One of the things I am passionate about is helping parents understand their child’s learning and personality needs. I have literally dozens of posts on my website about tailoring our parenting and homeschooling to our child’s unique bent whether she is right-brained, gifted, spirited, highly-sensitive, or wired differently in some other way.
But I also believe we have to balance this informed focus on our child with a mom-friendly approach to homeschooling.
What do I mean by mom-friendly?
Every homeschooling family needs balance. That balance is found in the intersection of our child’s needs and the mother’s needs, abilities and limits. (Yes, the father’s needs come into play as well, but I’m focusing here on the mother who is typically the lead homeschooler and stay-at-home parent. If the father is the one in this role, then this would apply to him.)
While ultimately we have to defer to our child’s needs when it comes to homeschooling, we should only do so as much as necessary to give our child an effective education. The balance of that should be creating a mom-friendly homeschool situation where not only the child flourishes but the mother does as well with minimal homeschool stress.
Homeschooling is a tremendous gift we give our children, but it should not be at the expense of our own spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. Yes, we will make sacrifices when we homeschool and that is a choice we all choose to embrace when we make the decision to home educate. But homeschooling should not become our entire life.
What does a mom-friendly homeschool look like?
A mom-friendly homeschool should be the coming together of what is best for the child and what is best for the mom. This includes:
- selecting a homeschool philosophy and curriculum that works for mom
- finding a homeschool rhythm that works for mom
- creating a homeschool atmosphere that works for mom
Selecting a homeschool philosophy and curriculum that works for mom
There are a number of major homeschool philosophies that we can consider when deciding to homeschool our child and each one has its pros and cons. There are many homeschool curriculum choices available today, each also with their positives and negatives. The combination of philosophy and curriculum creates an almost endless number of possibilities from which we must select what works for our family.
One of the things I’ve come to realize about our decision to become relaxed homeschoolers is that it is the approach that works best for both Caroline and me. We ended up relaxed homeschoolers because I realized it was best for Caroline, but I don’t think I fully understood until later how much my own needs instinctively drove me as well when making that decision.
While some moms might enjoy spending copious amounts of time reading about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy or researching classical education topics and attending Classical Conversations with their children, that is not how I want to invest my energy. I frankly don’t want to spend hours and hours doing prep work to homeschool Caroline. It would seriously diminish my own capacity to flourish as an individual because being a homeschool mom is only part of my life. Relaxed homeschooling is the intersection of where Caroline can learn best and where I can be a happy and healthy mom. That isn’t to say I never find it challenging because I do. But of all the options available to us as a mother and daughter, the relaxed homeschooling approach is the best place for both of us to both give and receive.
This will look different for different moms. Some moms might do better with a more tightly scheduled day. They might feel more secure knowing that everything is mapped out for them. Some moms need the reassurance of a scripted curriculum and find a freedom in having all of that responsibility for figuring it out done for them. There is no one right way to do a mom-friendly homeschool and don’t be afraid to make a change when you need to. The point is to figure out what your child needs and the best way for you to deliver it in a way that allows you to stay happy and sane. An effective education for your child should not come at the expense of your own well-being.
Finding a homeschool rhythm that works for mom
A mom-friendly homeschool also means finding a homeschool rhythm that works for the mom as well as the child. This can be a bit trickier, but it is important. A mom who feels that homeschooling runs her life is not going to be a happy mom long-term. And an unhappy mom eventually ends up a burned out mom.
Homeschooling should not run our lives. It should not be our master. It should be a tool we use to accomplish what we need to do for our child’s education. The times when I have been most unhappy as a homeschooling mom were when I felt like homeschooling and educational needs had overtaken our lives to the point that none of us were happy. Life was out of balance and it only takes a short time before that lack of balance takes a significant toll.
Establishing a healthy rhythm includes deciding how to organize your day, your week and your year. Again, the child’s educational needs come first (such as our decision to homeschool in the afternoon and not the morning), but those decisions also have to work for the mom’s rhythm as well. It may take some trial and error to figure it out, but mom’s needs have to be met too.
Creating a homeschool atmosphere that works for mom
Every home has an atmosphere. This atmosphere is created by how we decorate, how we organize our belongings, the behavior we expect from our children, the procedures we establish, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the language we use, how we dress, etc. These all combine to create a family atmosphere.
I think this is the area where the mom should consider most strongly her own needs. As the one who runs the home, mom has to be happy in the atmosphere in which she lives. This is especially true for a mom who is home all day, every day and is responsible for her child’s education.
Again a healthy atmosphere is going to vary from family to family. But mom needs to figure out what she needs in order to stay sane and happy and then work toward that end. It might mean needing to train her children to do a better job of picking up if messes drive her nuts. It might mean purging her own clutter if it stresses her out. It might mean needing to rethink the way she guides her children and the consequences they receive. Maybe mom needs to implement some new procedures to make homeschooling time run more effectively. Whatever it is, mom needs a healthy and happy homeschooling atmosphere in order to do this for the long-run.
If mama ain’t happy…
We all know the saying and it’s true. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It really is true in homeschooling families. An unhappy homeschooling mom is going to be ineffective as a mom, an educator, a homemaker, and a wife. Mom’s unhappiness then trickles down to the children.
Being a martyr for the cause of homeschooling isn’t going to do anyone any good. It’s far better for everyone to find ways to create a mom-friendly homeschool experience. If mama is happy, that happiness is most apt to spread throughout the home.