When I first thought of possibly homeschooling, and believe me, it wasn't my idea, I didn't know how I was going to replicate "real school" at home. I wanted to make sure that Maddy was getting the full "experience" and one of my main concerns was that I couldn't give her all of that, because I am only one person, only good at certain things, not all of them. I think when we first started, and even up until recently, I was still holding onto that "homeschool mom guilt." I think we all do it. We wonder what we are missing, what we haven't taught, what we forgot, what the "other kids" are doing. Ok, I still do it. I wonder, "Is she reading as well or better than other kids her age? Will she know everything she would learn in music class at school? Will she excel in art without having "art class" like they do in school? Will she get that kid-interaction and learn how to deal with other kids?" I know she is getting some of these things through Classical Conversations, and for that, I am so glad. She is learning the tin whistle, art, doing science experiments, learning about artists and orchestra, and doing weekly presentations. She is learning to sit in a classroom, when to be quiet, lining up in a line, and making friends in her small class. But as far as what we do at home. I always wonder if we are doing enough. I think sometimes I pile too much into each day, just trying to "fill in the holes." I have an "other" category that includes the things I think of or stumble upon, and realize she should be learning, or should already know by now.
So what is the homeschool slide, you may ask? Well, I think it means that it's where we, as homeschool moms, can take a load off and not worry so much. It's not where we get lazy and stop teaching things. It's not where we drop the ball and watch TV instead of school our children. It's just where we stop the anxiety, and comparing ourselves to other moms who homeschool, or don't, and concentrate on all the wonderful blessings we have in being a homeschool mom. I have realized that it is such a privilege and joy to have my kids home with me all day. I get to teach them about life, and let them experience things with me that they wouldn't get if they were gone all day. They learn more things about how to run a house, how to take care of the baby, how to entertain themselves when mom has things to do, how to work independently on school, how to play when mom sends them off to play "together," and are interested in helping me cook when they see me start to get ingredients out.
Now this is not to say that that's all we do for school. My homeschooling philosophy is very academic, and their studies are very important to me. My mother-in-law is a wonderful example and counsel for me of a homeschooling mom who is strict with her kids studies and has had kids who have graduated highschool and gone on to colleges where their teachers have commented that their mom did a great job. They have been at the top of their classes and have done well in college. So I look to her for advice so that I can help my kids succeed as well.
Not everyone has the same philosophies in homeschooling as I do, and that's okay, but for me, academics is very important. But I guess my point is that we have to give ourselves a break sometimes. So many veteran homeschooling moms talk about how they wished they weren't so strict and hard on their kids in the early years. How there were tears and frustration, and how they didn't need to be so hard on them. I have Judah doing preschool this year, and I am pretty lax with him. I have realized that there will be no permanent damage done if we skip a week of his school, or have a lighter week, or if we don't do our "curriculum" one week but do other stuff instead. And with Maddy, I have to make myself take a day off once in awhile if it's absolutely necessary, and try to not feel guilty about it. We can take those breaks, we homeschool for crying out loud!!
So I guess in conclusion, I have realized that homeschooling is not ever going to look just like "regular school," and that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay, that's the point!! We can give our kids different experiences, a closer bonding with their siblings, and greater responsibility around the house, more hands-on, one-on-one intereaction, and a deeper studying of God's Word that they might not get at school. As in everything in life, our perspective is everything. If we focus on where we are lacking and what we are not doing and how we are failing, then we will be miserable homeschooling moms. But if we focus on our precious time with our kids, the responsibilities they are learning, the unique teaching times we have, and how we get to see their eyes opened to the world around them as they learn, then we will be joyful and content in our homeschooling journey that God has called us to. I know it's not for everyone, but if God has called you and your family to it, then be grateful that you have the opportunity to stay home and teach your precious children!! And embrace the homeschooling chaos!!