Dear Homeschool Mom (talking to myself again): It's time. Be it kindergarten or middle school or the last year of high school (are you CRAZY?), it's time to begin.
I just need to warn you about a few things.
I know you're nervous/scared/intimidated/overwhelmed. I know your dreams are sometimes fogged with books and schedules. I know your stack of reading material has been mostly school-related this summer, that you're tired but excited, that your husband/friends/neighbors are a little worried about you.
I need to warn you about the things that will creep in this year.
1. There will be gaps in their education, and you just need to come to terms with it.
You worry that they won't get everything they're "supposed" to get. They won't know all the things their not-homeschooled-peers know. You fear those gaps in their knowledge as if they were actual holes you all could fall into - swallowed up in another failed experiment where you thought you could actually teach your children yourself.
Do you realize how much there is to know? Do you realize how infinite God is and how many areas of His creation are inexhaustibly discoverable?
If there were no gaps in our education, what would be left for us to discover? What would we find difficult and challenging, and what would grow us?
If we all came out of 12th grade with no gaps in our learning, we would have nothing to share with one another, nothing to pursue, nothing to motivate us to continue our education - college or not.
What are the most important things for your children to know? Give them skills this year, tools that they can reach for when they come across some unknown thing. Give them a foundation for success by focusing on quality, not quantity.
Teach them a few things, well.
Don't worry about gaps. Worry about being afraid of not having answers. Worry about losing the desire to ask questions. Worry about being the know-it-alls who are so puffed up with their own knowledge that they have no room for wonder.
Scratch that. Don't worry at all. Prepare and pray. Keep learning, yourself. Model learning for your family and they will follow suit.
2. Your schedule will not cooperate. Your tidy schedule that you made this summer is full of obstinance and pushy-nonessentials that poke at the edges of your spreadsheet. Push, stretch, and soon your well-ordered day has grown to epic proportions.
Trim it down, cut it into size and master those margins because busy-ness and martyr-mom are not medals to wear or crosses to bear. They are leaches to suck the life out of your efforts.
This applies to all of us - homeschoolers or not. On paper we are superheroes who can fill every 1/2 hour slot with notable achievements. We forget about all the milk splashing on the floor and the dog going crazy at the UPS man (bringing more books!) and the phone calls from desperate friends or husbands needing favors.
We forget to leave room for God to readjust our day. Or we forget and leave too much room for others to readjust our day.
Remember: people will think that "we homeschool" means "of course we're available because we're not doing anything anyway". Guard your schedule and open your door to only the highest priorities.
3. It won't look like the fairy tale you imagine in your head - everyone happily and eagerly gathered for a great day of learning.
Your children are scattered, literally, across all four corners of your house/property/neighborhood and you're that mom hollering for them to come home. You're the only mom hollering this time of day, actually, because the neighbors are sensible and sent their kids to school this morning...
Don't spend long on that thought.
It won't be textbook or fairytale or Little Homeschool on the Prairie, at least not everyday.
You ought to stop reading those homeschool blogs if you find yourself wondering, what would so-and-so do in this situation, or, I'll bet so-and-so's children would be doing x right now. I'll bet her house is clean, she knows what's for dinner, her laundry is neatly folded and put away, and she's enjoying The Iliad with her scad of sponge-like children...
You can stop that kind of thinking, too.
You live in a beautiful reality and have been given a beautiful grace that is better than any fairytale.
May His grace sustain you on those days. May you more fully appreciate the ups and downs of your life. May you and your children know God better this year because of His infinite goodness that is beyond finding out - but you keep searching it anyway.
Press on, mom.