When you are use to one way of doing things it’s hard to break from it. When you have been taught and shown certain methods, adapted to certain environments and are accustomed to specific schedules it is embedded in you and becomes routine. When I first started homeschooling breaking away from these normalities and traditions of mainstream education was one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome.
Learning through mainstream education was like a conditioning camp. We were taught and expected to go along with the order of the system ie. what, how and when we learned it, which holidays to observe (days off of school), how long the school year will be, how the classrooms were set up, when to start school, when to eat, when to take a break (recess), who and what to deem as an important part of history etc. We had no say so in any of these things and had to go along with how someone else thought it should be.
Think of when you go out to eat. Do you like to have different options to choose from? I don’t always like to eat the same foods so I prefer a buffet over a menu serving restaurant. I get to go around and choose different types of food from the food stations and pick the eats I enjoy. It takes several elements to make up the plate that suites me. Everyone might not like the same foods. Some may even have food allergies and be intolerant to certain foods. Public education is a menu serving restaurant because you only get what’s on the menu. The menu may change occasionally but everyone has to order strictly from that one menu and has no other options. Everything you like and need may not be on that one menu. Homeschooling is a buffet because every family gets to pick and choose what they like. They get a variety of options that makes up their plate and are choosing based on their taste and what looks good to them. They are not stuck with just one menu suites all. We as humans aren’t made that way. Just as we have different food preferences and our bodies are affected differently with certain foods, we all have our own unique learning styles and the way we are taught has a huge effect on us.
It was so challenging for me to remember that our homeschool shouldn’t look like public school. What I mean by that is one of the main purposes of me teaching my kids at home was to have freedom to teach however best suites us. My first thought was to order school desks just like the ones we had. But then I got to thinking...no way. I wanted to have a community style learning where all of our children learn together as a group. They would have their separate individual work but we would also be doing group activities. We went with a long table and chairs instead. We have a separate shorter table for quiz and test taking that my daughter likes to use.
Another thing was where we did school. I was so used to being in a classroom that when we first started we did our learning in one place all the time and called it our schoolroom. Now we do school in multiple places; including outside the home depending on what’s going on at the time. For instance there are times my youngest daughter wakes up late and I have to stop teaching to feed her. Sometimes the kids meet me downstairs to finish their work at the table so they can readily get assistance when needed. Or when I’m teaching a reading lesson we sit on the couch to be comfortable and relax while learning. Sometimes my oldest son lays across our bed to do his work because he wants more quiet. School is wherever learning is taking place and that place is our choice. We don’t have to set up the way we learn like the traditional school system does.
To go along with the setting of school the timing of it was also a hurdle for me. When we first started we were out of school every time the public schools were. We observed the same holidays and days to take off. This is part of that conditioning I was talking about. It was just natural for me to do so as if I felt obligated or felt I was doing wrong if I didn’t. I wanted my kids to be able to have the same days off as their friends, ya know so they can go outside together and play during the day. Then I started to remember again and realized our school does not have to look like theirs.
Well that changed to having days off and observing the holidays we choose. We even do our Summer and Fall breaks differently. We are on our own schedule and go at a pace that suites our children, it only makes sense that these types of things will differ from what’s considered the “norm”. We as home educators should want our schools to look different because that’s the whole purpose of us doing this anyway...to teach our children according to what works for us and not what someone else says works. We have the liberty to teach what, how and when we want, why not take advantage of that.
We also eat and take breaks according to when we want. I used to have a time sheet of our whole day listed. At this time we’ll do this and at this time we’ll do that. I still use it as a reference to help manage our time but it’s not strictly used. I don’t have to rush my children’s education. We are not on anyone else’s schedule, we don’t have to get permission to move on and we don’t have any deadlines. Everyday is different and our schedule changes because....life happens. They have the privilege of learning at their own pace and taking all the time they need to get a concept down. We move on when they have mastered it and they don’t have to wait on anyone else. This is so different from the way I learned. I felt so rushed and was not able to keep up with some of the things we learned in school. I suck at math because I was too embarrassed to ask questions and couldn’t keep up so I cheated on my tests to get by. Thank goodness I am getting my second chance at learning it through teaching my kids and I am loving it! My kids laugh at me when I say things like
Oh, I get it now. That’s what they were talking about? Why didn’t they teach me this way? Wow that makes so much more sense now. Whoo Hoo I finally get it!
I tell them all the time I am learning with them all over again.
There were also times at school I was drowning in boredom because I actually caught on to a concept but had to wait for everyone in the class to get it before we moved on.
I overcame these hurdles by unconditioning myself and customizing our school according to our needs and preferences. It was very challenging to do and I still question myself today with some things based on how I learned. Letting go of the traditions I was used to has been liberating and a big load and stress has been lifted from me. It is very warming knowing our children have this privilege to learn without conditions and limited options. They will be ready for the opportunities out there that await them ~
We would love for you to join in the conversation. @homeeders is now running a QOTW (question of the week) for home educators! This post is in response to the current question What has your biggest hurdle been while homeschooling?. You can participate by writing a comment on the post or making a post on your own. Please be sure to leave a link to your post in the comment section in the above @homeedders post so we won’t miss you!
Thanks for Reading ~