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A Banana, an iPad, and a Home School

Let me just start by saying, I never wanted to homeschool. I was the Mom who politely smiled and gave a condescending love pat to anyone who said they homeschooled their children followed by a “bless you”. Homeschooling is a calling, and I never wanted it to be mine. Well, the “call” came, and I surprisingly didn’t hang up the phone.

We embarked on our homeschool journey with much fear and trembling. We had had a rough year at their private school with relationships and our money was tight. Daily, my kids told me they were bored and tired of waiting for other kids to “get it." SO, I bought a million pencils, 5 packs of paper, enough workbooks to satisfy my 4 year old for a year, dry erase boards, 10 packs of stickers, and one very large buffet to hold all the enormous piles of books we now owned. I read all the homeschool blogs I dared and poured over catalogs like a mad woman. I still felt like I had no idea what I was getting myself into and was terrified of screwing it up.

I have a love hate relationship with homeschool. I love the bond that it has brought to our family. It feels like we work as a team now. We all work to keep our house clean, take care of the two younger babes (ages 3 and 5), and we all take turns helping out with schooling. I love that I get to introduce them to hard topics and world views. I get to be the one that sees compassion glisten down their cheeks. I am the face that is speaking trust and truth into their hearts. It’s breathtaking and beautiful. I love seeing their faces light up when they discover something new. I love that I’m learning along side of them. I love that I know exactly what they are learning, and exactly what they are being taught. I love that I can easily fill in the gaps that they have and not have to wonder and second guess if they learned anything that day.

However, my children are with me all the time. All. The. Time. (insert pulling my hair out emoji) My oldest child is a girl whose hobby is talking. When she isn’t talking, she’s explaining. When she isn’t explaining, she’s teaching. When she isn’t teaching, she’s regurgitating all the information I TAUGHT her THAT day. (insert cross-eyed and crying emoji). Her idea of “hanging out” is talking. This introverted Mama gets just a taaaaad bit weary of it at the end of the day. I have to mentally tell myself multiple times a day to engage and listen. It’s so hard not to tune her out. What makes it even harder is that she doesn’t really need or want me to respond. She just wants to talk. (OH-EM-GEE). My second oldest–a boy wears his heart on his sleeve. He has such a tender heart and that often translates into “I can’t” or “it’s too hard” and also “school again??” as if school is a constant daily surprise. He tends to sound like a stressed out balloon slowly losing its air. You can’t quite decide if you just want to cover your ears from the sounds coming out, or pop the darn thing. (le sigh) My 4 year old is super quiet and doesn’t really need anyone to entertain him. His idea of a protest is quietly saying the word “no” and blinking at you with his big brown eyes as if you are speaking a foreign language. He discovered this year what it’s like to silently protest his younger brother and drive him crazy. He can also cry gigantic tears on demand. My kids are talented. My youngest is probably the hardest part of homeschooling. He’s loud and likes to scream his loudness. I’m pretty sure he spent the first three months of homeschool screaming “I want a banana” while I shoved an iPad in his face. The kid knows exactly what he wants, and he won’t give up ever until he gets it. Let’s hope he wants to homeschool one day (win win).

Even though their little quirks and passions are more demonstrative now that they are at home more, I love them. They are the kindest kids. They know how to celebrate one another and share in a victory. My oldest two have helped kissed boo-boos, played legos, and tucked in my 2 year old for nap time. They are eager to learn, and that is such an invaluable gift. Even though it's just us learning together this year, their little world view broadened greatly and they have such a fondness and appreciation now for cultures. I'm raising little people that will become big people. All I can hope and pray is that they become big people that I like and people who know how to love. 

I knew it wasn’t going to be a “Little House on the Prairie” homeschool. As much as I hoped my children would be snuggled up together in peaceful tranquility while reading books together and smiling dreamy content smiles, I knew it wasn’t realistic. Most days, “school” looked like books scattered all over our house. We often migrated from one room to the next until we could find a quiet spot from the “banana screaming”. Some days truly were magical though. My oldest did more than half of her reading on our back porch swing in the sunshine with her shoes kicked off. She did countless science experiments all on her own, and learned how to sew her own clothes.  My second oldest gained a massive amount of confidence and learned that he really can do hard things. He won his first trophy ever, and we discovered that he can do almost all his math in his head in seconds. My 4 year has mad scissor skills, and my 2 year old started using words. (insert hallelujah chorus). 

Homeschooling is work. It’s hard that my “free” time is very limited. Sometimes I don’t leave the house for several days in a row and that can be challenging for me. I am an introvert at heart, so my need for “space” and “quiet” is high. I spend three hours away from home once a week at a coffee shop to help refresh myself. I affectionately call it my “escape time”. This past school year, I cross-stitched an entire peacock, crocheted countless wash cloths, read through almost all the “Anne of Green Gables” series, and began dabbling in calligraphy and homemade wooden signs all during my escape time. Having those three hours to myself, as well as time in the garden have kept me sane. I highly recommend finding something that you do only for you–that takes you away from all your demands at home.

Somehow, we did it. We made it through an entire year of homeschooling two children. My kids don’t hate me. My daughter thinks this is the best thing that ever happened to her (her words). My son loves that his school day is short, but he misses recess with loads of friends. I am worn out, and I don’t want to look at another school book until I absolutely HAVE to. Well, that’s not entirely true since I’ve already picked out their curriculum for next year. I still can’t believe we are doing this, but I also wouldn’t trade it for anything. Each year, we will reevaluate and make sure we are all still in this together–working as a team to grow and learn. As long as we are all on board, I think that’s all I need to keep going–that and maybe a banana and an iPad. ;)

-Kathryn Nordyke
(@TheElderberryLady)

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