Before I start, I would like to say this is written from my own experiences and my own observations. I am sharing it in the hope that it will be helpful to people and encouraging for home educators out there that may or may not have support; I hope it will be a comfort to those who feel they are the only ones going through this when they are not, especially those who are new to home educate.
I think most home educators have heard of this one: the wobble. What I have not heard of is of a home educator who has not being through one. I call it 'the wobble' because that is what I have heard it referred to as many times in the world of home education. It's where you teeter on the edge of feeling like your failing, left feeling like nothing is working; it's where you worry the kids aren't actually learning enough or they are always fighting. You might even get upset with how you handle things, shouting or saying things you don't really mean, you may even thow in the 'you're going to have to go to school' line in. This is all very normal from time to time for the home educator. In fact it is more to do with parenting that home educating but when home educating it is easy to put the blame on that especially if you are at the beginning of your journey and are having battles with others about your choice to home educate.
At the end of the day we care about our children, we want the very best for them and the last thing any parent wants to do is let our children down - we, the parent, can be our worst critic, our biggest enemy.
The thing is, even in life in general, no matter what route you take - whether it be: school or home education and if home education: autonomous, structured or semi-structured - the bad days, or more to the point days with bad moments, always seem magnified. I don't know why but we focus on the bad things rather than the good (well, I certainly do) when these bad moments happen I forget all the wonderful moments we've had. I don't know about you but when there is a wobble in the day I get cross with myself and if I don't get out of the house quick enough my anger (hangs head in shame) has been aimed at the wrong people before (my children and husband). I am only human please don't judge me.
I am pleased to say that these days I find I have very few days like this now, certainly compared to a few years ago. What has changed? I think it helps me having this blog; I think having a log that shows us really how much we have done (whether it be on paper or not), that tells me that these moments are simply moments in my day not a big black day. I think it has taught me that it's ok to have a break when things aren't working; to have a break or try something different can ease the tension.
I used to panic so much about whether I was getting enough done. I certainly don't panic like I did with Chiara, worrying how I was going to teach her everything she needs to know before she's 18 - some of you may laugh but I can't be the only one who had waves of anxiety in my first steps of choosing to home educate, can I?- it's difficult to see sometimes how quickly your children are learning and in our house, probably because we home educate, it is so rich with learning resources and because I teach a very small group or even one on one they learn so much in ten minutes, probably what they'd get done in a whole lesson in a school. I am not attacking teachers, I am simply saying that the smaller the class the more efficient the learning.
Then there is all the learning they do for themselves. This type of learning they rarely forget because they have researched it for themselves. There are also all the lessons the older children give the younger children off their own back. Sorry if I'm waffling a bit now but I don't know if I ever would have noticed without writing this blog that all this happens. I suppose even if I'd kept a log, a diary it would have helped but I do like to waffle on so here I am! All the trips to museums, parks, forests, beaches, art galleries, parks etc. should not be forgotten either: all these places are rich in educational value.
Another thing that writing my blog has taught me is: children are children. They have their squabbles, which half the time should be ignored (in my opinion) unless of course you have physical or emotional damage happening/about to happen that is of course. Children will try your patience whether after school or all day long while being educated along side mum too. Most of the time it is not meant; children like adults usually have some reason for being in a bad mood and it is not that they are being horrible for the sake of it, who wants to be miserable? I have learnt that children want to please their parents and if they are behaving badly it is most of the time due to them being under the weather, tired or in need of some exercise or simply frustration. It can be like trying to crack code to work this out and when a parent gets things wrong children will forgive them and we can learn from the bad moments move on and forgetting the bad rather than punishing ourselves which leads to punishing those around us we can make things better.
I also find being a busy mum I often don't realise I'm grumpy because I'm under the weather myself, I quite often realise too late. All these down moments happen, these moments that can make us wobble, but with support from fellow home educators really does help as we have all been there.
When I had my super bad days I try to plan really great days after. Life is a roller coaster after all and it puts the whole family in high spirits. It doesn't have to be expensive either. Children love going to the museum or the park. Ok, we often go to the park but on special days we'll choose a different park or explore another area of our park. Anything to break the moody cycle really.
The thing is to remember I think is parenting is always going to have its bumps and home education doesn't change that. No one has the perfect answers to everything because all parents are different and all children are different and in home education this is no different. We home educators also have to remember: we all have different learning styles, we all have different views on how to educate and to allow each other space, parent and child as well as sibling space, even if it's just being in a different room.
Chiara has her drama classes because she wanted her own thing. Harmonie is often in the 'happy learning room' busy doing her own thing, Naomi and her drawings, Honi, much like her mother, playing on her computer.