by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
No, we actually make mistakes every single day on our journey, but there are three I would like to highlight today. As I have mentioned before, homeschooling was not on our radar, therefore, we have had many hit and miss moments. More misses I should say. However, the more I give thought to homeschooling in general, it can be a strange unexpected crazy ride. I am certain most of us would LOVE a homeschool restart button, right?!
As the years go on, we have learned from our mistakes, but the funny thing is, we still make many mistakes each year!
Here are three of my favorite:
- I began homeschooling when Jaden was in kindergarten and Gabrielle (Gabi) was in Pre-K. I took homeschooling seriously and literally. First, we never left the house. I mean, it was “home” school, right, so we stayed home all day doing school work. Second, I was a strict, no-nonsense teacher! Someone gave us a cute two-seat school desk. I sat Jaden and Gabi in front of me, with my white board, and each day we had our lessons. I wish I had a picture of their faces back then as I taught. Within a one-week span I was their mommy playing games with them all day, and the next week I was their overbearing teacher spewing out intense lectures on the A,B,C’s!
Yes, I was completely out of my mind. Thankfully for Jaden and Gabi’s sake I had a nice teacher friend who intervened. She very politely told me to get my head out of the classroom and into the real world of learning. She helped me realize that learning was more than sitting in front of a teacher all day. (She was not slamming traditional schools) But she helped me expand my mind in terms of learning. I truly had no idea that learning could be so freeing and enjoyable. From that moment on, I totally changed the way we did school. We spent only two hours a day doing actual work from books, and then each day we went somewhere educational such as the library, museums, or park.
(*Side note: Our two-hour school days were only while the kids were in kindergarten and first grade. By the time they were in second grade our school days at home expanded)
- As we continued through our homeschool journey, we learned a lot, but we continued to make mistakes. As the children got older we decided to join a co-op. Joining the co-op was not the mistake. The mistake happened when we failed to utilize the free training the co-op offered. We figured we could learn as we go which turned into a giant mistake. That school year went okay, but it could have gone even better if we had properly prepared and took advantage of the free training. We did not return to the co-op the next year. We felt we could do a better job homeschooling on our own. We actually blamed the co-op for our mediocre school year, when it fact, it was completely our fault. I know co-ops are not for everyone, but for us, having the structure of the co-op was PERFECT for our family. The year we did not go back we realized how much we actually needed it. The following year we decided to go back. Only this time we did the free training. The results were like night and day! Our children had a great school year because as home educators, we were better prepared.
- Finally, speaking of structure. It is amazing how putting words down on paper can truly enhance success. Having thoughts in your head is great but putting those thoughts down as a goal each day can bring out amazing results. I have read countless leadership books about “writing” out daily goals. Highly successful people find that writing their schedule or having daily goals is a major component to their success. Every time you check something off from your daily list it’s like a celebration for a small accomplishment. We went years without a schedule and then wondered why we could not get everything done. Once we implemented a daily schedule it was a great feeling for everyone to accomplish our daily goals.
Now, I would like to stop here and say, checking a list each day IS NOT THE GOAL. We spend considerable amounts of time re-teaching or re-explaining lessons to our children. Checking something off our list is not our focus, however, when we’ve spent a large amount of time teaching a lesson or re-explaining a lesson and we still get everything done – that’s when it’s time to celebrate! Having a daily schedule is vital. It’s like your personal accountability to you and your children.
And a bonus!
One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made on this journey is doing any and everything simply because we had friends doing it. We have joined classes, attended events or bought curriculum simply because our friends did it. BIG MISTAKE!
Yes, you want your children to enjoy this journey with their friends. But just like your own children learn differently than their siblings, so do your children and their friends.
There are seven different learning styles: visual, logical, aural, physical, verbal, social, solitary.
That’s the beauty of homeschooling there is freedom and flexibility to teach our children in the best possible way to meet their needs. Simply doing whatever our friends are doing can often do more harm than good. You can always schedule social events to keep your children connected with their friends. When our children were younger I hosted many events at our home on late Friday afternoons, such as cookie decorating, outreach projects (packing shoe boxes for the military), craft parties, holiday lunches, and park days. These ideas may or not work for you, but hopefully you can consider them before putting your children in classes or events not suitable for them, just because their friends are doing it. I would even argue that if you have multiple children, teaching them in the same manner (if they have different learning styles) is also a mistake.
Here’s the good news!
We all make mistakes, but God is good. No matter how many mistakes we make, God can help us get back on track.
I read an article one day about scientist who create the medicines that heal our bodies. They make tons of mistakes! The article talked about why making mistakes is a good thing. If these scientists never made mistakes then they could not perfect the medicines we put in our bodies each day.
It’s okay to make mistakes on this homeschooling journey. Just do your best to learn, laugh – and enjoy the ride!
Isaiah 26:12 “LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba