As I continue to figure out what this homeschooling thing looks like for us as a family, and as I figure out what I believe about education for our children and what that looks like for me as their ‘teacher’, a thought has niggled at me…
In my earnest desire to be a ‘good’ homeschool mother, and as I have pursued this new part of our lives with vigour, I have forgotten something far more important than curriculum, or philosophy, or co-op’s, or our daily routine. As I look around in real life and meet new friends online, I wonder if many of us have forgotten it too.
In my homeschool-earnestness, what have I forgotten?
I have forgotten that I am my children’s mother.
I believe that the most essential thing that we, as home educators, must never forget – but which we do, easily – is that, before all other things, we are mothers.
I think this is easy to forget this because we are all eager and earnest and jump into homeschooling guns ablaze. This isn’t a bad thing – we need to be this earnest. By choosing to swim against stream, we need to believe deeply in what we are doing and how we are doing this – because it is different, it is hard, and it is a responsibility we by no means take lightly.
So, we read all our books and blogs and educational tomes. We follow inspiring mamas all over the internet. We implement practices that speak to us. And this is all good, and true, and beautiful! This earnestness is what gets us through each day.
But – and we do really need to stop and think about this – when we’re starting our day, pulling out our planner, and seeing all the boxes we want ticked by lunch, are we approaching our children as their mother or their teacher?
I am realising this: I am not their teacher.
I am not their educator, or facilitator, or any other form of imparter-of-knowledge. These may be things that I do for my children as part of our learning life at home – but they ought not be what defines my relationship with my children.
And now, children are pushed and pulled, tested way too early, expected to perform well for the sake of the mama’s self image and developing anxiety at far too early of an age. Sally Clarkson, Give Your Children the Gift of Loving Who They Are
And this is what I am learning: one day, when my work as an active parent is done, what will really matter? Will it be the curriculum’s we finished, or the list of books we read aloud, or that we followed Classical education to a ‘T’? Will it be that our children got into university, or that they graduated school at fifteen?
No, of course not. What matters will be the condition of the relationship my children have with me, their mother. Not me, as their teacher, but as their mother.
So, ultimately, our relationship is the highest priority for every single day of our homeschooling life together.
Perhaps this is why unschooling, or whole-life homeschooling (as a friend and I penned it), drew me in. When I try and do homeschool any other way (even in a lovely way, like Charlotte Mason), I end up treating my children like students and not my little ones.
Instead, when I see them – not only as my children – but as unique, respect-worthy people, with their own timetables of learning and interests and passions, my entire mindset in our days change. I remain Mama. There is no drill-sergeant in the house. There is (mostly) joy, rest, slow, calm, and appreciation between us (mostly, again – we’re not perfect!).
When I am Mama, and my children are children, homeschooling is a joy. So, if there has been strife, or dreariness in your home lately, could this be why? How do your children see you? And, more importantly, how do you see your children?