With lots of exciting travels coming up for our family in the coming months, I was thisclose to making each outing an educational adventure.
And then I realized that’s probably the best way to ruin the fun and make learning a chore instead of organic and amazing. And I also had an uncomfortable realization about all of it too. One that many of you will likely relate to and not want to admit . . .
Entering Exaggeration Station
“Hi, I’m a homeschool mom and here are the many ways my child learns about the world!” - that’s me online many days. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think it’s important to dispel myths around “all homeschoolers stuck at home reading the Bible” and doing little else. But I also think we get carried away with it. I know I have in the past.
Homeschool parents, be honest: Have you ever posted a glowing review of a field trip or activity as some fantastically educational event, when it could better be described as a day of socializing with a side of STEM? Or best described as “aimless wandering around a place where we took some cool pics” as nothing truly transformative, from an educational standpoint, occurred? And by this, I mean kids didn’t pick up an iota of info from the tour guide, but they had lots of laughs? It happens. You know it, I know it - but we don’t post it. We share the location’s educational blurb and play pretend.
But that’s not even the uncomfortable part!
Making It About Me
I want people to appreciate homeschooling. To understand the potential if offers kids, and especially what it offers my child. I want them to know that he’s learning so much about the world, just differently. I want it so badly. See that? It’s what I want. It’s not really about him.
And as much as he’s learning non-traditionally and he IS learning so much, I feel the need to wrap it up in traditional terms, tie it with a big bright bow and share it. To prove it. And validate it, I guess. But not really that, as I don’t seek approval from folks, but do find myself trying too hard for acceptance, I think. Making it all razzle dazzle, all the time, when it’s actually just a plain old, less than amazing day.
Here’s why: every day IS amazing. Having the ability to live this homeschooling life - and live it well - is not the norm. And when you operate outside of the norm - any norm - you seek understanding from those who may possibly (most likely) misunderstand what you’re all about.
But do I want them to think every day is amazing? That homeschooling is entirely out of their reach unless they do amazing things too? Or that their homeschooling experience is somehow less? Or that I’m just full of crap, which I kind of am, considering? No to all.
Which brings me back to the beginning . . .
Homeschooling Is Anything But Traditional
We all know that learning happens best when it isn’t forced and is interest-based. So, why in the name of insanity would I restrict our adventures to whatever traditional parameters as we travel or go to events? And why would I promote that idea to others when I disagree with it? The only reason I can think of is to feed the acceptance monster.
So I”m not doing that anymore. I’ve been posting less on Instagram due to time constraints, and because every time I go to post something, it feels disingenuous somehow.
I’m going to stick to the facts of our day, offer the intended learning and the reality of how it turned out - because I can promise you, the two are rarely the same. I think part of shattering misconceptions around homeschooling includes sharing honest experiences that aren’t written to impress so much as to educate those who are curious about homeschooling. We do ourselves, our kids, and those we're scaring away, a disservice to act like every day is filled with amazing educational epiphanies. They are not. Many days are - and those days are incredible gifts that deserve recognition, but most days are not.
So no, we won’t be mapping out our travel adventures with designated learning activities - not that they every worked out anyway. Even bringing books on a cruise - who read them? Not us! But the impression was that we had, because intentions are always good and who thinks about posting a recap of the reality? I never have till now, honestly.
We’ll still be sharing planned and spontaneous learnings as they happen. And some amazing class times we have that never really follow the script, but offer exceptional learnings for different kids in different ways. But I plan to be more mindful of the reality of it all. To share the true strengths of homeschooling, which are flexibility, individuality and learning outside of the box. And that box will defy neat descriptions some days and that's okay too. But I'm going to try!
THAT is the beauty of homeschooling under all of the makeup after all. And it's time to wash it all off and let people see how it really looks.