Friday, April 8, 2016

But I'm a teacher - why is homeschooling my kids so hard?!

homeschooling successfully with mental illness
Teaching is my passion.  I love relating to students and facilitating their learning.  I earned two degrees in education, successfully taught middle school for six years, and founded a popular after-school girls' character education program.  I've presented at teaching professional development sessions and directed a professional development program for teachers.  I currently teach at the college level.

With all that passion and experience, teaching my own kids should be a breeze, right?  Yeah, not so much.

I started preschool with my oldest son a couple of years ago, and the mistakes were numerous:
  1. Turns out there is a BIG difference between teaching one subject five times a day to 7th graders and teaching my own three-year-old how to read.  Classroom management is way easier than home/kid-raising/homeschool management.
  2. I looked in all the wrong places for a short list of academic standards for preschoolers.  I eventually found the Typical Course of Study standards from World Book that were much more useful.  
  3. I looked at Pinterest.  So many awesome (and overwhelming and overcomplicating) activities to do with him!
And then there is the mental illness.  There is no way I can possibly educate my three children at home well when I struggle with OCD, anxiety, and depression (says my brain).  Wouldn't it be better for them to go to school and learn from someone else?  Wouldn't it be healthier for them to learn from someone who doesn't struggle with mental illness?  Am I doing them a disservice by selfishly wanting to keep them home with me for school?

The short answer, I believe, is no.  I (and they) will be okay.  By the grace of God, we will all be okay.  And on days that I'm not okay, I have support.  My husband.  My parents.  My in-laws.  My friends.  And maybe even a Classical Conversations (CC) community.

After attending a CC open house this morning, I think it could be part of the answer to successful homeschooling for our family.  The rigorous classical curriculum is written on a three year cycle with each age group learning the same content in different ways.  Kids learn terms (really well!) in their younger years, and by the time they are older and go through the content cycle again, they are equipped to learn more deeply.  Communities meet one morning a week throughout the school year with parents serving as tutors.  Kids socialize, experience a school setting, and are accountable to someone other than their parent.  Parents attend with their children, experience community, and collaborate with other parents.  I have more research to do, but this is the way I'm leaning at the moment.

I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on both homeschooling with mental illness and Classical Conversations!