How Do You Homeschool? First, An Analogy

It’s a question that I get asked often enough that I wish I had a snappy answer. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog is because I am asked that question so much, usually by parents new to or considering homeschooling. It is not an easy question to answer; I don’t have a short answer. I’d like to start answering, though, by using an analogy.

My kids are like growing plants. When they were little sprouts, they needed most of my time and attention. Now that they have grown bigger, it is my job to keep away the weeds and pests while providing the sunshine, nourishment and other beneficial things that they need.

What is considered a weed or pest will vary by home. In my home, for example, I keep away time-consuming distractions like television and video games. I understand that other families find these things enjoyable and worthwhile or at least acceptable at certain levels, but this is the choice I have made and it is working well for us. Unhealthy relationships definitely fall into the pest category.

The sunshine and nourishment of my plant analogy include basic things like good sleep and healthy food, two necessities that I see as HUGE yet often-overlooked benefits of homeschooling (my daughter REALLY needs sleep in the morning and is still asleep when the bus goes past our house). My nosy son who was just looking over my shoulder asked me to include playing outside. He says that has ‘changed’ him the most. Healthy community connections, as well as personal safety, are worth mentioning as two more basic needs, as many children in our world struggle to just safely survive.

Other beneficial things are the things we seek from outside our home, such as good books, useful resources, helpful people, interesting activities and outings, community classes, and healthy friendships (hey, we’re not really plants here!). We are proud to be some of the most frequent users of our local library!

Healthy family relationships rank high in the ‘beneficial’ category. My relationship with my children is the foundation of my homeschooling. If, for whatever reason, my relationship with one of my children became so difficult that I felt it would improve if I did not homeschool, then I might try public school for that child. Our relationship is more important than anything else. Given our personalities, open communication, my expectations, and the way I homeschool (more on that in a later post), I don’t foresee that happening, but I think it is important to be open to the possibility. I know people that have taken this route and it has been good for the whole family.

I see there is nothing in this post about homeschooling methods or curriculum.  That’s because, in my family, those things are least important.  My parenting style and homeschooling style are inseparably interwoven, but that discussion goes beyond my analogy. I’ll have more to say on that later. But I wanted to start here – I like my little plant analogy. What do you think? What would you add to this?

2 thoughts on “How Do You Homeschool? First, An Analogy

  1. I do like your plant analogy, Kim.

    I think I would add that when we are given a learning child that child would be like buying a seed packet without any knowledge about that seed. We love and watch them grow. We respond to their needs. We add to their experiences. We prepare their “soil” or environment.

    Sometimes it may be a guessing game as to what each particular child may need. Is that child a vine, twisting and turning, finding supports wherever they may grow? Does this child need to develop a secure root base like a sturdy tree before truly branching out? The comparisons are endless.

    As parents we do our best to provide what we hope is best for each child. We may stumble a bit, try the “wrong approach,” take a few steps backwards to reassess and then move forward again. I believe when you begin homeschooling you learn, listen, and think about all the possibilities out there. You will go through periods of self-doubt or apprehension. Children can be amazingly resilient creatures. Don’t beat yourself up over struggling to find what works for each child. That is one of the beauties of homeschooling – having that opportunity to be able to experiment, to include your child in figuring out what works and what doesn’t, realizing how that can change as your child grows and being able to make those adjustments.

    • Lenore,
      I love your ideas. Now I am imagining a child as a seed we are given but not told what kind of plant it will grow into. That is a great way to think about kids. What each child needs is different and yet we don’t know in advance what those needs are. We just figure it out as we go and, yes, we are less than perfect. “Don’t beat yourself up” is probably about the best advice we can give to any parent! And I love how you refer to including a child in figuring out what works as an ‘opportunity’. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience with us.

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