When I first began homeschooling, I made a plan for the entire year and we stuck to it. No. Matter. What. If I was sick, we did an entire day of school, when the kids didn’t feel good, they did double the work to “catch up” when they felt better again. Nothing was going to stand in the way of my homeschool schedule, not sickness or life…nothing. We had textbooks that needed to be completed, experiments that had to be documented, art projects to finish and we were not going to end the year without having everything done. There were no days when I allowed us to simply put the books away.
The first few years of homeschooling were not a lot of fun for my kids or I. I was excited to get started after I finished planning, but the excitement wore off way too quickly and I got lost in the push to just get everything done. My kids didn’t enjoy learning and I didn’t enjoy teaching.
I needed to put the books away, but I couldn’t. I was afraid that if I did that people would say that I had failed. That I would be admitting that this homeschooling thing wasn’t for me. I was afraid that I was wrong and that I couldn’t give my children a better education than someone else. That it didn’t matter that I knew my kids better. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be preparing my children for their future properly. That my kids would fall behind and wouldn’t get caught up. I was afraid of being a failure.
It took almost 6 years of homeschooling before I was able to put the books away. I didn’t push as hard the last 2 years as I did the first 4, but we still stuck to a strict schedule and made up all of the lessons we missed for one reason or another. I was determined to give my kids the best education possible and I believed that meant we had to finish everything I had planned at the beginning of the year, no matter where life took us throughout the year.
When I look back at all the time I wasted and how much fun I took away from my children’s learning, I am saddened, but I am also more determined to ensure that the rest of our homeschooling journey is fun and educational!
This is our first year following a child led homeschooling method and there have been countless times that we have put our books away. There are days when frustrations run high, patience runs low and passion for learning just isn’t anywhere to be found. These are the signs that I am learning to recognize so that I know we need to put our books away. I’m not always successful, this over the top planner homeschool mom still struggles with the pressure of keeping up with our plans, ensuring my kids are educated properly and staying on track with their education.
Grace. I’m still struggling to give myself grace. Yet, each time that I recognize the signs and make the choice to put the books away, I am accepting grace. Grace to choose the best for my children in that moment. Grace for moments when I need a break from teaching. Grace allows my children and I to grow in the moments when textbooks and lesson plans aren’t enough. Grace.
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Putting the books away is just one step on my homeschooling journey. A step that has changed our homeschool year and each homeschool day within that year. I encourage you to learn to recognize the days when learning isn’t happening. Whether it be frustration over a new concept, sickness, sleepless nights, work schedules, or anything that causes your homeschooling to not go as you had planned. When these moments come your way, stop. Put the books away. Love on your kids, snuggle and watch a movie or read a book, bake or cook together in the kitchen, find someway to spend time together with your little blessings enjoying each other and having fun.
Putting the books away is an act of accepting grace. For yourself. For your kids. For your homeschool.
How do you know when it is time for you to put the books away?