Homeschooling is an extraordinary way of life characterized by following a few basic regulations and then setting off to create a life of learning. It extends beyond the boundaries set by governments and school districts and ultimately morphs into the perfect level of preparation for every student. The development and expansion of the lifestyle and the curriculum takes place over weeks, months and years, until finally it reaches the dimensions and proportions desired by every family practicing homeschooling today.
At some point during homeschooling, usually after several years, parents and their students reach a state of ease and confidence. I refer to this as “reaching auto-pilot”, meaning that the rigors and demands of schooling grow less obvious, and begin to merge with the practice of families living their everyday lives. Homeschooling and learning become more natural, less worrisome and going through the motions becomes far easier to do.
Though the fundamentals of homeschooling have not changed, and state or local regulations always remain a part of the scenery, families reaching auto-pilot begin to relax into homeschooling. They begin testing its boundaries, venturing in new directions, forming new relationships with the universe of information, and reaching a state where homeschooling merely becomes what they do, and is no longer an activity or a chore that takes place only once per day.
Newcomers to homeschooling often find this very hard to believe. The first year of curriculum selection, the accumulation of supplies, the scheduling of children, the mastering of subjects, and the filling of notebooks can be daunting to say the least. To look ahead several years and see a more comfortable pace and a more relaxed family seems unfathomable to those struggling with the first weeks and months of being parent, teacher, Principal, and chief cook and bottle-washer, too.
And yet auto-pilot happens. Beginning somewhere around the third year and reaching optimal capacity some years later, it really happens. Surprisingly, it is not even noticeable at first. But as the years go on, and parents reach a time where they are able to step back and observe, and children reach a point where they begin reaching for resources on their own, hints of it become more visible. Over time, as lives become richer and fuller, they become more natural and less chaotic at the same time. It’s a natural evolution in a sense, and happens in every household where homeschooling takes place for more than just a few years.
When counseling families and supporting parents, we must always remember to emphasize the leveling-off that occurs on the learning curve after the first several years. Fearful of the commitment or worried about the responsibility, new homeschool parents have enough to think about already. Reasurrance that the lifestyle is just as gentle and just as relaxed as one wants it to be is a must, lest new parents may not understand the learning curve is only temporary. Support in knowing that a state of ease and comfort is only a short distance away may help parents to understand that beginning to homeschool is much like learning anything new, and that time eventually brings about the sense that they’ve been doing it all their lives, just like learning to read, riding a bicycle or anything else that becomes second-nature.
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