Friday, November 30, 2012

Let Me Boost Your Confidence

I am a homeschooling mother. I worry, I cry, I fuss, & I freak out. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever homeschooled their children can relate to that. We put a lot on our shoulders, we figure if we mess up we’ve ruined our children.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that all Mamma’s worry about that very thing. They worry that any hiccup or poor choice on their own behalf can scar their child for life. It happens. We make mistakes, we move on. Our children generally come out unscathed & as happy as they were before it ever happened.

Every two years the state sends someone around to our home to evaluate, with a home visit, how we’re doing & what we’re using to teach our children. It’s always an unsettling experience. Not because the people they send around are unpleasant, quite the opposite really. They generally are quick to put you at ease pointing out that they, too, once homeschooled their own children & they totally get that hands on experience in the real world is ten times more important then the textbook you thought would be a great idea.

Yet, it’s always unsettling wondering if you’ve forgotten something. Did you cover everything you should have. Did you keep enough records of what happened. Will they notice that we’re not nearly as far along in the math book as we’d like to be this year? Will they notice that after 2 solid years of spelling my child still spells you uoy? Will they care that that my 9 year old puts some kind of weapon in every picture he draws, or that there’s a king huntsman spider upon the speak her drew in art? Will they doubt my ability to do what I’ve been doing for the past 6 years? What if they tell me that I totally stink at my job? Will I be brave enough to smile or will I break down in tears & scream things like, “I know, I know, but you could have been kinder in how you told me!” 

None of that has ever happened though. Every time we open the door & let an evaluator in they are always pleasant & cheerful. They ask lots of questions, & one year I thought it was because I must not have shown enough work, but the women confessed after 80 minutes of chatting that she just enjoyed hearing my accent & so she kept asking me questions. 

This year wasn’t much different, but we had a new pile of nerves. The evaluator was new, to us. Our old faithful one had retired. It’s not that we were any less nervous inviting her into our home, but I’d stopped panicking & picking up shoes & socks before I let her in. The morning the new lady came I ran around in a hurried frenzy asking who spilled potato puff crumbs on the floor, I didn’t bother to ask why they ate potato puffs for breakfast. 

I demanded to know why children were still in their pjs when there was plenty of clean normal clothes to wear. I ran around telling my children to stop spazzing out while they gawked at me with a look of utter confusion on them until I tripped over a computer cord. At which point I probably would have asked who had the gull to put it in my way {never mind that I requested it} when Jayden announced, “She’s here!” 

We all put normal smiles on our faces & invited her in. We shared all the work we’ve accomplished over the past two years. We shared some minor struggles we’ve had in regards to teaching certain subjects to certain students. We shared an unreal amount of resources.

We laughed together over pictures of God eating atop the temple in the boys Bible books, or the handful of french fries he’s handing out after the miracle of bread & fish. Then she oohed over books she saw & asked about titles that really caught her eye. When she told us she loved our book selections, which are often like old friends to us it really boosted my confidence.

I don’t say this to boast, but to encourage. I confessed to her that it’d been a crazy wild year for us. That we’d started school in January like we always do, that we had a minor set back in the delivery of our Core curriculum. That we settled into a routine only to change math curriculums for some, spelling for others. We experienced the loss of my father, & learned to cope in ways we never thought possible. We received, at long last, a diagnosis for our child who’d hobbled along with reading for so long & had to learn new ways of helping him cope as we embaressed this new found information.

It’s all things you tend to take in your stride, but it’s not until someone puts the question to you, “How are you doing though?” That you have to stop & think. I don’t know about most of you, but I don’t take the time to stop & think about how I’m doing. I just am. That is not to say I walk through life blindfolded or immune, but you learn to cope with whatever comes in your path. 

I really had to stop & think about the question. “I’m okay.” was my response. I am okay. You learn to live the best you can in the situation you are currently thrown in. It’s not always easy, but you make do. Eventually things return to a form of normal that you can be at ease with, at least for a while. 

When our evaluator looked at me & said, ”I'd like to quit my job & come learn with all of you. These beautiful & yummy books are just calling out to be read & I can only imagine what a delightful time you have!" It made every tear we shed, every hurdle we climbed, & every bad day we had worth it. 

For there is nothing quite so as uplifting as hearing a stranger telling you, "You've got it right. You're not messing your kids up. You are doing an amazing job. Your kids have learned so much & it pours forth from them." I needed those words today, this week, this month, this year.

So I wanted to pass those words on to anyone reading this, because it’s true. You do have it right. You are not messing your kids up. You do an amazing job. Your kids have learned so much, & it does pour forth from them, all you have to do is stop & listen to them. Be amazed. Be empowered. Breathe.


Butterfly said...

That's wonderful and beautiful! Congratulations!!!!

Catherine said...

It's always reassuring to have someone confirm that the kids are doing okay, isn't it... even though they blow us away all the time with how well they're doing it's nice to actually hear it from someone else.

I was a bundle of nerves leading up to our first review for Boy#1 earlier in the year. Hopefully I won't get in such a tizz when it comes to registering Boy#2 next year!

Alicia Helsley said...

Found you through Curriculum Choice. Thank you for writing this! So many days I wonder if I'm doing the right thing!

Mel said...

You can boost my confidence any time lovely lady! You are doing a great job...I can tell just by spending time with you and your wonderful boys :) <3

Belinda Letchford said...

Great blog post. I've included it in a link up but I'd like all my readers to read this!! Your experience is so much like ours, I was teary by the end. Not only a good job in educating your family but a good job in your heart to encourage others.

Ruby said...

Thanks for the encouragement! Our visiting teachers have been a blessing too and a real encouragement to keep the shoulder to the wheel. We all know a little bit of that goes a long way.

Catherine said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. We don't have inspections here in Victoria (.. but I secretly wonder if they'll come here eventually).
What a wonderful dose of encouragement for you all! I can relate a little when she said she liked your books. My teacher friends love seeing what we have as 'old favourites'. Homeschoolers really do have a fantastic opportunity to see a HUGE range of curriculum choices. :)