Hana has just turned five and we celebrated with a Moana inspired party (featured in the post) Naturally as homeschoolers, we were not bombarded by 20-30 potential invites from a classroom to deal with and this milestone made me realize just how long we have been homeschooling now.
We are still very much in rookie mode where homeschooling is concerned. I would not consider us pro’s or experts in any shape or form but I would say that over the last seven months we have managed to settle into a good rhythm and our schooling is flowing a lot more naturally.
There has been a lot of anxiety and self doubt throughout this process, but as I sit back and really reflect on the last seven months, I am pleasantly surprised by the things I have learnt about myself over this period.
1. I am a great teacher:
Dont laugh! one of the biggest concerns that both Mike and I had around homeschooling was my capability in the actual teaching department. Not because I lacked aptitude but rather patience and even creativity. While we have hired a full time teacher, I manage the curriculum and create the frameworks and approaches that will work, especially with Hamza is does not learn in a conventional way. I manage the sport and extra mural activities and have my ear to the ground in the homeschool community. In mainstream school I was the slacker mom, disinterested in PTA meetings and bake sales and had a bit of a ‘their job, their problem’ attitude when it came to schooling. These days I am as hands-on and knee-deep as it gets and we are thriving!
My biggest challenge but also my biggest passion is figuring out and keeping abreast of how my kids learn and what makes them tick.
2. It takes a village and the village is awesome:
We have chosen a slightly unconventional route for our kids in that we have hired a full-time teacher/ au pair to do the daily teaching. Anieka and I work very closely in researching and formulating the ‘curriculum’ we follow and we lean on support groups, other schools and other teachers for extramural activities.
When I first started researching the homeschool space I was had concern over the type of people or kids who homeschool. My preconceived ideas were that this space was reserved for the ultra-religious or ultra liberal or learning impaired.. I was worried we wouldn’t fit in.. I have since discovered that the HS space is very warm and welcoming and despite our different reasons for homeschooling, we are bound together by the common thread of knowing that educating at home is what works best for our kids.
3. I have power and influence over who my kids become
This may sound a little control freakish at first, but let be honest, we procreate to produce little people who we can mold and build strong foundations for first, who then self-actualize into their own little personalities. I spent so much of my parent years feeling like the power to mold and build had been stripped from me and was in the hands of the school or peers. It feels good to reclaim that space.
4. Happiness is more important than prestige and money
What started with a traumatic school event while I was in the thick of running my media agency, ended with us being catapulted into homeschool and me spending less and less time focusing on that business until I basically shut it down. Don’t get me wrong, I am an entrepreneur and have five business balls in the air at any given time, but my media agency was draining a lot of energy and time but also brought in the bulk of my income…and this was impacting family time. I don’t think I saw a lot of the warning signs I should have seen when Hamza first started struggling at school. I was so focused on the business and where I needed to be.
Setting up the homeschool the way we wanted it and moving away from agency life have both been costly affairs for us, but the happiness and peace of mind has been priceless
5. Learning happens constantly and you need to be ready for it
When your kids are in school, there tends to be a divide between learning time and chill time. Monday to Friday is about uploading knowledge and then weekends are for unwinding and family time. As a mainstream schooling parent, I would often dismiss certain questions that were too ‘schooly’ over the weekend and leave it up tp the teachers to answer in the week. These days, I take each question and pinch of interest in all subjects as an opportunity for learning and I feel like our connection as a family is stronger for it.
6. Being different is okay!
The anxiety you feel when stepping away from the norm, especially when you are holding another life in your hands is insane! I was torn between my gut feel that this was the right move to make and my logical brain screaming at me that I was making a huge mistake. I have since realized that all that anxiety was about daring to step into a space less traveled and also having the buck actually stop with me. If I fucked this up, I would not have a school or teacher to blame, it would be on me.
The thing is, I have always taken the road less traveled and the entrepreneur in me has always innovated as I went along. This was no different and so I treated homeschool like I would treat any startup and we were on our way.
7. I actually enjoy teaching kids as a whole!
Since homeschooling, I have found myself enjoying kids and facilitating their learning so much more too. I started teaching a kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class which is flourishng and we have added a kids art class which we have opened up to the homeschool space too.