The family in 1998, a few months after we started homeschooling.
Homeschooling requires such faith. For most of us, it means striking out on terrain that is unfamiliar, that requires new tools. We want to believe that we’ll get where we want to go, that the journey will be good for our kids, but how can we know, when we weren’t homeschooled ourselves?
I wish I could go back now and reassure the just-starting-out me. Which is why my latest column for home / school / life is a letter to that very person. That very earnest, naïve young person.
Dear just-beginning-to-homeschool me,
I’m writing to you from seventeen years from now. Your five-year-old boy who builds bedrooms for toy mice has just graduated from college, and his two-year-old sister with the doll named Cookie has just begun. That empty fifth seat at the kitchen table will get filled with a baby in a high chair one day, although you will have to wait longer for him than you hope to. He’s twelve now.
A few things as you start: don’t think of this as a start. You’ve been a mother for five years now; you know how to make your kids happy by feeding them, reading to them, taking them to the park with the curly-slide, and singing every verse of “Here’s to Cheshire, Here’s to Cheese.” You give them homemade play dough scented with cinnamon, and silk scarves for their games. You teach them to be kind. You encourage them when they try new things, and don’t talk when they’re frustrated. This, sweets, is homeschooling. Don’t think: now that my kid is of kindergarten age he should (fill in the blank: write words, add numbers to ten, hold a pencil so it doesn’t look like he’s stirring a pot of soup.) That’s school thinking and it will only muck things up. All will happen in good time.
You can read the rest in the fall issue.
P.S. If you read this blog, you probably know more about me than you care to, but if you’re curious about how our family got started homeschooling, or what makes me smile, or what happens when I go into my favorite Indian dive restaurant every Wednesday night, you might check out an interview with me on the home / school / life blog.
And because I love hearing from you, dear readers, how about telling me a few Things YOU Like in the comments?
* One more thing I like.
I like when an old favourite pops in again, for a quick cuppa.
I really like that we’re off to Rome with the 3yo next week, and that the 6yo is going to Disneyland Paris with his grandparents.
I really, really like that this week I pulled her out of nursery school. Her daddy and I agreed years ago, (when I first started spouting this home ed nonsense (!)) that they would do nursery school, but her big brother hated it, and I am so proud that this time around I found a good balance between showing him enough respect to give it what he sees as a fair try, and having the confidence in what I am doing to take her side. I’ve come on a long way, and dh has, well, come to realise that I am not to be opposed on this. It’s still early days.
But my best thing is the friendship between my kids. The first time he stopped and let her get to the top of the steps first, and then patted her on the head and said, “hey, Lauren, you won!” The drawing they did together, for me, of us all in our house, and an alien between the boxes in the loft. The way she’s just taught him her favourite new board game. Their laughter, and this- “Quick, Mummy’s coming! Hide!”
Hey, wandering Sue!
Your last paragraph gave me a big grin. The ““Quick, Mummy’s coming! Hide!”” brought me right back to my own two, at the time of that photo above. The sweetest.
Rome with your girl! Have the most fabulous time!
i like that diana is back to homeschooling after her experimental year in public school for 5th grade. i like that she is regaining her interest in reading, in writing, in creating for the pure joy of indulging her curiosity. i like that we are finding our way, again, to explore and learn together, or at least side-by-side. i like that in a homeschool enrichment writing class, she found kindred spirits who want to support each other even after the class has ended.
i like that ander, at age 7, is surrounded by encouragement and support in his 2nd grade classrooms. i like how he is read aloud to – and has quiet reading time alone – every day there. i like how he has carried this over to his time at home and gets excited when i say that i got something new at the library. i like how he snuggles up in bed and reads his favorites stories aloud to me.
i like that i am taking time to read for my own personal pleasure, discovering new authors and stories, and rediscovering old favorites.
i like that my husband is doing so, too, and that, if you popped your head in on us on a given evening, we would all be reading.
Oh, Dawn, I love hearing about what is working so well in your lives right now! How wonderful that Diana has chosen to homeschool again, and that you all seem so pleased with that!
Your family reading time sounds wonderful. I like that idea too. 🙂
I like that my family was lucky to spend five days last week in New Orleans noshing on beignets and po’ boys and enjoying lots of amazing live music right there on the French Quarter streets. I also really like that I got to hang out there with a scholar who’s been studying Chaplin for fifteen years and that I convinced her to go hear some jazz at Preservation Hall with me, something she said she never would have done on her own.
I like that my twelve-year-old son who’s almost as tall as I am is still willing to hold my hand and walk with his arm around me in public, and I LOVE that he and I have a daily late-morning routine of playing a board or card game with each other.
I like that my nine-year-old girl’s decision to try a part-time “school for homeschoolers” has worked out really well for her and our family, leading to new friends, new experiences, and new confidence for her, even though I was in agonies over the change when she made the choice last spring. I’ll be off in a few hours to see her give a talk costumed as Joan of Arc, speaking in Joan’s voice, telling Joan’s story–something I don’t think my girl would have tried if she weren’t at this school, but that she’s really enjoyed putting together. I REALLY like that.
And finally, I like that after an autumn full of amazing travel, I’m home for peaceful holidays with family and friends, and a long exhale after a year of so much change.
This all sounds fantastic, Carrie! Did you offer that workshop when you were in New Orleans? (I never responded to your email response, I realize! Oh dear. If I don’t respond to emails right away, they get pushed down, down, down in my inbox. I’m sorry!)
I hope you’re enjoying those peaceful holidays!
Hi Patricia! Yes, I was on a panel in New Orleans for a humor conference. The hotel was right on Bourbon Street, so many panels were accompanied by brass bands and heavy metal guitar soloists performing on the street just outside the conference room. Made it all quite memorable and a bit hard at times to focus on the talks! I felt as if I held my own with the academic folk and got some nice comments on my talk, so that was a good confidence booster.
I’m hoping very much to finish my Chaplin book this year and start sending it out. Who knows if anyone’ll bite, but I’ve got to try!
I’m thrilled for you, Carrie. You have homeschooled yourself into a Chaplin expert! You inspire me.
I’m happy to give you feedback on newer drafts–keep me in mind. Keep at it!
Oh, and by the way–that photo of your family is adorable. All of you, just babies! Babies!
We were babies! Having Mr. T has made childhood linger on in a way, but life with the other two as young kids was so long ago…
My child just turned 4, and he’s 7 months into preschool. We are seriously considering taking him out of school at least until kindergarten, but maybe longer. I just found your blog and am enjoying it quite a bit. This article really spoke to me. I want to read the rest, but when I went to the website for the magazine, I didn’t see a way to access the article or purchase past issues of the magazine. Please advise. Thanks very much for your interesting blog.
Hi MooseMama! Thank you for the kind words about the blog! I’m especially grateful that you’re interested in this particular column of mine. I recommend that you send an email to Amy and Jason, the publishers of the magazine, and lovely people. Tell them that you’re interested in a copy of the Fall 2014 edition. I know that you can buy a copy of the current issue for $5; I’m guessing that they could send you a past issue on request. You can reach them at email@example.com
Please let me know if that works out!