Once we decided that we were going to homeschool, I experienced a flood of euphoria followed directly by a flood of panic. Jumping in with both feet can be pretty frightening, even when you are confident in your decision. When I enter “panic mode,” I tend to go into an extended phase of frantic information-gathering. I feel that if I just read ALL THE THINGS I’ll be able to marinate in juicy buzzwords and educational philosophies and points of view until all the best pieces come together and yield a magical clarity that I can use to soothe my tortured soul.
Let me tell you what actually happened- I read and reread and read some more. I ordered books, checked out books, and slept with books in my bed. All the philosophies I was researching took on their own personas and began critiquing all my decisions from inside my own head until I was too paralyzed to move in a single direction. Never mind that I have been working with and studying children from a developmental perspective for over a decade, that I’ve been a preschool teacher, and most importantly, that I know how children learn. Who am I to argue with Malaguzzi, Montessori, Steiner?
So, faced with the looming school year and a mountain of indecision, what did I do?
Took a vacation, naturally.
I went with my family to a little cabin tucked away on the Frio River and let that cold, clear water work its magic for a whole week. I took two books instead of thirty and left the laptop at home. Something about just stepping back from all the voices and reconnecting with the family that was right in front of me was hugely restorative.
I looked at my children’s eager faces as we swam, fished, explored the river bottom, and made a thousand breathless discoveries. I noticed what was important to them and us instead of what might be important to the founder of a famous school or educational approach that we’ve never met, that has no idea who we are or what we value.
And when we got home, I took a deep breath, steadied myself, and jumped with both feet into finding our homeschool identity. I’ll be sharing the steps of my process in this series, so if you are in the beginning stages of your own homeschool journey, I hope you’ll find it useful.