Clueless: Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

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The Clueless Homeschooler could be the title of my new book. Not that I have an old book, or plan to write any book. But if I were to write a book about this season in my life, that’s probably what I would call it. I wouldn’t be able to offer any valuable tips for the homeschooling mom, I would just want the reader to know that it’s okay if she is also clueless, because I certainly am.   

So if you are reading this article to find out about how to effectively homeschool your children, please do keep searching. I am just going to encourage you here that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing and it’s okay to be clueless and that you are certainly not alone.  I will tell you one very important piece of information about cluelessly homeschooling and that is to immediately unfollow all the perfectly clued in accounts on Instagram because the only thing that you’re likely to get is a bad feeling about yourself.  Sure, you might pick up a tip or two, but overall, your homeschool will not look like theirs and so it’s best to just shield your eyes from that kind of stress.   

It was never on my heart to homeschool, although I will confess that I was mildly intrigued by the idea of it.  I imagined how I would wake up every day in the mood to educate my kids and they would wake up every day ready to learn.  We would do delightful arts and crafts, we would bake, and our homeschool room would be an environment of love, cooperation, harmony and all the curated books and well-organized educational toys known to momkind.  Then I would get stressed out over the expectation of all that, so I sent them off to school to be educated by a professional teacher who was abundantly blessed with patience, charm, worksheets, and know-how.   

In this season of Covid-19, my husband and I made the choice to withdraw our 2nd grade son from his elementary school when the school district reopened in October for in-person learning.  Since the start of the 2020 school year, the virtual learning model was not a difficult hardship for my family and I was actually quite satisfied with how it was going.  Was it ideal?  No, but I also did not find it to be the worst thing, either. Our teacher was amazing and she did such a great job of keeping the kids engaged. The amount of time spent at the computer was acceptable. When school reopened, we knew that we would not go back to in-person learning because we have a 94-year-old grandma who lives with us and we felt like it was too risky. But when we found out that our son would go from being in the virtual classroom for 3 hours to 6.5 hours, we just couldn’t do that either. Not with a preschool aged kiddo at home, too. There’s no way I could keep him from being an interruption for that long every single day. We would want to go out and enjoy the perfect Scottsdale weather but I can’t take Big Brother with us while he’s in school and I can’t leave him at home either. After careful and prayerful consideration, we decided to withdraw him from school and establish ourselves as a homeschooling family.   

Clueless as I may be about it all, here I am, homeschooling my 2nd grader and hoping that I can at least manage to teach my preschooler how to count to 20. Thankfully, I have a few friends who homeschool and I was able to turn to them for counsel and advice. One wise friend (and former Scottsdale Moms contributor) said that homeschooling is hard under normal circumstances, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. She encouraged me to arm myself with ample layers of grace and to just take it one day at a time. She warned me that there would be good days and not the best days and then there would be some days where I just wanted to march his little tush into the school office and beg them to take him back right there on the spot. She hit the nail on the head with that prediction! But grace abounds, and when in doubt, have PE. PE might be the best class ever invented for homeschool families. Also, we have made approximately 113 various STEAM projects out of toilet paper rolls and paper plates. My other favorite subject to teach is Home Economics. My two boys will have a Master’s in Hanging Up Shirts and Silverware Sorting.   

I’ve been officially homeschooling for two months, and no two days ever look the same. We try to do a math lesson and read for 20 minutes every day. I also ask him to write a paragraph every day in his journal about what he did that day or what is on his heart. Most of our learning is done on the fly and by doing everyday tasks like making a grocery list and figuring out how much it will cost to buy six bananas. On election day, we learned some facts about the election process. He wrote thank-you notes for the gifts he received from his birthday and then we learned about how the post office works. We even paired up with his best friend (who also homeschools) and had a Dragons Love Tacos party.  That day’s subjects included mostly recess and lunch, but we also crafted and the boys took turns reading the book and talking about it.   

As a homeschooling family, I do love the freedom we have of doing what we want (for the most part) when we want.  If we want to take a field trip to the zoo, we go. If we want to drive up to north to see the leaves on the trees changing colors, we do. If we want to build puzzles all day long, nothing can stop us. Some days we do a whole bunch of math lessons. Some days we just read about the most interesting topics out in the hammock of the backyard. Some days we take our homeschool to the park for the presentation of book reports. The beauty of homeschool is that it can look like a million different things and there’s not a cookie cutter method. As the headmistress, I decide what our curriculum is. As an educated person myself, I trust my own ability to effectively teach my children in the required standard subjects.  

A lot of moms will say that they could never homeschool. I just want to dispel that myth because as moms, we honestly have no idea what we can (and do) do when we are faced with hard things. I will tell you that as soon this virus gets under control and sending my children to school doesn’t feel like it would compromise the health of our most fragile family member, they will (by my plan) be back in the classroom with their cohorts. But for now, this is the hard thing that I must do, and as I dig deep into the unending well of “the stuff moms are made of” I am amazed at what I am capable of doing. Even if I am clueless at how to go about doing it.   

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