Mother’s Day spotlight: Homeschooling

  • { Michelle in middle with fringe & sunnies }
  • In honor of mothers and all mothers out there during these confusing times today's post is going to go a little differently.
  • The other week between sharing memes and talking about which shows I've been sucked into, I got into a conversation with one of my close friends Michelle about the content being pushed out onto the internet at the moment. We started talking about what was really important and how things are changing and what a shift it might be for some.
  • Michelle happens to be my only friends that was ever home schooled. I mean if you think about it, it makes sense we would meet later in life, that and also we lived 28362 miles apart haha. She's one of my most most caring and kindest friends and honestly not quite sure what I'd do without her.  She had this amazing idea of shifting the focus a bit, highlighting mothers who are really doing it all and  for some stepping into unknown territory....
  •  Coming from a homeschooled parent, what were her up's and downs? The hardest and the best moments?
  • So guys meet Michelle and her mother Aracelli, she's going to take over from here. Enjoy :)
  • I was homeschooled K-12. It was completely normal in my family, as I was the third daughter of four girls who were all homeschooled. But now, as a grown adult in my mid- thirties, I look back on those uniquely wild, precious years and have so many questions! HOW? WHY?! BUT REALLY, HOW?! This interview was eye opening and I have such deep admiration for the commitment my Mother made. Her attentiveness, adventurous spirit and strength throughout my childhood is something I want to highlight and celebrate this Mother’s Day!
  • Michelle: People find it hard to believe that you wanted to homeschool. Can you shed some light on why you made that decision, Mom?
  • Aracelli: There were several reasons that led me to homeschool my first child and consequently, all four of my children. By 1984, when I began homeschooling, I had researched the subject extensively–it wasn’t a decision made lightly. There were very few homeschooling families (around 10) in our community and it was not an accepted practice. We were often criticized, not praised, for making the choice to teach our children at home. - I valued learning, education and the practice of knowledge. “Teach a child to fish, and he will always be able to eat.” - I wanted to be involved with my children’s learning and development; cater to their individual needs, capabilities, strengths and help with weaknesses. - Give them an environment with freedom, so they could become well-rounded individuals, who would be able to relate to all people. - Create a deep family bond. - Public school curriculum was not aligned with our values or goals for our children, and that environment presented many problems. Private schools were not an option for us. Homeschooling became a long-term commitment with each child. Each year we had to evaluate and decide if we would continue.
  • M: How did you juggle teaching 4 kids who were all in different grades and using different curriculum?
  • A: That’s exactly what it felt like, juggling–trying to keep all balls in the air. I have to be honest, it was never easy. It took a tremendous amount of organization and research. Loads of trial and error, plenty of learning moments, trying days and exemplary days. The subjects got harder so we enlisted help–other homeschool parents who were experts in their field i.e., art, public speaking, music and even early entrance into community college. Similar to any school, my children’s cooperation was essential. I was committed; it was my full time job.

M: What tactic/approach did you fine tune?

A: Integrating social activities with learning–wherever we went, I wanted to have teaching moments.

  • M: Do you still think about areas in which you would’ve handled teaching differently?
  • A: Of course. In hindsight, I see that I could have relaxed and had more fun with the experience. So much pressure was put on homeschooling families: from the state to meet their requirements, from peers who had children in regular schools, we dealt with arguments from others regarding “socialization.” And I put pressure on myself…what if everyone is right and my kids are going to be social outcasts and failures?
  • M: What did you tell yourself when you felt like giving up?
  • A: My husband and I were in this together, so when I felt like giving up, I always expressed those feelings. Having someone alongside you, to give a different perspective, is a tremendous weight off your shoulders. You are not alone in this challenging journey.
  • M: How did you make time for yourself when you were with 4 daughters all day every day?
  • A: I admit self-care wasn’t the top priority. I hid in the bathroom for downtime, it was my escape hatch, haha. I carved out time to read for relaxation. I also made time for my own classes and learned about subjects I was personally interested in. My interest in gardening led to a landscaping course, and the result was a beautiful flower and vegetable garden I planted.
  • M: What was the worst part of homeschooling?
  • A: There really wasn’t a worst part. But there was doubt, failures, never enough time, and sometimes, struggling with not knowing what to do or how to do it. Including the fact that we were dealing with four (no, six) unique personalities in the home, and each child had a different learning style.
  • M: What was your favorite part of homeschooling?
  • A: Being with my girls. I loved watching them interact, learn together, teach and challenge each other. I gave them my time, love, support and encouragement. My husband and I instilled in them an adventurous, curious spirit for life. There are so many memories and stories from our homeschooling days that I’ll never forget. I also took joy in watching my daughters participate in soccer, track, basketball, gymnastics, bowling, dance, photography, public speaking, etc. All of my daughters took piano and singing lessons and still sing and play well.

M: What would you like to tell parents who are struggling with homeschooling right now?

  • A: Set your expectations high and then lower them because you will not accomplish all that you want to. Reading, writing, and math are the basic tools which will set the foundation for what they will need to learn in the future. Cherish the quiet times with your kids as well as the fun, messy and difficult teaching moments. When you are teaching a math concept, or another subject they’re not understanding–go ride a bike together, or bake some homemade treats for the neighbor’s dog (I can send you a recipe). Repetition is key, but sometimes what we’re trying to teach is beyond their grasp, or we just need to try another method at another time. Sleep is essential and leads to a better day for all. Remind yourself to take one day at a time. And give everybody in your home plenty of hugs!