We recently had a really fun experience: The Land of Nod came out to set up a homeschool room in our home, then did a photo shoot of the room and us for their upcoming catalog. We’ve been planning this with them since the end of September, so we decided in the meantime to hold off on any “formal” homeschooling until then.
By formal I mean something I planned. We feel learning is an all day part of life.
After the room was finished and now that the holidays are over, I decided to start Bella where I would as a teacher with students her age. Since we are homeschooling, we don’t have to follow the Sept-May rule, or that you must turn a year older by October 1st for the grade. Bella is ready for Pre-K stuff and she is 4, never mind that it’s January.
The afternoon I chose to start our first day of homeschool was a bit nerve-wracking for me. I’d planned out our 3 days, had printables, projects, all kinds of links, videos pulled up on my computer to show her, even the crayons were set out neatly. I was just so excited to have our own little space to do this. We’d been using the couch or her tiny Ikea table for so long, it felt nice to have a real table with enough room.
It’s a strange feeling to teach your own child after teaching a roomful. Even at the same ages, it can be hard to switch to just one. Suddenly you realize how big of a responsibility this is. There is absolutely no one to blame for her education or disposition – it’s all me.
She woke up from nap and had a snack, I prepped dinner. I’d told her beforehand that we’d be in the room for school after this, and she was looking forward to it.
We headed into the room and she stopped to look at her toys.
“I can bring my dinosaurs?” she asked. I hesitated, but thought maybe if I let her we wouldn’t get anything done. I wanted to get off to a good start, be proactive.
“To watch us?” I asked back.
“To play with.”
“No,” I said gently but firmly, “but you are welcome to play with them after!” Yay! I was so great at this! Set boundaries with an option!
TOTAL AND COMPLETE MELTDOWN.
You would have thought I’d told her that she wasn’t able to breathe while in the room. She fell on the floor bawling in rage as I sat on the beanbag, book in hand, papers stacked neatly on the table behind her.
At first I didn’t know what to do. I’d dealt with a lot of reactions in school before. One little guy (who ended up being a favorite of mine) had to leave kindergarten on the first day about 2 minutes in because he was so upset. But what about when it’s your own kid? You tend to freeze up. I have enough guilt about her, this surely wasn’t going to help.
As she sobbed and whined, I just started to giggle. Not at her, but at me. At my ideals and thoughts of how perfect this was all going to be. Surely she’d have bad days, but not the first day! That it was going to be just magical. Books and crayons and glitter and unicorns. We’d walk out an hour later with crafts that Pinterest would go crazy over.
She calmed down as I gathered my senses and plowed forward. I invited her to sit and snuggle with me while we read, and we ended up having all kind of fun reading about the Inuit people, making “sea mussels” as she called them, talking about walking on the sea floor, and watching all kinds of fun related videos.
I learned quickly that she needed to still have familiar stuff with her. My friend and fellow homeschool mom of 3, Kim, later told me, “Next time have her bring the dinosaurs in. Some kids have to play while they listen in order to learn.”
Wise words. Even if the dinosaurs just watch us work, it might be a far better solution than my “No.”
I’m learning as we go, even at times more than Bella might be. Homeschooling is teaching me a lot too.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, Still Standing Magazine, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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