Last week I had meetings all week. In Iowa, one of the assessment options for homeschoolers is to work with a supervising teacher. Since I was a licensed teacher in Ohio back in the 80’s I was able to obtain a substitute teacher’s license when we moved to Iowa. This allows me to act as a supervising teacher for other homeschoolers. I am required by the state to meet quarterly with homeschooling families so I meet in August, November, February, and April. At these meetings, I talk to both the parents and the students. The families I work with cover the spectrum of homeschooling methods. I have families who purchase their entire curriculum for the year as a packaged deal from their chosen publisher. I also have families who are total “unschoolers,” learning in rhythm with their child’s interests, using no conventional curriculum at all. The majority fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
I’ve noticed one similarity shared by all types of homeschoolers. They desperately want to do what is best for their children and, because of the skeptics they must constantly answer to, they doubt their ability to do what they desire most.
This is where I come in. One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is the opportunity I have to look these sometimes very discouraged moms and dads in the eye and say, “You can do this and I will help you succeed any way I can.” Some visibly relax when they hear those words. Somewhere inside them, they know that they can do what is best for their child but the outside influences have slowly eroded their confidence. My goal is to help rebuild their confidence and help restore some excitement about this homeschooling adventure they are on.
And, it is an adventure! Every day presents the opportunity to explore new ideas and make new discoveries. That’s what learning is supposed to be, not the drudgery of taking tests and completing assignments. While some find they need that sort of feedback, that isn’t where the joy of the journey is found.
The joy comes when you see your little boy read his first Bob Book all by himself or when you see the satisfaction on your daughter’s face the first time she gets all her multiplication facts right. But even better are those times when you watch a thunderstorm move in and learn together about the power of the weather. Or when you watch a bee on a tiny spring flower and you marvel at the incredible way creation comes to life after a long winter.
The best part of homeschooling is getting to experience these things with your children, not just hearing about them second hand when your children come home tired from a day in the classroom. That’s what makes it all worth it.
And, after a week of meetings, if I have been able to encourage my families to look at the bigger picture, I feel like I’ve made a difference. Yes, there are curriculum decisions to make and challenges to deal with but in the long run what matters most is the day to day interactions between parent and child. The homeschooling adventure happens a day at a time and sometimes a moment at a time.
Enjoy the journey!