My (Unexpected) Journey to Homeschooling

Life

Guest post by Erin Loechner

I didn’t set out to create a homeschooling co-op.

(Heck, I didn’t set out to homeschool, either.)

The daughter of two public school teachers, I was a proud product of my local school system for years. Upon graduating, I greeted the world armed with a fresh degree in compliance, in assimilation. I have lovely memories of my education, the smell of chalk dust, the lunch room excitement on Taco Tuesday, the spelling bees and dodgeball games, the sharing of #2 pencils and hair spray, the shiny new Trapper Keepers just waiting to be doodled on.

But even now, I look back and see that my own education taught me how to pass a subject, how to get an A, how to fall in step, how to memorize-and-forget, how to move on, how to keep up.

What it did not teach me: how to learn.

And so, choosing to teach my little ones opened a total floodgate of insecurities. I knew only a handful of families who homeschooled, and they all took such vastly different approaches. Which was best for us? I hit the books and started researching what felt like hundreds of methods only to find myself lost in a sea of options, resources, advice.

I’d lie awake at night, doubts circling my head like vultures:

Where do I begin? Can I handle it? Will I be enough?

The answer, for us all: Where you are. On most days. I suppose we’ll find out.

We always find out, don’t we? We always find out we’re stronger than we think, we’re wiser than we know, that we’re brave and capable and have an immense ability to adapt to the hard, to rise above, to commit to the challenge, to take on the task.

For us, that task looks like this:

We head to our Chinese friend’s house twice a week to play for two hours, our own little makeshift version of immersion learning. We have a reading lesson daily, twenty minutes of letter sounds and memorization and sentence structure. We play Uno and practice numbers. I read aloud, Charlotte’s Web and Mary Poppins. We listen to audio books, we sing history songs. We pass our little ones off to friends or family to learn fun little life skills we know very little about: fishing with uncles, drumming sessions with friends, baking with Grandma, Lizard Care 101 with a neighbor.

We supplement daily with the curriculum I create and share here.

It’s simple, for now. We teach where we are. On most days, we handle it. Is it enough?

Enough for what?

Here’s what I know to be true:

If we can teach our children to love learning, if we can teach them to ask questions, to solve problems, to figure things out, to think for themselves, to communicate with care, to take responsibility for their actions, to consider a different perspective, to respect others, to serve others, to love others?

That will be enough.

(That will be quite a lot, actually.)

We call it homeschooling, but I think it might just be called giving our kids the best we can. Giving our kids the best of our energy, our time, our resources.

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Giving them a wide space to grow and twirl and be. Giving them the opportunity to live a life of learning as a family unit, to fail safely, to be part of something larger than one self.

To tether our worlds for however long we’re given.

To push the door open, to usher our kids into the land of caterpillars and chaos, of valleys and vines. To walk forward. To shake hands with something new and unknown and curiously lovely.

To make The Great Introduction.

To bend low and whisper, “Dear child. This is your world.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin Loechner

Erin is founder of Other Goose, a homeschooling community for the early years. Bestselling author of Chasing Slow, her work has been showcased in The New York Times, Parenting, People Magazine, Huffington Post, and a two-season HGTV.com web special. Now nestled in a Midwestern town, Erin, her husband, and two young kids strive for less in most areas except three: joy, grace, and goat cheese.

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