Of all the things a homeschooling mama hears from other mamas (and teachers and grandparents and cashiers at the gas station), the most common sentence of all has to be: “I could never do it.”
Depending on the tenor of who’s speaking and depending on my own mood when I hear it, that sentence can carry various meanings... Statement of fact: “I couldn't homeschool because I am the kind of person who is most comfortable with a trained teacher teaching my kids.”Or compliment: “You are made of sterner stuff than I, young’un.” Or insult: “What are you stupid? Taking your child’s education into your own hands like that?”
This last inflection is the one I hear on my worst days. “Could never” is amplified and mixed like a fever chant with my own misgivings because, like most thoughtful homeschooling parents, I have my doubts. And I cling to them. I can't help but think my doubts are the catalyst that will make me do a better job for my children.
Here’s a typical doubt groove in my mind: Are they where they need to be with geography (or math or grammar: pick your worry)? Better check. Google. Tap, tap, tap. Oooh, look at this amazing website! So the kids spend an hour absorbedly practicing their math facts on FreeRice.com. They earn 20,000 grains of rice for the UN World Food Program. They switch to practicing vocabulary words and earn some more rice. Later, as we eat our own supper, we talk about efforts to end world hunger. We talk about where the problem is most severe and why...and we're back to geography but in a deeply meaningful way: Where do other people live and what are their lives like?
On days when I don’t have the major doubts that send me to Google, I have the lesser kind, the daily kind. For these I have the daily solutions, the little things that remind me that my children are where they should be, learning the way they learn best. They get enough sleep. They read to their hearts' contents. They are rich in time to play. Each can follow her curiosity wherever it leads. The best reminder for me of why we homeschool is watching their feet while they are learning.
Just look at these feet. Don’t they look happy? The kids attached to them look happy too: rapt, engaged, tickled pink by discovery.