M is for …

If you aren’t familiar with the Homeschooling A-Z series, you can start here: What is she talking about?

Today I’m continuing the Homeschooling A-Z theme, with the intention of demonstrating that homeschooling families have so many similarities, and yet it’s what makes each family unique that makes homeschoolers so special. Can you relate to any of this?  

Today’s letter of the day is … M! 

M is for ...


In most home schools, M is for Mom. Mom, Momma, Mommy. Whatever you call her, most homeschool teachers are of the female persuasion. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a random dad out there who’s the primary teacher, but they just don’t look the same in their denim jumpers, know what I’m sayin’? That said, I know the dads play different roles in each family. Substitute teacher, principal, superintendent, personal assistant, financial manager, custodian, cook, disciplinarian, chief bottle washer. What role does Dad play at your house? In our house, Dad plays all of those roles except disciplinarian and financial manager. He also teaches really useful life skills while I sneak away to my bedroom for some peace and quiet.

(M is for “Momma needs her quiet!”)

In addition, M is for mistakes. We all make mistakes! We spend money on a resource that doesn’t work for us, we yell when patience would be more effective, we employ constructive criticism right when the child actually needs encouragement and praise, or vice versa. One of the first things I found myself teaching my kids when we started homeschooling was that mistakes are ok. We had a sign that reminded us that “Mistakes are opportunities to learn.” I’ve always tried to be very forgiving about mistakes, being very nonchalant about them. My kids have heard me say many times, “Oops. Let’s try that again!” in a cheerful voice. I’d much rather have my mistakes handled that way, and I’m sure they will appreciate my approach someday. How do you handle mistakes?

Mistakes are opportunities to learn

Oy. Sometimes M is for miserable. Let’s just admit it. Some days we just feel miserable. We don’t always know why. Maybe we’ve been stuck in the house too many days in a row. Maybe we’re second-guessing our decisions. Maybe we’ve abandoned our schedules and now no one knows what to do with themselves. Whatever it is, let me reassure you: the misery will end. No need to panic! My advice is to roll with it. Take the day off, troll through Pinterest looking for words of inspiration or ideas that will motivate, turn on some music and dance, or curl up in bed with a movie or a book. Dumping the written work for the day and playing board games or reading books instead has an amazing ability to lift us from the doldrums. Even with my kids being in middle school, I can still pull out a stack of funny picture books and all of our spirits are lifted by the time we’re done. We all have miserable days now and then. (And sometimes weeks!) FYI: If your misery is lasting months on end, you might be suffering from depression and I hope you can find the strength to reach out and ask for help. You’re definitely not alone or unique in that respect. Many others have been there and are willing to help.

Do you ever feel like M is for magic? I don’t mean the hocus-pocus stuff. I mean those magical moments when something clicks with your kids. I mean that day when you suddenly realize that you really did teach your child to read! I’m talking about what it feels like when your child instantly clicks with another homeschooler and you know you’re witnessing the birth of a new friendship. Those moments feel like magic.

M is for madness. That’s what I call those “semesters” (for lack of a better word) when we accidentally sign our kids up for too many outside activities and schedule too many playdates. Suddenly there’s not enough time for the math and spelling because we’re running to art and dance and soccer and youth group and the theater and the library and yet another field trip. Everyone’s first argument against homeschooling is the lack of socialization, but they should really be worried about our lack of downtime! 

Just a few more quickies here: M is for: music – because it can soothe the savage beast, inspire, grow brain cells, and stimulate the synapses; money – some can find ways to homeschool for free, but you have more choices if you can find a little something in the budget to purchase what you need; and mopping – a great chore you can give a child of any age! If you knew how infrequently my floors get mopped, you would understand that even done poorly, but proudly, by a toddler, everyone will still live. A little dirt never hurt!

Speaking of mopping, what is a chore you assign to the kids because you really just hate to do it yourself? (Mine is emptying the dishwasher.)

Happy homeschooling, Friends!

~ Courageous Jane

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