Thursday, May 17, 2012

Note to My Former Self

This post is inspired by this blog post from Algebra, Essentially Blog. I have not read the blog post yet because I didn't want to copy any of it. But I love the idea and had to come here and write my own letter to a woman who really needed it:  myself.

Dear Me, Sweet, Well-Meaning Me:

You've done it. You have committed your beloved family to a lifestyle of homeschooling. Are you sure you have read EVERY SINGLE BOOK on homeschooling out there? Have you stayed up night after night reading every word on the world wide web that has ever been written by a homeschooling parent, looking for the magic bullets? Have you sweated through the Rainbow Resources book and every other homeschool material compendium out there?
OK, now forget all of it.

Your homeschool experience will not only be entirely unique, it will change dramatically over time. Many times.

Those "how to" books can be encouraging (though most are only anxiety-producing) but they can't, in reality, tell you HOW TO. Those secrets will come to you by trial and error...and success. Those paths you take will be completely road-less-traveled stuff.  You will talk to everyone, read everything, buy every book. In the end, you will toss most of it out and listen to the kids, you will listen to your own intuition, and you will, finally, trust the process.

Trust me, no one else has the answers for you. There is no right way. There are no silver bullets. No set of "musts" will help you. Somehow, through your fears and anxiety, the right things will happen. In spite of doubt and tears, your family will flourish whether you are book-heavy or free-and-easy. Living life provides.

For your first year as a homeschooling parent, that last paragraph will paralyze you at times. Sometime during your second year, you will realize that it is happening. That thing that was promised. You will be homeschooling with complete freedom and you are CAPABLE and competent. You won't need anyone to tell you what to do. You will realize that homeschooling is happening! And then you will LOVE that last paragraph.

Without sitting and learning each little phonic, your son will learn to read in his own time. Without forcing your daughter to write, she will create masterpieces. Without sweating over each practice problem and every lesson in the Saxon book, both of your children will understand math far better than you ever did. Without creating stress and tears and endless boredom, the kids will become amazingly educated people who are able to delve deeply into subjects and come up wiser and better educated than any spoon feeding ever did. No tests. No drills. No practice problems.

Which curriculum? 
Relax. Materials matter less than relationships and time and passion. Stuff to learn is everywhere! Great writing, nature, film, life events, community activity, travel, and all matter of experience will far surpass the benefits or shortcomings of any curriculum you will ever purchase. So spend less time polling everyone you know, incessantly reading book reviews, and organizing lesson plans. And spend more time with the kids with questions and answers and friends and debates and play and experiences and participating and downtime.

Before you are able to blink your eyes twice, the days of potato prints, blow paint, and glitter will be over. Suddenly you will realize they are no longer interested in circle time or play dates or creating castles on the front porch.
So enjoy each day, and keep learning!

With Utter Confidence in Me,


  1. Oh my gosh -- I could've written this letter, especially the first paragraph. I had to read ALL the books and scour all the catalogs. Heaven forbid I should do it "wrong."

  2. Just online, overdosing on homeschooling blogs. I'm always trolling for inspiration and back up and usually end up with an anxiety attack and Christian mama overload instead! (Hence my search for atheist homeschoolers, which led to you!) Your post was like a balm to me. It's a letter I need to write to myself. My boys are 5 and 6 years old - "school age" - so the rubber has been hitting the road in terms of our commitment to non-compulsory learning. It feels like the pressure is on, and I'm constantly questioning whether I'm doing what's right for my guys! And what if I'm doing it wrong?! I'm going to try and trust your words... in fact, I'm going to write a note to remind myself of what you've said. Thanks.

    1. I'm happy to hear it!!!!
      I hope to see you here again!

  3. Hello! I just found your blog while searching for information about homeschooling without religion (we are atheists, too). I have been considering homeschooling my eight year old daughter for the last two or three years. She had an awful year this year, and I can't help but feel discouraged when all she brings home is a pile of worksheets. I know I can do better than that. This post was really inspiring (it actually made me cry, for some reason). While I am totally ready to make the leap, the rest of my family is not, especially my husband. I know this is my own battle to fight, but I'd love any advice you might have to give.

    1. Kelli,
      Please come back again. Maybe we can help your husband feel better about the homeschool lifestyle.
      My husband used to feel the same he is totally on board and he is now it's loudest advocate!

    2. Thanks for that! We're in our third year of homeschooling and finally feel like we're in a good groove -- except of course for those moments of panic when I scour the net for the next great thing that is the essential component that I'm missing and I worry that everything is going to end in a pile of hooey -- the rest of the time it's zen-like! It's such a process! Nice to hear from someone farther along in the journey.


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