We had our monthly almost-two-hour drive to the orthodontist today so I thought I would bring along some CDs of the talks from our ILCHC homeschool conference this past May. I listened to Maureen Whittmann talk about beginning homeschool and Ginny Seufert talk about homeschooling high school. It was a good mix - hearing things about the beginning and the end of the homeschooling journey.
After listening it got me thinking about what it takes to be a homeschooling mother - someone who can stick with it for the entire 12 year process and live to tell about it. (Let's see, two years to go for the oldest and 15 more years until the youngest is done. Wow!) Here is a list of qualities that I think a successful homeschooling mother should have. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I don't mean to imply that if you don't have these traits that you aren't a good homeschooling mom. Just some thoughts based on my experience and that of others older than I that I have learned from along the way.
~ A good prayer life - this is so important. It may not seem like it in the beginning, but as your kids advance, you will need to pray morning, noon and night. Daily mass when possible, frequent reception of the sacraments (especially confession!), a set prayer routine. All of these will become crucial to your success.
~ A heart open to the Holy Spirit - I learned early on that God is the best director of our homeschool. The more I let Him have his say in how he wants me to school my children, the better it goes.
~ Allowing yourself to be humbled - Don't hang on to that pride! I find that just when I am in a situation where I think my kids will shine and show others that they are being raised better because they are homeschooled, they inevitably prove me wrong and put me back in my proper place!
~ The support of your husband - I can't imagine how it would be possible to homeschool without the support of your husband; or at least his consent. You may not have anyone else's support, but you really need to have his if you are going to make it through the long haul and live to tell about it.
~ Knowing the reasons why you are homeschooling - If you don't have these reasons firmly implanted in your brain, when the going gets tough, you're likely to give in and stick them back in a traditional school. You must remain firm in your convictions so that you can stick it out during the rough times (like every February when we're all ready to pull each others' hair out!!)
~ A strong personality - You will face obstacles from people who just don't understand your desire to homeschool. If you have a strong personality and can be a bit stubborn, you will ride the waves of criticism much better. Of course, when you get a group of homeschooling mothers together who ALL have strong personalities, well, let's just say it can sometimes be hard to come to an agreement about things!
~ The ability to be flexible - This is both on a daily level and in the broader scope. Have a plan for your day, but be flexible - you never know what the good Lord is going to send you and you should be willing and able to accept it graciously. Also, be flexible about your long range goals. Take one year at a time and realize that no two years of homeschooling are going to be the same. Some will be okay, some will be bad and, if you're lucky, you may even get a few that are great!
~ At least a minimal ability to be organized - While I am sure you can still homeschool without any sense of organization, you're life will be much easier if you develop some sense of organization. Organize your day, your chores, your meals etc. Even if everything goes haywire, you'll at least have a schedule to fall back on.
So there you have it, my random thoughts on what I think it takes to survive homeschooling. I am sure that I have forgotten a few. If there are any of you opinionated homeschooling mothers :) who would like to add to this list, feel free!