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Motherhood Self

The Hardest Part of Homeschool

Hardest part of Homeschool

Oh homeschool. Can I be honest here amongst friends and sisters? You know, in the spirit of transparency and sharing the mess in between cute Instagram photos and stories of grandeur? While I love the idea, rationale, and even the necessity of homeschool (especially when it comes to raising free black children), I feel very uncertain that I’m cut out for such a task…and maybe even more uncertain that I’m up for the job.

You see, it’s not the homeschooling part that alludes me. It’s the deschooling or unschooling that I find myself having to do when it comes to MY OWN way of thinking that has me feeling so unbalanced and unprepared. It seems as if every other day, I find myself examining traditional “truths” regarding education and learning (among other things) that I’ve held for so long. The hardest part of homeschool is seeing those things through a new lens which is at best unnerving, at worst defeating.

Do you know how unsettling it feels to lead your children’s learning when you feel you have so much unlearning and relearning to do yourself?

Hardest Part of Homeschool Tweet

The more I pay attention, the more I see so many ways that traditional school is failing us (and our black children) and that terrifies me. Mainly because there are so many too many children who will never get a chance. And partly because, I’m still trying to decide if homeschooling is something we want (or can) pursue long term–which is a different story for a different day.

We’re still finding our way with our youngest, still allowing him the space to explore and it’s been a beautiful process to be a part of. He’s brilliant and creative and most importantly, free. If only it could remain as carefree and simple as it feels most days with a 5 year old. Learning side by side, hand in hand with him doesn’t feel so daunting.

But those heavy feelings find me with my third grader who has now solidly voiced his preference to homeschool next year and me agreeing with each and every reason he has to feel to this way. Not to mention the laundry list of reasons I have myself. And they get comfortable when experiencing a particularly tough seventh grade year for my oldest in an evaluation heavy (and disgustingly failing) system.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out.

Essentially, I still have lots of learning to do and that’s the hardest part of homeschool. The overwhelming part. The part that leaves me feeling like, somebody may be more equipped for the job. But with my options looking slim in the realms of traditional education…most days I’m left feeling like there is no right or easy choice. And yet, it’s still one that will have to be made.

My hope is to find balance in the next few months. In communities here in my city, in possible co-ops to share the learning (and unlearning), in personal growth and discovery. In the meantime, I’ll continue to share the cute photos of black boys with books and figuring out the hardest part of homeschool with you. ~xoxo


Most Sundays I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. WELL SPENT is part things I’ve come across that inspire me, things I think might resonate with you, and a lesson from the journey.



Motherhood

September Homeschool Recap

September Homeschool Recap

With the first month of homeschool pre-k 2017 behind us, I thought it’d be a good time to share what’s been going on in our journey. The universe is doing that thing where, now that I’m focused on something, I see it everywhere. Before I started really thinking about homeschool, I didn’t really see any black representation in this space or even many black families with interest. Now though, it seems like everywhere I turn the black homeschool/unschool conversation is being had. It’s beautiful and inspiring. Helpful and hopeful.

Even though we aren’t sure where this journey will take us this year, I felt compelled to join the conversation. To share our perspective of newbies–for real–what’s been working, what hasn’t, resources we’re using and loving, and things we’re looking forward to in the month ahead.

I’ll start by saying that, this month didn’t go at all as planned. About halfway through September, I wound up taking an on location contract assignment (I’m sharing some real life revelations in this week’s newsletter about that experience. It’s a good one.) unexpectedly that left the hubs in charge of homeschooling the majority of the month. I had barely gotten an idea of how I wanted to structure our days and lessons so things were a little chaotic. That’s definitely the scale of homeschooling. Flexible enough to adjust to the flow of life but, when you’re caught in the ebb, it’s still your job to ensure the learning continues.

Even with the unexpected teacher switch, I think the month went well.

REFLECT | I find myself still struggling with releasing my expectations and ideas about the way a child “should” learn. Some programming is hard to break and I’ll admit it’s been difficult giving Jr. space to learn in his own way instead of enforcing rigid rules and structures–which doesn’t work for him and exactly why we wanted to explore homeschool in the first place. He’s been working on sight words and reading many short sentences. It’s been fascinating to watch him discover words he recognizes in the midst of short stories. Seeing his mind work out that he knows a few words on a page has been nothing short of magical but I had some concerns about letter recognition. Certain letters he isn’t able to recognize–I think because I’ve also heard him randomly identify them at other times–and I was feeling a bit stressed. And then I read something, totally unrelated to homeschooling that put my mind at ease a bit.

Jr. thinks differently and I don’t want to stifle his creativity. He’s reading and I’m excited for that and we’ll continue to do so. I can’t wait to see him work his way through his first book. In the meantime, I’ll do some research on letter recognition and find out how to help him…or not…and take it from there.

LOOK FORWARD | Perhaps the funniest moment this month was while we were out exploring,  Jr. held out his hand (a closed fist) to give me a surprise. I should have known better than to take “surprises” from a sneaky faced four year old boy. It was a worm. I then took notice of his interest in different insects we found along our nature walks. Caterpillars, worms, ants, and even slugs (shudder). This is definitely NOT my forte but one thing I really wanted to focus on during this homeschool journey was paying attention to the things Jr. is naturally interested in and finding new ways to explore them. Since he’s seems to really love being in nature and inspecting insects I researched ways for him to “dig deeper”. I found a really cool organization here in Philly called NaturePHL that offers environmental playdates for free! Excited to spend a few afternoons exploring this month before it gets too cold.

SEPTEMBER HOMESCHOOL RESOURCES

Y’all know how I feel about sharing good things, so I put together this list of all the resources we’ve come across this month that we’ve enjoyed. Pass them along if you know a homeschooling family who’d be interested!


Every Sunday I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. WELL SPENT is part things I’ve come across that inspire me, things I think might resonate with you, and a lesson from the journey.



Motherhood

Considering Homeschool

Considering Homeschool
I’ve been thinking about homeschool since we moved to the city. Coming from a suburban district into a financially strapped urban district has been quite the experience. I have gone through every emotion from anger, to sadness, to frustration, to disgust, to resolve, to determined and back around again. It’s mind blowing and heartbreaking and blood boiling, truly, to see the disparities between the two so up close and personal like this. And it’s super discouraging to not see a light at the end of the tunnel or a way to really set things right. From the moment I had my first encounter with the school district, my mind has wandered into the realms of homeschool.

And let me be clear, it’s not just this particular district that has me rethinking everything I’ve learned about school and education. It’s definitely been a combination of things that have pushed me towards this consideration, our current public school experience being the lightbulb that set off all the other thoughts. Coming here, I was forced to become more active in my kids schooling than ever before. Whereas in our other district, along with working full time, less flexibility, and having a different mindset and outlook on life in general, I took a much more relaxed approach. That not being an option anymore…combined with general life and soul awakenings, I’ve been able to see things through a different lens. And that lens has had me considering homeschool more and more.

What Homeschool Might Look Like for Our Family

One thing that I’ve been really intentional with is, instead of looking at it through a family lens, we focus on each child individually when it comes to the homeschool conversation. Especially with the two older boys solidly in school routines. I’ve been looking to them to see really what their needs are, their preferences, my abilities, and if homeschool would be a good option for them–my feelings on public school aside. I feel like, for our oldest son (N) who’s going into 7th grade, traditional school is best for him right now. For one, we’ve asked him and he heavily prefers traditional school. And two, his personality is such that works best with a lot of structure, routines, and explicit directions. He does really well in traditional school and we worked really hard to get him into a really good one in our city–even if it is 30 minutes away because our local middle school closed. Le sigh…

Our middle son (S) is going into the 3rd grade and I think he would do well with homeschool. For one, he’s told me he wanted to. His personality is super focused on whatever it is he’s feeling at the time and also he’s really good at just doing really good work and getting it done. He’s super independent, has crazy attention to detail, and is very vocal about his needs. He does exceptionally well in traditional school but, I do feel like with homeschool, he could really flourish. The thing is, I’m not even close to prepared to do so, there are many things I need to research to make sure I’m going about it in the right way (state laws and what not) AND I want to make sure I’m actually able to give him the support he needs for homeschool. I’ve decided to take this school year to prepare and educate myself and revisit the discussion in late winter/early spring. I’m heavily involved in his school, current President of the parent organization, and have done a great job supporting and supplementing so far. We’ll continue on that path…for now.

And Jr. Our wildcard. He’s of pre-K age and only attended a few months of a preschool program last year. He wasn’t a fan. He’s almost 5–in October–and is extremely smart. He’s also really creative, free spirited, and isn’t really a structured, routine kind of kid. This is a probably just a result of his life experience so far. At just months old he was traveling the east coast to see Daddy perform, attending hip hop classes by one year old, and performing on stages and in shows by two. He’s been surrounded by the arts and exploration his whole life so the traditional school classroom is sort of a struggle for him. And I don’t want learning to be a struggle. Especially because he’s so bright. Case in point, last year, I tried the traditional sit here for 15 minutes let’s go over these words approach to reading that they teach in you in school. It was a battle every minute. This year, after seeing how much he loved Pokemon cards (shout out to the big bros) and how he’ll carry them around with him wherever he goes, I bought flash cards to go over his sight words. SUCCESS. He’s reading 10 – 15 sight words on his own and we really just started. And yes, he takes them with him and practices wherever he goes. We’ll be doing homeschool pre-K for Jr this year.

I’m using this time while there are still no real restraints or rules, to really figure out homeschool. To find the co-ops in our area. To get familiar with the resources. To see what works and what doesn’t. To research curriculums and all of that good stuff. By next year when we have to fill out the paperwork that either enrolls him or opts them (Jr. and S) out…I’ll be ready. ~xoxo


Every Sunday I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. WELL SPENT is part things I’ve come across that inspire me and things I think might resonate with you.