Home Schooling Journey
Beginning to reflect- Making Mistakes
As I learn about homeschooling at a rapid pace as I go along, I find that I'm learning so much. I just had a thought to record my journey and share with anyone who will listen (read). I never thought I'd share my thoughts with others so publicly. I've never been a good writer (so please forgive any errors you will probably find), but I do love to reflect, journal, and teach. My biggest love is being a mom to my beautiful kids and learning so much more because of them than I ever knew I would. So here are my thoughts as I learn to homeschool my kids.
First, a little background. God led me to become a teacher, but he placed being a mom on my heart since before I can remember. Sounds silly to some I'm sure... In kindergarden, I have a very vivid memory of standing on stage at graduation as our teacher read aloud our names as we stood frozen scanning a sea of smiling faces. Each audience member listening to what the little ones before them dreamed of becoming: firefighter, doctor, veterinarian...yes even teachers. Proud parents nodded, friends gave other parents proud smiles for their little one's lofty goals of occupation...Then came my turn. "Lisa Collins, when she grows up she wants to be...a mom," the teacher said with a smirk. That's it, just a mom. Laughter filled the room and blood filled my cheeks! Then I did not understand why my dream invoked such a different response than my classmate's dreams. Flash-forward 25 years and here I am, I've never been happier. I'm a mom.
Don't get me wrong. I chose a profession, a career. I worked hard and now have both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Education. I began to substitute teach right away. And I have taught for a full year and three months with my own classroom and high school girls basketball coaching position to top it off. I followed what I thought I was supposed to do. Now I'm doing what I've always dreamed of doing. I just took a longer way to get here.
Last year my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids. I'm a licensed teacher and work as a substitute teacher. Public schools are a given, a part of life I never questioned. Neither my husband nor I was homeschooled. When videotaping our first car ride home with our son, I taped the school we drove by telling him he'd go there someday and walk to school. But God has called us to something I wouldn't have expected. But that's the beauty of it, it's not what I envisioned. The idea fell upon us and doors have been opening ever since. There have been some bumps (fears and worries), but even more there have been people brought into our lives that keep encouraging our decision. God is leading me here, I'm certain of that.
So in just a little over a year, my son now reads and is doing first grade math at age 5. He reads as fluently as he talks, and he comprehends what he is reading. Already he's obtained a skill that is essential to his freedom to learn in just the first year! Most of all, I know him. I see what makes him light up, I see what frustrates him, I hug him so many times each day, I hear his giggles. He's comfortable, he's confident. It just blows me away that I get to watched him learn every step of the way.
Not every moment of teaching him has been blissful or made me feel proud. In fact, many moments I feel frustrated and inadequate. I let doubt of my choice to homeschool take over and make me insecure and tentative. I let people's responses to our choice push me to focus on things that are not essential. I let my plan for the year pressure our time and make me less patient. No, not every moment is good. But every moment teaches me something. Which brings me to my first reflection topic: Making Mistakes.
Just this week. I noticed my son was getting frustrated whenever he'd make a mistake. Now the teacher in me runs through all of the excuses and reasons that could be effecting his attitude: did he eat enough? did he sleep enough? is he too hard on himself? is he missing a building block to help me learn this new thing? did I rush the lesson so that he's not prepared for the application? is this lesson too boring? etc. Of course, all of these questions pop into my head at once. So I asked him, "Why are you so mad when you make mistakes?"
He responded, "Because you get mad when I get it wrong and I don't want to make a mistake."
Yep, simple. My poor little five year old! He understood why he was frustrated, why couldn't I? I had no idea he thought I was mad at his mistakes. I did seem mad. He didn't know it was because of my own agenda to get things done in a timely manner. Not because he was wrong or made a mistake.
But it wasn't the time to sulk, it was the time to teach. So I told him he was right and that I was sorry. We talked about how mistakes aren't bad. We now say, "When you make a mistake, what do you do? Fix it." That's it! In a happy tone we remind each other mistakes are ok. Now he fixes them without the frustration.
That may seem simple but it's something I had to learn. I didn't know that I was pressuring him. I need to let him make mistakes. His mistakes are important. They are opportunities to learn. Just because he has a teacher to hover over everything he writes down doesn't mean I should. He taught me he needs more freedom to grow and I gladly give it to him because I love him so much! It's not about controlling his education, it's about being there to guide it to what he needs. Every kid learns differently, now I know a little more about him.
Hopefully this will help you feel a bit more normal. I look to mom's who have lots of kids and seem like they've got it so figured out and under control. I can't tell you how relieved I feel to hear, they have struggles too (not that I rejoice in their struggles of course, just in knowing I'm not alone).
Although, mistakes aren't bad if we learn from them and fix them, I rather learn from others to gain knowledge than to make more mistakes than necessary. Have you had any stories of real moments in learning to homeschool? Even moments you may not be proud of but have learned from that you can share?