By Kathy Kuhl
If I could send a letter back to my younger self in 1997, when I started to homeschool, here’s what I’d write:
Dear younger me,
Greetings from eighteen years from now. Since I remember how anxious we were in 1997, I thought I’d write. (I’m thinking of your shelves of homeschool catalogs–the world’s heaviest security blanket.)
There will be some terrible days and tough times homeschooling, but you’ll be glad you did it.
Once you get into the swing of it, you’re going to build parts of our homeschool around our son’s gifts, his love of history and story. Great idea!
But do it even more. Buy a cheap video camera and let him learn to make stop motion films with his Legos, for instance. Make copies or type up his very best stories. Look at unit studies, Charlotte Mason, and unschoolers for more inspiration.
(Don’t throw away the Egyptian figurines he’s going to make out of Sculpey in sixth grade. He is still be annoyed about that.)
You won’t regret planning all the field trips. You’d be surprised where we get to go and amazed what our son gets to do. Enjoy!
There will be unexpected blessings.
About your biggest worry: yes, you will teach him to read. And our husband will call our efforts “heroic.” (Yep, as in “not easy.”) He will say other things, wise things you should pay more attention to.
Our son will achieve things you can’t imagine, but not everything you expect.
Ask for help more often. Specifically:
-Certified Academic Language Therapists (CALT, aka academic therapists) do know more than that regular reading specialist you’re going to hire. They have the equivalent of a masters in teaching reading to dyslexics. Each CALT I’ve seen at work reminds me teaching is an art. So spend some of the college savings on one. You can find one near you here at the ALTA website. Fellows of the Orton-Gillingham Academy have similar training. You can find one here. (Beware: not every person or website with Orton and Gillingham’s names attached has the rigorous training that ALTA and the Orton-Gillingham Academy offer.)
-Experts will give evaluations for different learning challenges. Ask them more follow-up questions. It would be okay to write them back in a few weeks, when you have time to digest their reports.
-Don’t be hesitant to talk to a counselor or psychologist, too. It’s not easy helping kids who face multiple challenges. Ask wise, trustworthy people for who to try. Some very wise people will give great advice–if you ask.
Don’t worry about how homeschooling will turn out. Anxiety rubs off and never helps anyone learn. (Remember how our brain shut down back when we took pre-calculus?)
Pray, cling to God, and give thanks always. We have a lot to be thankful for. Remember those Bible verses “Rejoice always, pray with out ceasing, give thanks” and “Don’t worry about anything” are commands, not vague pats on the back.
Relax and enjoy our children,
Inspired by Kris Bales, who wrote “Letter to My 1st-Year Self” in her Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog, February 23, 2015.