This is a guest post from Alicia Kazsuk over at TheVintageCreative.com.
She has a beautiful blog you will want to check out (if the name is not already enticing you, LOL.) Alicia is a homeschooling mom to four kiddos, a lover of Christ, and all things healthy and crafty.
The kids and I just completed our ninth week of school, and I’m finally comfortable saying this: Things are working well.
I changed things up a bit this year, giving my older two a lot more independence. This has been a long time coming. But, now that we’ve made the change, I can see how much it has improved their attitude about school (and freed up so much more time for me to spend teaching five-year-old Princessa and hanging out with our 20-month old). It’s been huge for all of us.
“What?!” you may be asking. “Don’t you have this whole ‘scheduling’ thing figured out with your kids? I mean, didn’t you write a book on this?!”
That’s an interesting point. Yes, I did write a book on how to create a homeschooling lifestyle within the confines of real life. And while the kids and I have gotten pretty good about bending the homeschooling routine to fit the unexpected (like the umpteenth trip to the doctor for the month), there’s a hidden homeschooling skill that I’m still honing. In fact, I think every homeschool teacher—even those who’ve been teaching for 20 years or more—works on this skill every year. Every day of every year, in fact.
It’s the fine “art” of homeschooling.
Follow with me here. If determining daily routines and subject matter/curriculum are the “science” (the tangible, “how to” side) of homeschooling, then there’s a whole other “art” of teaching that we moms must learn.
It’s the art of knowing when a child is “finished” with a subject for a day (and when they need to be gently encouraged to do a little more).
It’s the ability to ascertain that, no, this curriculum or style of learning isn’t working (and the wisdom to know what might be a better educational path).
It’s the hidden understanding that a child’s daily disobedience during school hours might mean that he needs more one-on-one time during non-school hours.
It’s the talent for knowing how to arouse a child’s fascination with a topic instead of boring him with meaningless facts.
It’s the difference between the mom that teaches her kids and the mom that develops curious, lifelong learners who are excited to make an impact on the world.
Art Skills—Direct From The Master Artist
Like any powerful work of art, the “art” of homeschooling is hard to fully describe, and is portrayed differently in each teacher.
It’s the same type of seasoned wisdom visibly present when you hand a mom of six kids a brand-new baby. She just knows what to do. It wasn’t that way when she was handed her first newborn, or maybe even her second or third.
But, now six babies in, she is blessed with an innate sense—an art—of how to hold, comfort and love on that little one. She may have read all the books and watched how other moms took care of their kids, but time and experience have been her greatest teachers. The late nights, desperate prayers for help, and trial-and-error experiences have transformed her (very slowly) from a brand-new, unsure mom to a confident and seasoned mother.
And that beautiful transformation is also part of the homeschooling mom’s journey. Once you see this side of yourself beginning to develop, all those times of uncertainty are worth the incredible pearls of wisdom that have been left in frustration’s wake.
In fact, these “art skills” are a direct gift from God himself. They are His reward for all those difficult trials. They are the “beauty for ashes” he allows us to gain (Isaiah 61:3). And they make us comforters (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) to those who are struggling desperately in the sometimes incredibly rocky path of homeschooling.
More than that, the “art” of homeschooling is often when I see the very presence of God in my life. It’s when, if my soul is quiet enough, I have the opportunity to truly allow the Creator of the Universe to guide our homeschool.
It’s when He changes up my lesson plan because He’s got a better idea of what to teach the kids (and sometimes me) that day.
It’s when I’m given a spur-of-the-moment explanation (or even a scripture verse) to share with the kids when dealing with a difficult topic (or an even more difficult behavior issue).
It’s those moments when I hear “take a deep breath… you can always teach them this tomorrow” whispered in my ear.
It’s being content—truly, truly peaceful—with where my kids are at in their studies. It’s when I choose to ditch the arbitrary tests and instead let their genuine effort, character and zest for knowledge serve as benchmarks for growth and if they are “learning enough” or not.
It’s when I hear (and really believe) that still, small voice that says, “What you are doing is enough. Keep on going and just trust me for the details.”
And over the summer, it was that overall feeling that we needed to switch up how we “did” school. It was listening to God that yes, it was OK for the boys to begin working much more independently and trusting him that in fact we’d all be blessed by this simple change.
But Picasso Doesn’t Live Here (Yet)
But what if this touchy-feely side of homeschooling is still a foreign language to you? Forget about learning the “art” of homeschooling: you’re just trying to keep your kids’ attention spans long enough so they can finish the lesson!
If this is all new to you, take heart that, eventually, you too will develop this skill!
Trust me, I would not have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself! It wasn’t that long ago that I was probably driving my veteran homeschool friends crazy with my “but how do you know it’s not the right curriculum?”-type questions.
I didn’t understand what they meant when they said, “slow down… worry less about what to teach them and more about how you are teaching them… just give them a love for God and for learning about His great world.” I wanted to respond, “Um, aren’t I giving them a ‘love for learning’ when I sit them down and make them do their schoolwork?” (yeah, notice the words “make them do”—that should give you a clue as to how lacking I was in the “art of homeschooling” department!).
But little by little, I’ve noticed progress. And over the past five weeks, it’s been exciting to realize how much progress! In many ways, I’ve liberated myself from the “what ifs” and “how do I’s” that plagued me in the past.
Like that mom of six kids who’s handed a newborn, I am so much more confident than when I started out. I trust (and don’t second-guess) my decisions more. I am willing to take an unconventional teaching approach if it means that my students will truly learn and grow. I have let go of the “shoulds” and “must haves” for particular grade levels and instead am trusting God’s hand to guide me daily through the personal learning path for each of my kids.
With each passing year, it’s so encouraging to know that I am becoming a better homeschool “artist.”
And, friend, you are too! Keep on plugging away, and listen to God’s voice to guide your steps. You may not be able to see it now, but when a little time has passed, you’ll look back and witness that beautiful masterpiece for yourself. I promise!
Carrie is the owner & operator of Homeschool Giveaways. She has been homeschooling for over a decade and has successfully graduated her first homeschooler. She has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.
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