A line from my Dad’s favorite song …… “and now the end is near”….. is playing on my head. As my eldest son and only daughter graduate from high school and middle school respectively this month, Teacher Mommy Donna and youngest son also graduate from homeschool, Wait, Teacher Mommy Donna graduates too?
Yes, there are no more children to home educate. I get joked nowadays that I may take it on and homeschool our adorable pug, Boo. Yes, the end is near, in a couple of weeks, I will be laying down my homeschool hat, apron and Teacher ID.
16 years. That’s as old as my 2nd son. ( Haha, I didn’t want to use my age as basis obviously!)
I still remember clearly, my wise sister’s words when she encouraged me to try homeschooling for our then 3 year old son Vince. I still recall receiving our first homeschool preschool kit from Sing Spell Read and Write, and all the balikbayan boxes, year in and year out as more and more children came and more and more students joined our homeschool lessons.
Oh, there are so many days to share, so many experiences to ponder on but for now, I will just summarize this journey with my take home lessons which I will forever take with me wherever I go.
- It is okay to have fun.
Learning can be fun. Fun will spell the big difference in the longevity of your homeschool:) Find the “fun” in your everyday and pursue that. And get rid of the guilt of having fun while learning, or having fun for the sake of fun itself. Chill!
2. Delegate what can be delegated.
Stop thinking of being a one woman show, or trying to be a martyr. Do what you do best. Focus on what you’re good at. Delegate what can be delegated so you can save your time, effort and energy on what you do best. I clearly remember an advise of parenting expert, James Dobson on what to do with extra funds, he said,” Get hired help. ” Provide ways to support the main teacher of your children so she can focus on teaching and bonding with the children.
3. Find a system to deal with stress.
Stress is inevitable. It is part and parcel of every hour of our lives. It comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. We have to have a way to deal with them: prayer/ meditation, movement (sport/dance/exercise/hobby) pockets of ways to express your creativity, balanced nutrition/ supplements if necessary, regular BFF time, reflection/journalling, aromatherapy! Figure it out. Determine your stress release regimen and do it regularly. Find a way to set up a “stress meter” in your life and adjust accordingly.
4. It all boils down to preserving and nurturing relationships.
My favorite take home from our 16 year homeschooling — a good and steady relationship (and I’d like to believe a growing one with open communication ) with each child. Connect with others. You cannot homeschool alone. I asked a dear psychiatrist friend one main advice for good mental health after almost 15 years of practice, her simple answer was, “Connect.” Outside the home, I made the most amazing friendships and bonds with fellow homeschoolers!! Online, I have 11,400 plus homeschooling friends on FB!
5. Empathy goes a long, long way.
Empathy goes beyond sympathy (feeling for others). Empathy compels you to act after you “feel for others”; to do something to lessen someone’s pain or discomfort. Empathy is one important value I am hoping and praying was passed on to the our children.
6. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.
That is a verse from Joshua 1:8. I will be forever grateful for the Bible, God’s Word. It is my manual for life, my marriage, for homeschooling, my work…. I have read many books during my 16 year homeschool journey, I can give away all those books on marriage, parenting, on child education , on homeschooling and just keep one book with me forever, God’s Word, the Bible. And it is my prayer that my children will also seriously take this Book as their manual for life too:)
Forgive oneself for not meeting the steep expectations you set , forgive others for not measuring up, forgive your children and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others .. yes including your little children when mommy loses her temper or says hurtful words. We will all have our share of bad homeschool days, of pain from trials, of “get me out here” moments that seem to last forever. Forgive. Learn. Re-set. Repeat. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Re-Set. Repeat. There is no other way.
Prayer I have come to learn is simply dependence on God. The more you pray, the more you declare your inability, your finiteness, and your need of God. The more you pray, the more you give back to God. The more you pray, the less you want to control how life comes your way. The more you pray, the more you let go. St. Paul saw the importance of prayer, prompting him to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” That is key to living any kind of life, really.
9. Prepare & Plan
They say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In the homeschooling world, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of maximal learning. Whether it be doing your own research regarding homeschooling or what makes a teacher effective, or giving 15 minutes to prepare your homeschool schedule or activities, it truly pays to prioritize “preparation and planning”.
10. Love. Love. Love.
Jesus put it simply. The greatest commandment revolves around Love. Love for God and love for thy neighbors. Love is central in the lessons 1-9. To review:
- Have fun in love.
- Lovingly delegate
- Love yourself and take care of yourself and manage your stress
- Reach out and love others to nurture relationships
- Love in action is empathy
- Love God’s Word
- Lovingly forgive.
- When you pray, it is showing our love for God, His presence!
- Love is more than a feeling, more than emotion. It is an act of will so you prepare and plan. Work is involved.
Love is the ingredient in all that you do that will spell the biggest difference. St. Paul says it again, and as let me paraphrase his words in 1 Corthinthians 13: 1, “Without love, you are nothing but noise.”
Let me quote what was shared by my friend’s grandmother who dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing others, ” The best educator is the one who loves the learner.”
So there. I can think of 10 more lessons as I give this topic much more thought. But hey ,they say, top of mind answers sometimes are the best. And this restaurant I am in as I type away is about to close. So I will leave it here for now.
As I close, I have 19 homeschool days left with our youngest.
My heart is full as we close this chapter. I will be forever grateful for this awesome life changing experience. And wow, I have these life lessons, sealed in my heart, as I move on to the next chapter of my life. Hallelujah indeed. Sail away with me, Lord. Thank you indeed.
Psalm 37:4-5…Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way unto the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire.