It wasn’t until my firstborn, The Spudder, was 2 (and when we moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) that I started hearing anything substantial about the term and concept of ‘homeschool.’ It piqued my interest while simultaneously overwhelming me with the thought. I was intending to avoid further stress by leaving the teaching primarily to teachers when the time came, because who needs another basket of crazy in the circus?
Fast-forward two-and-a-half more years and I find myself wondering how I got myself into choosing homeschooling for this extroverted child of mine. Part of me screeches in my head, ‘What are you thinking?!’ while the other part of me says, ‘Well, what adventure are we embarking on this time?’ The thing is I’m still not sure if it’s the right fit for us but now, with one day before we start, I’m okay with this unsettled feeling; I’m open to change if this doesn’t fit with our family. But I’m going to go forward into this with as much gusto as I can manage with a 1 and 2 year-old in tow behind my Kindergartener.
In order of fetal-position inducing worry, these are my top 5 fears about starting homeschooling for the first time:
The bureaucracy will lead me to a slow and painful death
I cringe writing it and a voice in my head is sternly telling me, ‘Do not even get started on this topic!’ I know we can’t get away from bureaucracy whether in traditional school or homeschool, but ohmygoodness I want to throw a ribbon-tied box of sensibility at the people who run and monitor and register homeschooling in my province and school board. My first introduction to the bureau-CRAZY of homeschooling was finding out, by chance, that everything that I had read up on about registering was nearly completely inaccurate. Followed up by a school liasion who isn't in office during questioning period (AKA the summer) and a secret, in-the-know email group that can tell you everything about it, but only if you're already on this list, and I'm already nearly ready to let that fan full of doo-doo fly. If they’re looking to increase their traditional school numbers, they’re doing the right thing. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I’m stubborn. And not yet overwhelmed. (And whyyyyyyyyy can't they make it simple?!)
I’m not going to carve out the time needed to get through enough school work, especially with 2 younger kids in tow and being self-employed
In addition to my 5-year-old, I have also a 2-nearly-3-year-old and a 1-year-old. And there’s that pesky little small home-based business that I run and am planning on expanding. Have I not questioned my sanity yet in this article? Well it’s overdue – I question it regularly and often see it walk out the door. Even if I only had the younger kids, I’d still question my sanity in considering spending more enclosed time with them for school.
In discerning whether I would be able to do homeschooling or not, we went to the Kindergarten Information night at the school closest to us to find out what they were offering. Turns out, it looks pretty stellar. As far of my lack-of-experience goes, the kindergarten teacher seemed very competent and seemed very experienced in incorporating the children’s interests into school-work (for example, series of sessions on construction including learning measuring, some local geography, numbers, light addition, art, etc). Compared to what I’ll likely offer my son, I feel very incompetent. And yet I’ll offer a much different education than what would be offered in this school. And just because it’s not shiny doesn’t mean it’s bad.
I’m going to forget to teach him something important for his age group
While at the Kindergarten information night at the school, I decided to investigate what their curriculum might be for Kindergarten. The teacher shared with me that their end-goals for Kindergarten are pretty slim: basically it’s math and learning the numbers 1-10 very, very well. Apart from that it’s learning some letters and interest-based learning.
Well, I thought, that’s not so bad. I should be able to manage the numbers 1-10 at the very least, right? He already knows the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, though I’m hoping to do more with him this year. And yet I look at myself and think, ‘Boy, you sure sound cocky. Just wait until all this bites you in the butt.’ What can I do? I need to start with something so I’ll blindly stumble forward with what I have and wait for that 20/20 vision that comes at the end of the school year. And Pinterest. Cause if it's on Pinterest then we'll be sailing, right?
I’ll be too overwhelmed and lock myself in a closet with a bottle of wine
Well, to be honest, many days threaten this to happen anyway, especially during the Witching Hour before supper. Some days, I succumb. About two years ago I went through a period of near-depression from being overwhelmed over a number of things happening, and it wasn’t pretty. I remember being satisfied if I could make it with the kids not locked in their rooms before The Husband came home from work. I could barely get food on the table for lunch, let alone conceive of anything for supper. One night, I fed the kids popcorn for supper and had them watch a movie until bedtime and for me, that felt like an ultimate low.
So the thought of adding more work onto an already-full life does bring up this fear of overwhelming myself to the point of depression. And I truly have no idea what this year might bring. Keeping other tasks on the low (which I have been planning) is planned for this year. Engaging myself in tasks that bring me joy (like crafting and beer and wine making) is a good marker for how I’m doing. When I lose my joy in that, I’m in trouble. I do have a fear of being overwhelmed and I do fear having depression, but I won’t let the fear stop me from reasonably trying to do this. The benefits for our family are great and my fear could come to naught. It’s worth the risk of trying.
My son won’t learn well from me because I’m his Mom
It’s entirely possible that this will be true. In which case, we’ll re-evaluate at the end of the year whether it’s a good fit for us. It’s entirely possible that it will be false. He is still at an age where I know stuff. The magic of being an all-knowing mama hasn’t worn off with him yet, so I might have a head start this year. The thing is – I’ll be learning right along with him for much of what we get to study and explore this year. Some of the science we will be doing is due primarily to his interests (all things space), but it’s provoked an interest in me as well. I’m just as curious to see and learn with him on the matters that we discover together. I know that I don’t have all the answers. He doesn’t quite know that yet, but it’s a good introduction to hearing, ‘I don’t know the answer to that, but I bet we could learn about it together.’ I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully that, with guidance from different curricula, will be enough to satisfy him beyond me just being his mom and helping him learn.
Fears come from not knowing. Homeschooling is neither my background nor my husband’s. It is new waters that we are wading into here, and naming my fears is the beginning of overcoming them. I admit to myself and to the world: I don’t know if homeschooling will be right for us. But I am willing to commit to it this year to see if it’s a good fit and have some fun along the way, despite all my fears. I’ll surely be taking up Meg Matenaer’s suggestions and saying some fervent prayers for the intercession of St. Zita come September 1st. Prayers and chocolate. I shouldn't forget the chocolate. And neither should you.
What are you fearing this new school year?
Copyright 2015 Jane Korvemaker
About the Author
Jane Korvemaker loves food, family, wine, and God (perhaps not in that order). She holds a Certificate in Culinary Arts, which pairs perfectly with her Bachelor in Theology. A former Coordinator of Youth Ministry, she writes from the beautiful and cold province of Saskatchewan, Canada. She works from home and takes care of her three very hard-working children. Jane regularly blogs at AJK2.ca.