Thursday, April 9, 2009

Inexperience is Part of the Experience

At our recent homeschool conference, my husband and I enjoyed the company of two ladies from our church. We came in seperate vehicles and stayed at different hotels, but met for meals and visits throughout the weekend.

Both these ladies are just taking their first, in-depth look at homeschool. The first woman is my age with a 2 year old at home. She is currently homeschooling her teenage step-daughter, however, being in a second marriage she never had the opportunity to teach from the beginning. The second woman is actually considering schooling her grandson, whom she adopted last year. So, they are both looking at this challenge through fresh eyes.

Each of them has expressed their anxieties about the tremendous amount of knowledge they believe they are lacking:

"What curriculum is best for my child? Do I want a diploma for him at the end? What kind of schedule is needed? Should I set up a classroom? How do I set up a classroom?"

Remembering when we first entered the home education arena, we empathized with their anxieties and listened to their questions. However, I am not the type to dwell on anxieties for long. Nor do I generally 'overthink' my decisions, schedules or plans. My husband does and he lovingly refers to me as a simpleton. I'm okay with that - simple is a good thing in my mind. I like to approach new challenges with the thought, "it can't be that hard!"

So when the mother of the 2yo asked my opinion about a Canadian history book ($30!) for the teenager at home, I talked her out of the purchase, "Take an hour or two and set up unit studies on history subjects". I reminded her about how my Duck learned (and continues to learn) about Canadian geography (see here). The only money I spent was on a laminated map ($4.99) and the rest of the study has been time researching on the computer - and not alot of time was needed. Simple, but effective.

The grandmother hasn't decided what her focus will be for her grandson's education. Being a new christian, she still has alot of secular worldviews in her thinking, which means I need to speak carefully when answering her questions. She does not see a difference in the roles of male and female (feminist), and she still sees 'higher education' as a goal for all young people to 'make a success in this world'. So my simple answers (college is not a necessity; young men should be raised to be leaders in the church first; success is found in a life glorifying God) do not satisfy her. In fact, she can look at me as though I have two heads! But, she is still willing to talk with me, so I'll keep selling her my simple ways.

There are dozens of ways to accomplish home education and dozens of curriculums to do it. It can be overwhelming, frustrating and scary when stepping into this challenge. We all know our kids our worth it and we can't allow fear (or the fearmongers!) of the unknown to stop us.

By the time our kids reach an age for formal schooling, they have learned to walk, talk, use the toilet, use utensils, accomplish chores, etc. WE, the parents, taught them all that! Public school teachers were inexperienced in the classroom once, too. They learned how to do it, so can any parent.

So what are you waiting for? Teach your children!

Mydoctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto oue God. Deuteronomy 32:2&3

1 comment:

Mrs. Parunak said...

AMEN! You are so right! When my parents' generation was homeschooling, there were so few choices, but now everybody and his brother has the very latest and greatest, "must have" curriculum, guaranteed to transform your child into a brilliant, talented, and not to mention GODLY individual, if only you'll plunk down your money and order the teacher's manual and flashcards as well. It can be so utterly overwhelming to try to sift through all the options and figure out what is going to work for your family, especially if you're unsure of where to start. But you're absolutely right, we CAN do it. We'll get over our inexperience, just like every other teacher at home or at school.