In asking God to show me my blind spots, I can see that I have a tendency to focus too much on the “seriousness of school”, and forget that actually at the end of the day, my children are so young and there is SO much life ahead of them, I can afford to lighten up a bit. It's time to allow FUN!
    And somehow remembering all of this, makes me see so clearly, that this road, this journey of parenting (whether you homeschool or not) really is about having the hearts of my children. And the only way I can keep their hearts is to keep turning into God and asking him to light my path and to show me where to put my feet.

    May your path be well lit friend,

    May His Grace show you where to boldly step...

5 Responses so far.

  1. Thank you for sharing, the first year is always the hardest. After 4 years of homeschooling I have to revisit the very things you mentioned all the time.

  2. Jenni C's says:

    Karen, this is a this up somewhere, and read it often and then you will keep on track, you are fortunate to have "seen" these things in your first year, many of us ...have maybe not wanted to see these things..but ultimately..we come to is a journey, institution that we are creating..well written post!

  3. Lizelle says:

    Thanks, Karen. As a mom that still needs to start this journey, it's so insightful to see what other moms found to be pitfalls. Homeschooling seems to just as much a learn curve for moms as it is for the kids. Best wishes on your journey still ahead.

  4. Karen says:

    @ Jenni - thanks for the encouragement - I like blogging because in a form it's like journalling - great to be able to turn back and see what you thought. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be needing to read and re-read this often!
    @Mel - thanks for the encouragement!
    @Lizelle - you've hit the nail on the head -beyond a shadow of a doubt, i think the learning curve is just as much for us as it is for them!

  5. Elize vd Merwe says:

    We started October, but in truth have only managed to do some "serious" schoolwork on the odd days. Life intervened, and to my amazement, the boys learned a lot more from those incidences than just ordinary school things.

    My boys are also social creatures who love to be around friends a lot. At this stage I am changing the focus from "serious" school (learning letters, writing, etc.) to learning through play (with friends where possible). They are only 5 and 2.7 now, and they are bright. This is very difficult for me, because I tend to love being on my own, away from people.

    But mommy has learned so much more. I am always being pushed to my knees, asking God to please help, show me the way. I have learned to think for myself, and not just follow the crowd. I have learned to listen - to myself, hubby, the boys, but most of all to the quiet conviction that comes from God. I still doubt some things, but I don't doubt that HS is the road we have to take, and I don't doubt that God will be there every step of the way.

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