The wonderful thing about homeschooling, in comparison to running a classroom, is that there’s plenty of time and very little pressure right now to establish a routine and expectations within a short amount of time. In a formal classroom, I focus typically on communicating clear expectations, knowing students’ names, and making sure that everyone understands how thye’ll be assessed and what makes up the bulk of course content, all within the first week. There’s a real focus on starting off on the right foot, because time is short and I don’t want to risk losing students along the way. With thirty students to think about each period, my lack of attention can mean that students slip under the radar, with nothing to halt their descent except for panic at the midterms and finals.
Being at home, in contrast, is a wonderful thing to experience as an educator. I have made many mistakes in the first few years of being a teacher at home and have the privilege of still having the same student with me. I mean to say that I have the opportunity to grow as a teacher alongside my student. I am living in a state of ongoing improvement, with enough time to reflect, reconcile, and reconstruct practically everything in our home learning, and with the knowledge that my most important student is able to reap the benefits of my experience.
I set out to write about a proud momma moment, actually, but the above thoughts came out first. The reason is that I am surprised to announce that I have already found days where I am so happy and thankful to be homeschooling. The moment of pride today came from R looking at candy prices in a store. She was dismayed to find that most impulse buys cost more than the pocket money she had earned (from learning phonics and letter sounds!). Her resolution, however, was to save up so that she could buy the things she wanted. My heart swelled.
We had started that morning on a rough note. The previous day, I had been upset multiple times, being shouty about her poor eating habits (and honestly, I was angry at myself for clearly being the problem, not feeding her well enough, adding too much pressure at mealtimes, etc. etc.). In an effort to recover, I stayed up late into the night (a poor choice because lack of discipline drove me rather than anything beneficial). The next morning was as you might expect: lack of energy and a dread that today would be just as awful as yesterday because I had made the poor choice of little sleep.
I cried. And as I cried, R clambered on up beside me in bed, stroked my hair, kissed my forehead, and cuddled my head with an encouraging smile on her still chubby preschooler face. I learn more about the grace of God every day through my child.
The cry and cuddles (and lots of internal prayer) helped. And then off we went: waffles, a phonics game, skip counting with nickels, a walk to the nearby shops, and R’s wonderful moment of making her very first purchase with her very own earnings. To top everything off, the lady who rung her up was one of her biggest fans. She came around the counter to present R with “Your receipt, madam,” and off R went, out the door, ready to bike back home to enjoy the treat she had purchased.
The week has been long and full and my heart is fuller still.