Like parenting in general, it helps me when I think about homeschooling in terms of seasons. Each season has its own unique joys, its own unique challenges, and each is discernibly different from the one before.
HOMESCHOOLING BEGAN LIKE SPRING
Was it that way for you? (It’s not that way for everyone, so don’t feel bad if that wasn’t your experience.)
But in our home, homeschooling started out with delight…it was like spring here in the Pacific Northwest: new growth and color everywhere. There was no end to the fun of discovering new things through the eyes of my eager young learner. We’d cuddle up during the younger kids’ nap times, or during the toddler’s snacks or “blanket time”, and whisk ourselves away to biblical stories, ancient lands, and forgotten times.
Every day, or certainly every week, there were delightful things I’d notice and remark about to Doug:
- “Wow, I used to hate history, but now I find it so fascinating. I wonder if it’s because of how it was taught?”
- “This is incredible… his curiosity and thirst for learning is insatiable!”
- “I can’t believe how much we can get done in so short a time!”
That season didn’t last forever, but WOW! It was delightful while it lasted.
WITH EACH NEW SEASON COMES A NEW RHYTHM
Now, I’m not taking the literal “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter” seasons analogy any farther, but the truth is that each length of time we spend homeschooling is like learning a new season, with a new rhythm. Some come back again and again, some are more tiring, some have too much to do, and some feel more laid back.
A little more than a year ago, I entered a heavy-duty “work” season, where I was (for the first time) homeschooling four children. Much less like the frolicking fun of the “spring” I described above, this was much more like the way a farmer puts his nose down and plows out the rows. Because he knows there is much to do, there’s not near as much time to dilly-dally and look at flowers, even if they do happen to be beautiful. Sometimes homeschooling is that way. So many things have to get done, and there’s a limit to the amount of time and energy we have to do it. So we work through it as efficiently as we can, and just “get ‘er done.”
We’ve just ended a season where we’ve, basically, “survived.” What that looked like for us was reading aloud (mostly, the kids to me, to make sure I was rightly gauging their reading progress and pronunciation), some math, and a whole lot of life skills (talking through home selling, mortgages, home buying, what a job search looks like, etc.).
And we have stepped into a season that’s more of a blend. We have some day-in, day-out “plowing,” but then I’m also reading aloud more, and playing in the floor more. We’re stopping to admire the joys (like reading “Come On, Seabiscuit” aloud with my 9-year-old, and talking through historic things like radio announcers, horse races, and life before TV/Internet), but everyone is also doing their math worksheets, Bible study, and age-/skill-specific learning, nonetheless. A little plowing, a little flower-admiring.
My point is NOT to try to make some one-size-fits-all list of all the seasons you’ll go through, but to give you encouragement and permission. I especially want to give encouragement to young homeschooling moms:
- Homeschool in a way that you are doing what you need to do to follow the laws of your state/country.
- Give yourself freedom (without guilt or self-loathing) to let one year/semester/season, be different from previous ones.
Pregnancies come and go. Toddlers come and go. Job changes, family illness, and other life challenges come along. Life brings a battery of challenges our way, and I try to roll with them and flex. By doing so, our life has a lot more freedom & joy, and our homeschool journey is able to keep rolling along while changing with the seasons.
Let me encourage you, if you are stressed out trying to follow a certain friend’s “model” or even trying to follow a model or plan that used to work for you but for some reason, just *doesn’t* right now, perhaps it could help you to learn to roll with the seasons of homeschooling.