When I started homeschooling, I had a vision in my mind. I'd read so many different blogs, and they had fully prepared me, I knew, for what was to come. I would rise early, no longer dreading each morning, and get up before the kids, have a shower, perhaps lay out some activities, perhaps a few interesting pieces of wood, leaves, and a pine cone arranged in a basket to pique their curiosity, and fire up their imaginations.They would get up to the sight of me smiling, with my hands wrapped around a coffee, wearing my soft dressing gown, welcoming them to the table for breakfast.
We would sit around that same table, talking and laughing about the day before, excitedly planning the day ahead. Then each and every person would dress themselves, because they have the time! No more hastily tugging at pajama buttons, no more wrenching of hated uniform t-shirts over heads... no no, my children would carefully choose clothes that they loved, assembling outfits that expressed their individuality and cute quirks, yet reflected an innate sense of style and aesthetics...
Etcetera etcetera. Well as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men... something something... never work out. I think that's how it goes.
Umpteen times already, in the last two months, I have decided to admit defeat, own up to my terrible mistake, and made plans to enrol the children in the closest school asap. Just last week I actually emailed the principal of our new local primary school to let him know we were interested in enrolling our kids and could we come and have a look? And yet, here we are, still sitting around in our pjs, doing nothing of the sort.
So what do we do instead of school? Not much, to tell the truth. I'm often embarrassed when people ask me what we do, because it really feels like nothing. Certainly compared to the infinite tales online about raising livestock, learning scientific facts through amazing experiments and hands-on experience, children who can count to a million and play musical instruments and contribute to their community... well nothing! And yet I know it is important to look back, to reflect and take stock, and see that slowly, quietly, something is unfolding.
Nothing to write home about.
Nothing mind-blowingly inspiring.
Just little tiny steps... the pitter patter of potential as it were...
Like my 5 yr old seeming to know how to write letters, out of nowhere. He has longer periods of concentration(very remarkable for an ADHD/ASD diagnosis) at the table, whether it be an activity book or intricate drawing. He's so careful. So focused. He keeps on trying new things. He plays computer games - and he plays them WELL; what seems like 'mindless' repetition of a difficult level, upon reflection, turns out to be careful practice and perfection - a dogged determination to learn this new trick, to not give up. He's not afraid to fail as much any more. He doesn't get as impatient or angry with himself... still sometimes, yes, his frustration bubbles over, but oh boy is he trying!
He puts his on shoes on, he makes his own breakfast(with some help when the milk bottle is full), he makes up his own games and draws new, bizarre creatures. He is more accepting of real life; of the fact that you can only take one toy with you when you go out, and not only that, but it should be a toy of a certain size, not too small that it could be misplaced or too big that it might become difficult to carry. He accepts that we play computer games after lunch, never before, and that we take breaks when we're asked to, and that when we're told our time's up, it's really going to be OK.
Could he have achieved some of this at school? Probably! But at home, we have the time(endless infinite hours it can feel like) to do this at his pace, without fear, with as little stress as possible. At home you can learn something new, or 2 things new, and then you can decide your brain is full and you can go and jump on the trampoline until your cheeks are flushed red and your fingers are stained black and your mind feels clear again.
And if you're suddenly overwhelmed with emotion or exhaustion or excitement, you can tell someone, and you can work out how to make it better. Both the kids at times will say they 'just need to be alone', and they'll wander off and have some quiet time. For my big girl, she's got a favourite tree stump that she calls her thinking spot, and she plods off like Pooh Bear to think about ... who knows? I don't! Sometimes I wish I did but mostly I'm just glad that she knows when to take a little time out, and be in her own company.
Other things my 7 yr old is doing? Asking to do pages in her exercise book. Trying things that are hard, even things classed as Too Hard... she tries them anyway, because, like her brother, she's not afraid of failing as much as she used to be.
We don't fail here.
We don't do much, it is true. But we learn in little, quiet steps, sometimes so light that they don't make a sound. And we think we're going nowhere, until we look back through the trees and see the path along which we have come.
And I've written this to remind myself more than anyone else, that this is a journey. And we are gently ambling along. Later we might run, but at the moment, slow as it may seem, we ARE learning. We ARE growing. We ARE changing.
And that's quite a lot, wouldn't you say?