You might be wondering, “Is this the article in which she will tell me what curriculum to use?” Not yet, but WAIT! I promise you that if you do these foundational steps, choosing the right curriculum will be SOOOOO much easier.
Hopefully you read my first two blogs in the “Getting Started in Homeschool” series which introduced some foundational principles for how to set up your homeschooling experience for success. I highlighted the importance of familiarizing yourself with the homeschool law for your state, and with being able to recognize and articulate your vision for homeschooling—in other words—why you are doing it, what your desired outcomes are, the values that shape how you do what you do, and how using SMART goals can help you take steps to get there.
In this blog, I will talk about something that is SO important, that I believe skipping these steps would be like trying to drive a car without a power source! If you take the ideas proposed in this blog to heart, I strongly believe that your chances for a satisfying, meaningful, and enjoyable homeschool experience with your children will be greatly increased.
The secret ingredient to a meaningful homeschool experience is to know yourself and know your children.
I once thought I knew myself, but then learned that I knew more about who I thought I should be than who I really was. The reason for this is because I believed a lot of lies about my potential. You see, I grew up being told I could do anything I wanted to do, as long as I worked hard. I could be anybody I wanted to be, as long as I believed in myself. Well, everybody that said that meant well, but it is really just a BIG, FAT, LIE! I'm a human with limits, who is far from perfect, and who certainly isn't an expert in all things.
Chances are, you believe some lies about yourself, too, I mean, we all do, right? Let me give you some examples of what some of these lies might sound like:
*“If Suzi can bake and decorate a cake that looks like a 3D unicorn and tastes like heaven, I can too.”
* “If Lea can grow all of the food that she eats from a paradise-like garden in her own yard, I can too.”
* “If Jessica can be an inventor of a mult-million-dollar product, I can too.”
* “If Caroline can be a neurosurgeon, I can too.”
* “If Renada can homeschool 4 children and create her own curriculum and build a montessori-like classroom in her basement with a legit adventure nature center in her back yard, I can too.”
The truth is that Suzzy can bake but she could never be a neurosurgen. And Lea can garden but she would die if she tried to homeschool. And Jessica is a creative genius but lets her husband do all the cooking. And Renada, well, it seems like there is nothing she can't do, but we can't all be Renada, can we? ;-) Just because somebody else does something, doesn’t mean that we can, or that we should, try to take the same path.
I don’t know one human being that is amazing at everything. We are all different—and some of us very different. And that’s just how it should be. It’s a reason why diversity is a thing. And isn’t that a reason why so many of us homeschool? To create a customized learning experience that supports what makes our children unique? Well…then why do some of us buy into a “one-size-fits-all” paradigm when it comes to how we actually homeschool? I think that sometimes we think everybody else has it all together—and since we know that we clearly don’t—we try to follow others’ paths to find our success.
This is why you need to be in touch with the amazing, unique brand of a mama that you are. You do this thing from the place of "you being you"---and you will rock this. You try to emulate somebody else and disregard who you are in the process, then I’m afraid you are in for disappointment.
Know Your Child
Knowing yourself is half the battle. Designing learning opportunities with your child’s unique persona in mind is the other half.
The current educational model active in most schools caters to a very specific type of personality and learner. The student who can sit still for long periods of time, who is mostly an auditory learner, who is enough of an extrovert to work well in groups but enough of an introvert to not get distracted by his or her classmates, who can memorize things easily and is good at taking tests, who is a linear learner who moves at the same pace as the scope and sequence of the curriculum—this is the type of student who tends to excel in a public school setting.
But when we choose a program or join a co-op or use a curriculum that doesn’t align with our child’s personality, learning style, strengths, interests, and talents, we endorse the same “one-size-fits-all” type of learning that we are trying to get away from.
But how? What steps can I take to get a firm grasp on how my family's personalities, strengths, talents, learning styles, and interests inform our homeschool experience? I'm glad you asked! Because that is exactly what I will discuss in my next blog.
Stay tuned, and until next time, keep "doing you"!