Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dealing with the Emotional Decision to Homeschool…or cómo no volverse loca.

Deciding to homeschool can set off a variety of emotions: anxiety, excitement, relief, determination, and confusion. ¡Que locura! Here are some tips for dealing with each one.


Photo by Boxercab

Anxiety

For some, anxiety is a constant companion. First you agonize over whether or not to homeschool, and then once you’ve made your decision, you may experience some more anxiety because you have no idea where or how to start the process. Or you may lay awake feeling unsure about your ability to teach your child. Maybe you worry you might miss something, or teach the wrong way. You may be concerned about your child’s socialization, or whether or not she is “keeping up” with other kids her age.

Below are some things that got me through those first few months until I became more comfortable and confident in our homeschool experience.

How do I begin the process?

Remember that your first few months of homeschooling will be a transition time that allows you to determine how your child learns and to find the best structure, method, and techniques that work for you. I tried to put aside my worry and embrace the change and uncertainty, knowing that we had begun an exciting journey that ends with tremendous benefits.

I also discovered that if I were stressed out, my child would pick up on it and become anxious, as well. So, sometimes, I had to work hard to be relaxed and open to new ideas, and to enjoy the ride.

For more about how to start, see “Confusion” below.

Will I really be able to be my child’s teacher?

You already are. From the moment your child was born, you have been teaching him or her your family’s outlook on life and the way you interact with others. Padres are the most important people in a child’s life, serving as role models and mentors. Homeschooling is no different.


What if I mess up and teach something wrong or forget something important?

Are you going to forget something? Absolutely. I’m sure I have. We all do. But that’s not the point. The goal is NOT to make our children know it all, but rather to care about it all. I try to remember that my goal is to teach them how to learn and to enjoy the process.


Will my child get enough interaction with other children?

Unless you live in a box in the middle of the desert, chances are your child will be fine. Part of successfully homeschooling your child is supplementing your curriculum with field trips or extracurricular activities. Your child will meet and interact with a variety of people and our goal is to help them develop meaningful relationships, not forcing friendships.


What if my child doesn’t keep up with the other kids his age?

Stop. Right. There. Each child is different regardless of whether he is homeschooled or in a public/private school. As a teacher and a parent I try to keep in mind that my job is not to compare them to others, but to help them reach their full potential, learning at the pace that is best for them. I can see distinct differences in both my children. They excel in different areas, and are developing at different stages. I try to keep in mind that my children will grasp the concept when they are ready.


Confusion

I made the mistake of going to a homeschool convention before I began. While I was amazed at all the products available, I was COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED. I think that I would really enjoy one now that I have some experience under my belt.

Since this was my first time homeschooling, the best thing I did was begin with a complete curriculum from an accredited company. (If you don’t want to spend so much money, you can often find curricula for sale on ebay or other discount sites.) This gave me the guidance I needed until I become comfortable enough to branch out on my own. Once you know what works for you and your child, you can wean yourself away from the program. Who knows? You may find that you prefer to use one throughout your entire homeschooling journey.


Relief

I was so relieved just to have the decision to homeschool completed. At least 80% of my anxiety evaporated – maybe more. The great part is that this allowed me to begin to finally move forward and start the journey.


Determination

This is a great feeling to spur you through the (sometimes) confusing process of starting up a homeschool program. The main thing that kept me going sometimes, was the realization that NO ONE is going to care more about my child’s education. If I didn’t fight to figure it all out, no one else would.


Excitement

I have tried to hold on to this feeling as long as I can. Sometimes, when I feel it ebbing away, I give myself a boost by reading the successes of other homeschooled families. I try to get together with other homeschoolers in our area once every week or two. I also try to stay connected on-line by subscribing to some great newsletters or blogs. I found that the best way to stimulate my excitement is through discovery – of new, easy, different, free, or fun activities or programs that I know my child will love.

Remember that your child will follow your lead and if school is monotonous and boring to you, chances are it is the same for your child. So don’t hesitate to mix it up a bit, or change the schedule.

And we always try to celebrate my child’s successful navigation of difficult concepts or subjects. We can all benefit from a break every now and then.

Con mucho cariño…

4 comments:

  1. I am still reading through your old posts so I may have missed it but I have a couple of questions for you. What curriculum did you use last year? How do you handle the bilingual aspect of homeschooling- different language each day, etc.? I have met so very few bilingual homeschoolers. I appreciate you sharing all of your knowledge and experience!

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  2. Adriana, I plan to cover a lot of ground in the next few weeks about beginning homeschooling. I'm no expert and can only share what has worked (or not worked) for my familia. The short answer is that I used the Calvert Kindergarten curriculum. I have not found any in Spanish. (I have found a few lesson plans here and there, but not a full curriculum.)
    As for the bilingual aspect, teaching them Spanish has been a giant challenge for me. I try to teach them new words in Spanish everyday, but I have been trying to find a set curriculum that I like and can deliver effectively. Still looking. However, I know of other homeschooling mamas that either talk only to their children in Spanish using OPOL method, or designate certain days. Will be sure to cover your questions next week.
    Anyone else able to share their experiences with Adriana?
    ~Monica

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  3. I am a first year homeschool mom and I just came across your blog today. Just what I needed to see! I am feeling overwhelmed and inadequate these days (especially with the holidays upon us) and wondering if I made a mistake taking on what seems to be a monumental task (tears). However, one of the reasons I decided to homeschool was/is to try different things with my child. I would love to teach my child in two languages! Just not sure if I am up for the challenge??

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Stefanie!

      I will be the first to admit that the holiday season is overwhelming period. I really ease up on teaching during December, and just fit it in on the days that are not swamped with work and other activities. And I also count days that we do field trips or activities outside the home such as storytime at the library, our monthly 4-H meetings, and homeschool field trips as school days. The kids are still learning, even when we aren't sitting down at the table doing to lessons out of the book. The first year is the hardest year because that is when you are finding your footing, learning what does and doesn't work. It gets a lot easier after the first year, at least it did for me! Hang in there and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If I can't answer, someone else might be able to!

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