Apart from the relaxed atmosphere, unkempt house, hoards of bookmarks and overly opinionated free-thinking kids, this homeschool gig just keeps on giving.
For instance, our family has obtained open lines of communication and trust. And I personally accrued eye wrinkles and three staplers.
Mistakenly, I thought the kids were supposed to do all of the learning, and I was supposed to tear out the perforated worksheets, read the bold italics print warmly to the students, and fend off the socialization questions from nosy strangers and butt-faced relatives. Turns out, I have also accumulated a few trinkets of homeschool wisdom along the way. Such as,
…and I am sorry to say, homeschool moms form cliques too.
I know, right? It shocked the eager-to-make-new-friends out of me too. Because, though we all hold fast to the common thread of defiance against institutionalized learning, the similarities stop there. With all the different reasons and ways to homeschool, we are probably more equipped to discriminate against one another than our public school counterparts.
Most unschoolers hang with like-minded unschoolers, which is practically a different genus and species from the more traditional school-minded mom who installed a school bell/intercom system and a homework deposit box on her bedroom door the day after she decided to homeschool. And then there are co-op moms who take up arms against each other over statements of faith, and food allergy accommodations.
Basically we are all just women. We judge and sort each other, stare down the new mom. Scope her out, find out what is wrong with her kids. Then invent something wrong with her kids. Like or hate her based on her reason for homeschooling and her choice in math curriculum.
In addition to this bit of wisdom, I also like to ponder deeply upon issues facing homeschool moms, usually during those awkward moments where I sit quietly trying not to breathe too loud, lest I cause a long division problem to veer off its course to the right answer and set off a domino of tantrum throwing, up-and-coming mathematicians.
I would like to share these tidbits with you now…
- I have all but scientifically proven that a child will not sharpen their pencil until such time as it will cause the loudest most annoying and interfering ruckus, guaranteeing a sibling will be shot into orbit or will break his/her own pencil in half and slip into insanity.
- Get a real dictionary for your classroom, not the ones from the $1 bins. Apparently the 10,000 words they left out did not qualify for the discount.
- The sweet moms who get along with everyone do exist. Yeah, no, I am not one of them. But if you find your kind of homeschool mom-pal, I hope you realize it fast enough to keep from sticking your foot in your mouth and commenting on how many kids are following her around. And I hope that you become good friends in the trenches.
- Curriculum shopping is way underrated! Flipping through all the possibilities is intoxicating. Reading the reviews, comparing the samples. Ahhh! Seriously, I get giddy just waiting for a box of books to arrive. Rainbow Resource does not offer tracking, which makes me slightly unhinged with anticipation, but inevitably adds to the excitement.
- Co-op is all at once fun and a waste of time. In a moment of weakness we joined a co-op. You either love it, hate it, or put up with it. You won’t understand this until you have been there thinking to yourself, “This is alright, but what more productive thing could we be doing now?”
- Real money is better than the math manipulatives. Teach them to identify it, count it, make change with it. Then bribe them to finish their work with it.
- No one agrees with how you are homeschooling. Not completely anyway. Even my own mother, who supports me whole heartedly, likes to make suggestions and poke fun at my control issues. Be the bold captain of your own ship. Other ships (or canoes) take different routes and you do not have to follow. Maybe allow for the crew to speak their peace, but try not to throw grandma and the kids overboard.
- There are plenty of things to argue with your husband about other than money. More on that here: He Said She Said. A Homeschool Marriage.
- Just because they offer a class somewhere, doesn’t mean you cannot teach it better. I am that mom at co-op smiling and helping out and all the while thinking, I could make this so much more interesting, wishing we had never signed up for this class.
- A trip to the mailbox can save your soul between math lessons and grammar. The mailbox is one of my favorite hangouts.
- Waiting is one of my greatest skills. Most of mothering is hurrying up to wait. Hurry, we have to get to practice. Wait in the bleachers. Hurry, the music teacher is here. Wait for lesson to finish. Hurry and eat your food! Wait an eternity for one pea to go down.
- There are homeschoolers who never seem to be at home? They are in every club in the county, three different co-ops, six sports, church groups, the peace corps, and take a vacation every thirty minutes. Just open a Where’s Waldo book and you are guaranteed to find them on every page.
- Just go to the movies. CPS is not camped out behind the neighbor’s begonias. If public schools can take all day field trips to six flags and call it educational, you can go see the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid and call it journalism.
- There is no trophy or plaque for being the best homeschool mom. But I pretend there is and try to earn it anyway. I just know I have to be in the top 10?! Working on an acceptance speech is probably too much though.
- Never try to talk anyone into homeschooling. Its like urging a friend to marry someone that you do not even know. You do not have to live with them, so stay out of it. Likewise, never argue with someone adamantly against homeschooling. Both could end in hurt feelings. Or homicide.
And finally, remember, no matter how difficult the subject,
grade level, age, or school year,
this too shall pass.
And then there is calculus.