Friday, June 27, 2008

Just Winging It

Today is the last Friday in June, by which time I'm sure all of my homeschooling mom readers have ordered all their books and materials for next year, planned all of their lessons, purchased and organized a year's worth of craft supplies, and are eagerly deciding which of several extracurriculars to pursue with their happy children beginning in late August or early September.

I'm kidding.

If you are that organized, congratulations! Now slow down and give the rest of us a chance to catch up.

If you're like me, and haven't quite finished the grading from the last school year, and looked at today's date on the calendar with feelings of shock, wondering what the heck happened to June, relax! You're far from alone, and many homeschooling moms are in the same bind.

Novice homeschoolers sometimes think that all homeschoolers are like the handful they've met at extraordinary events or read about or even seen on television. You know, the people whose classroom would make a Yale instructor jealous, whose six-year-old is mastering deponent Latin verbs while the ten-year-old has moved on to Greek; the family where the mother has created an entirely new method of teaching math such that the three-year-old is doing differential calculus, all while the family runs a busy and successful home-based business creating and manufacturing home-tapestries for the home liturgical altar. This mom's lesson plans were all completed while the oldest child was in utero, though she admits with a giggle that she fine-tunes them incessantly (the plans, not the children)--and while the television special's camera sweeps across their immaculate home to show the eight-year-old busily crafting toys for the new baby's imminent arrival, the only Latin word you can remember, to your shame, is vomitorium.

In reality, of course, even the TV or magazine homeschooling families aren't that perfect. And a lot of us in the homeschooling trenches are ready, willing and able to admit that quite a lot of the time, we're winging it.

I order my books in mid-July, much to the consternation of curriculum providers. I write up lesson plans only a week at a time--I used to try to plan for a month or so in advance, but one good family-crippling stomach virus was all it took to make us spend the rest of a semester "catching up." I'm not as organized as I should be, and sometimes my most ambitious plans are the ones that crash and burn the most spectacularly.

And despite it all, or because of it all, my children are learning.

They read, and remember. They do interactive games or watch educational television, and somehow retain complex facts. They share interesting tidbits of information with each other, and absorb more than I could ever possibly teach them, no matter how organized or driven I was. They ask to do science experiments, and remind me to pick up the materials. So far two of them have taught themselves hand sewing with only minor instructions--and I think they grasp the whole principle of clothing construction far more than I ever did.

It isn't necessary to be an ubermom, a Superwoman, a paragon of organization, education, and talent to teach your kids at home. The most necessary quality is simply the desire and determination to do it--and the rest will fall into place, over years of practice and habit and experience and the joy of just being there to be a part of it all.

So, I haven't ordered our books or supplies yet. What's the rush? It's only the end of June.


freddy said...

Oh, thank You, Lord! There's hope for me yet!

God bless you, Red, I needed the pep-talk!

lwestin said...

We have had sooo many 'interruptions' over the years that we don't take a complete break in the summer. We know we're going to need the extra time!