Monday, September 17, 2012

How is that homeschooling thing going?

Everywhere I go this is the question I am asked lately. It's probably the most logical question one could ask at a time when I am starting my first year ever of homeschooling. This is a question I should expect to be asked and have an answer prepared. And yet, I've got nothing!

How is it going? I haven't a clue!

Let's preface this conversation with a little background information about myself. I like to be knowledgeable about what I am doing. Reading and research dominates my free time on a wide range of subjects from nutrition/health, religion, history, finances, and other more bizarre topics. Homeschooling has been no different and the stack of well-worn homeschooling how-to's, curricula, and philosophy books proves I've done my homework.

Unfortunately no amount of book knowledge replaces the value of experience and experience is what I lack. Although numerous friends homeschool I am not in there house day after day to see what it really looks like. And my personal school experiences have been outside of the home. Therefor I haven't a clue as to "how we are doing." I have no ruler on which to measure our experience by.

This is where the veterans come in and say, "It looks different at every house. You just have to find out what works for you and your family." Drats! This is similar to the advice I give my clients who initially seek nutrition counseling and ask, "Can't you just give me the written diet you give everyone else that will cure all my problems and make me healthy?" No such diet exists! Everyone's body has different needs, various past medical histories, and personal preferences. Numerous times I have told overwhelmed newbies that they will have to learn to listen to their bodies and together we will figure out the details of the diet. "You just have to find out what works for you and your family," I tell them. And now I see their frustration.

But being frustrated over a truth makes it no less true. It's easy for me as the expert to see the wisdom in my advice but the novice wants the knowledge handed over in a neat little package. The package that they are seeking is experience and it comes in neither form of neat or tidy. Nor can it come from a book.

I am the novice in this story. I've read the books, formed a plan but I still lack the experience. And in my frustration I question if I am spending too much time with my student or not enough. Are we spending too much time on curricula and not enough on Real Books? Or are we wasting our days away reading too many Real books and neglecting the curriculum? Should I be able to maintain my household chores easily? Is my two-year-old getting enough attention while I am busy with my student? What if we are done with school early in the day? Did I not plan enough work? Does this mean we are slackers? What if we are not done with school until after 3? Shouldn't homeschoolers be done with school early in the day? Am I overworking her? We are having fun but are we having too much fun and not doing enough work? Or are we not having enough fun?

Who in the world knows! But I suppose we will figure out what works for us over time. At least that's what they tell me. For now, I know who in the world knows. God knows. So although my fellow homeschoolers will not relinquish all their secrets and answer my mounting questions I know One who will show us where we need to be. My questions will go to Him. His grace is sufficient for me an my little homeschooler.