It is a new year, folks, a time of reflection and hope. I know with certainty that 2014 will stand out in my mind years from now. After all, it was my first year as a homeschooler– a sudden and unexpected path for our family. No other year in recent memory has been this filled with change, learning, growth, new beginnings, and new connections.
The other day, as my croupy crew watched Frozen for the eight gazillionth time, I did a little reflecting. I went back and read my first My Little Poppies posts. Folks, I totally got sucked in by those early posts! On the one hand, I feel like it all just happened, but on the other, so much has changed. As I was reading, I realized that I was witnessing my own transformation. It was an evolution of sorts: the evolution of a first year homeschooler.
First, there was the post where I explained how we found ourselves suddenly and unexpectedly homeschooling: Suddenly, Unexpectedly Homeschooling (“You’re gonna WHAT?!”)
Folks, there was a lot of justifying in that post. It was as if I was fearing a backlash of parental judgment from cyberland, even if it was chock-full of helpful links on giftedness and twice exceptional learners.
Then, there was the post in which I admitted I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with regard to homeschooling: Plan? What Plan?
I feel like that post was pretty spot-on. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, and I do second-guess myself. That said, I have yet to have a day when I wished that Leo could go to school. Honestly. I have moments when I need a break from Leo, but the thought of him actually in the school makes me cringe.
That brings me to the next post in this first year homeschooler’s evolution: Homeschooling Freedom. Man, I just love this post. Whenever I find myself second-guessing, I think of this post. All I need to do is imagine Leo where the public school wanted to place him: a typical first grade classroom, and my anxiety level is instantly reduced. Even if I’m flying by the seat of my pants much of the time, Leo is free to be himself here and he is free to learn joyfully. That in itself is huge.
But we all know that homeschooling isn’t all sunshine and roses. We have a ton of PG, 2E, and full of OE moments over here. They happen multiple times daily. Leo has never been an easy kid to parent, so of course this would carry over into our homeschooling. When I started this silly little blog, I promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I Promised the Ugly! described one of our ugly bumps-in-the-homeschooling -road. It can be extremely challenging for an independent, self-directed, little autodidact to admit that he needs help with a particular concept and to accept that help graciously. We’re working on it, folks!
One of the most wonderful surprises of homeschooling has been its impact on our entire family. Our youngest two children, T and Seuss, attend preschool during the week. I am not technically homeschooling them at this point in time; however, Schizz and I have been witnessing some amazing events around here, as I described in A Homeschooling Reflection- We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!
As the school year progressed, I did second-guess myself and wonder if we were doing it right, and if we were doing enough. I discussed these feelings in Homeschool Second-Guessing.
My feelings about homeschooling have ebbed and flowed throughout this first year. One day I will feel like I’m totally rocking this homeschooling gig, and the next I’m riddled with doubt and feeling frustrated. No matter what I’m feeling, I keep coming back to one thing: everything is so much better this year than it was last year. What a Difference a Year Makes!
Over time, I’ve been able to break away from my idea of what school “should” look like and realize that learning happens all the time if you just relax and let it. A perfect example of this can be found in my post Our Homeschool Day- Joyful Learning.
The last six weeks have been a time of relaxing into homeschooling. We have, at least for the moment, found a sort of homeschool rhythm. I discussed this in a post that you guys loved called Relaxing into a Homeschool Rhythm.
And it does, truly, feel lighter around here lately. In Feeling Lighter, I talk about this experience and trace these new feelings back to our decision to homeschool. You guys really liked this post, too.
Folks, when I look back on the past year, I can’t help but smile. I’m honestly looking forward to 2015. It’s been a wild and unexpected ride so far but it’s one that I would do all over again in a heartbeat!
I’d love to hear from the homeschoolers out there. What was your first year like? Would you do it all again? Do you have a favorite book on homeschooling? I have several listed here, but I love love love anything by Holt, including How Children Learn:
Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child’s natural bent.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram