I referred to this in my last post about homeschooling struggles, but I wanted to expand on this a bit here: the homeschooling kiss of death. Actually, I think there are three possible kisses of death in our homeschooling experience.
I think the first one is to spend inordinate amounts of time looking at people’s blogs. You all know how I feel about this if you have read this blog for any length of time, and my feelings are largely related to why I don’t post many pictures on here. Those perfect mothers with those bloggable moments are just normal mothers like you and like me. They have captured beautiful moments in their families and homeschooling experiences; there is nothing wrong with that except when you take those moments and compare their best moments against your weakest ones and then feel badly about that. I also think spending time on many different blogs for hours on end is a kiss of death to homeschooling because it most likely is not helping you plan and is in fact keeping you from it. If you get all distracted and make things too complex, this is a kiss of death to your homeschooling experience. Homeschooling is first and foremost about relationships within the family; for me it is also about God and instilling a passion in my children for Him, and I think homeschooling is also about passing down wisdom, both academic and practical, so please do keep it simple enough that these goals are ever-present and shining.
Sit down with your computer or your planning book and plan, but don’t get on the Internet unless there is something very specific you are searching for to fill in a specific spot in your plan. Plan with your children, your family, your situation and dynamics in mind. That is who you are homeschooling, that is why you are homeschooling and that is why other people’s experiences matter a whole lot less than what happens between your own walls at home.
The second kiss of death is to pick a method of homeschooling or a curriculum because that is what all your friends are using. Again, you must plan for your own family and your unique individual children. The worst thing you can possibly do is to pick things based upon what all your friends are using or doing. If you are dependent upon your peers in order to pick a homeschooling method or curriculum, then your homeschooling experience will suffer. Homeschooling, to me, is first and foremost about looking into your own heart and seeing what resonates with you.
For example, my life might be easier if I adored Charlotte Mason. Everyone loves her, lots of Christian families use Charlotte Mason, and then I could use fun words like “twaddle”. Who doesn’t want to say twaddle? (And P.S. I do have my tongue in my cheek a bit here, so please don’t be offended if you use Charlotte Mason! ) But, I would not be true to my love of bringing in different layers of things at different ages, teaching through art, looking at the big picture of health, the focus on the whole holistic human being that I find so strongly resonates with me in Waldorf Education. So I am quite happy to stick with being me, and take the things that resonate with me. It is authentic and real that way! Be authentic and real to yourself, know yourself, know when you are being called to something or conversely when you are being called to change gears in your schooling.
The third kiss of death is to think that all homeschool experiences will look the same even if you use the same method or curriculum as your neighbor. My homeschool will look different than other Waldorf homeschoolers’ experiences. I have a lot of focus on religion, I love to sing and create music and draw and paint and model and garden and cook; I am not the best at handwork. We all have different areas of strength and weakness, just like a public school teacher or a Waldorf School teacher does. Again, we cannot all be the same! Bring the things that make you you into your homeschool, keep striving in the other important areas and be happy.
Because, sometimes the thing we most forget is that we are so lucky to be home with our children, that children are learning and growing all the time, and that first and foremost is being together in love. That is the essence of the homeschool experience. I have heard a saying that the first icon, the first picture of God, that a child sees is the face of his or her parents. Let us be blessed together and have fun!
Many blessings and much joy,