It’s hard to believe that we’re already in our fifth year of homeschooling. Sometimes it feels like we’ve just begun and other days, when I talk to new homeschooling parents, I realize just how far we’ve come as a family.
When our older daughter was in Kindergarten, we joined a Classical Conversations community with me as her class tutor. Unfortunately, after the first six weeks or so, it became quite clear that I was not the right tutor for that group of students–and the pressure that I put on myself began to hurt my relationship with Addie.
Sometimes, when I feel guilty about that year, I joke with other moms about there being a reason that most five-year-olds go away to school. I make light of the day that I called my husband at work and asked him to meet me at the local elementary school to officially enroll Addie. I remember how excited she was to climb into the car with a huge, empty backpack while I struggled with my emotions. I recall thinking about leaving her with perfect strangers, knowing that I was failing her both as a teacher and as her mother.
I didn’t enroll her in public school that day.
I sat behind the wheel of my car with my two sweet girls chattering in the backseat, thinking back over some of my worst moments of the previous month. My precious daughter–the most exuberant, innocent, compassionate person I have ever met, the one whose tenacity saved her life on more than one occasion–was beginning to hate me.
Despite being born 14 weeks early and struggling with several developmental delays as a toddler, Addie had more than caught up with her peers by her third birthday–testing at a speech level of a 5-year-old and learning to read shortly after. Her precociousness followed her to Kindergarten, where she memorized large pieces of memory work for Classical Conversations with little to no effort.
I made the mistake of misinterpreting her giftedness for ambition. I put unnecessary pressure on my little girl to do more, faster and without complaining. I pushed her when I should have offered grace. I took the fun out of learning. I made school more important than our relationship.
I look back on that semester as a turning point for me and our homeschooling journey. In the past three years, I’ve relaxed A TON. Kate’s homeschool preschool experience has been completely different than her sister’s.
And in the meantime, I’ve seen Addie excel at the same skills that I pushed on her before she was developmentally ready. My little girl who cried through handwriting practice two years ago now regularly writes her own short stories for fun.
We take time to snuggle on the couch now. I look her in the eyes and listen to her most important thoughts that she just can’t wait to share. We take a lot of breaks. We laugh more. Sing Brave at the top of our lungs. Dance till we can’t catch our breath.
Homeschooling is about more than checking off a list of topics covered and getting through all the material by the end of the year. I’m thankful I learned that lesson early on!
This post was originally published on my previous blog, lonestarsigners.com.