We've homeschooled for over 2 decades and in that amount of time we've met every kind of homeschooler imaginable. Those with profoundly gifted and profoundly challenged kids, those who are fabulously wealthy and those hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Those with lots of degrees and those with none. Those who are secure in their ability to homeschool and those who are terrified- you get the picture.
Out of all of those people, the common denominator between families with kids who are educated and trained and those who are not is this
1 simple thing.
Parents who show up interact with their kids, they get the curriculum out and do it, they show them stuff outside and in books and on web-sites, they take walks and work out together, they share their faith and quiz them, and even test them. They talk and pray with them, support their interests, read together and out-loud, talk about bugs and books and even sex, politics and religion.
They have standards.
They are engaged.
They are directive.
They provide the materials, and the time, the space and the place.
They are intentional about the task of education.
This is wholly different than the task of researching curriculum, or making a cleaning schedule, or listing everything you hope to get done. I had a homeschooling friend whose planning could have gone pro. She had color-coordinated binders and clips and alpha filed printables- all for one kid. But she never got past the planning stage.
Education requires time on task. Engagement. Energy. Effort, on the part of the Educator.
Homeschooling Parent- that would be YOU.
The reality is that there are seasons where it's difficult to get to everything you planned done, or even the basics. But there are lots of things you still CAN do- CD's, DVD's, computer classes (Schoolhouse Teachers offers tons of great classes for pennies a day), on-line classes, tutoring, co-ops. Make use of your resources, even if you are partly out of commission, have a sick baby, are fighting illness or have just suffered a crisis.
Because if you have decided to homeschool, you have a JOB to do.
The Nitty Gritty?
Do your job.
Doing nothing is NOT "still better than what your kids are getting in public school."
Doing nothing does not prepare your kids.
Letting children run their own lives leaves them hanging at a time in their life when they need mentored, directed, guided, taught the times-table and how to know that they know.
This has nothing to do with methodology or money or curriculum or lack of curriculum.
Showing up transcends your age, their age, curriculum, methodology, economic privilege, academic status.
It's what YOUR kids need from YOU.
I think a lot of homeschooling parents want something more than a boxed education for their kids. But, they get their kids home and the reality of another Big Job (which homeschooling really, really is) hits and it can be overwhelming. So, what's a Mom (or Dad) to do?
Be an Ed Hacker. Think outside the box and get creative and create something more and less and altogether unique to you, your kids and your family. Dream big. Start small. Be faithful. Be consistent. Be clear about what you want for your kids. Organize your hopes and dreams from the top down (Covey) and create a Vision and Mission statement. Then organize from the bottom up (Allen) and list every detail you can think of. One of the biggest lessons I really, I mean really, got a hold of from the fire re-build project is this: Setting up is often 50% or more of whatever you are doing. The doing is really only 10-20% of whatever you are doing and the clean up is often 10-30%. The set-up and clean up almost always take more time than the actual doing. Homeschooling is really no different. Do yourself a favor and don't skimp on what you need so that you can show up to homeschool.