Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Little Validation Goes A Long Way


One of our many virtual calls with our assistant homeschool teacher.

I've been at this homeschool mom thing for four months now and have learned A LOT. Not just about homeschool either, but about life, myself, textbooks, gaping holes in our education system. It's been eye opening, wonderful, hard, fun, exhausting, and invigorating. But am I doing it "right?" Parents can second guess themselves about all of the decisions they make. Now, think about being both mom AND can imagine how much I could second guess myself.

Luckily, I don't second guess myself very much in motherhood or homeschooling, but there are moments I still worry that maybe I'm not teaching them enough? Am I forgetting to teach them something valuable they'll need in life??

Last August, when we made the decision to homeschool, we decided to homeschool through our school district. In doing so, we have access to curriculum, textbooks, resources, and best of all, a teacher that oversees our homeschool lessons. She doesn't teach them, she's only there to answer questions I may have about teaching, she checks in with the kids to make sure they're learning, and provides transcripts for their school records. Our homeschool teacher is the one who has kept our homeschool life on track. She has been my cheerleader and the MVP in our lives since August. 

With the end of our first homeschool semester nearing, it was time to get all of reports in and we had a (virtual) meeting to make sure the records were accurate. Basically, she pulled up our year long education plans and compared them to where we are right now. She asked everything we've been doing in all areas/subjects. So, I went over it subject by subject, with the minis chiming in about certain things they like(d) or didn't like.

Me: Well, they do Duolingo for Spanish each day.                                               

Teacher: They also did American Sign Language earlier this year too. Remember? When you did a special unit on The Miracle Worker over fall break?

Me: Oh gosh, I completely forgot about that. Then, for Science we've done rocks, minerals, planets, animals/environmental sciences, and we're about to start microorganisms. For Social Studies, we've got American History and currently Africa, but we also did World Studies. 

Teacher: Right, you also have done some extras with worksheets and State Parks, correct?

Me: Yes! I forgot about that too.

Teacher: So, all of that not only counts for hands on Social Studies, but also Sciences. I know where the kids are for math* What about some of the other things? Violin and music class, typing/computer, gym, and art?

** the kids do online programs for math (Khan Academy and Alecs), with reports sent directly to the district

Me: Eh, Max hasn't practiced violin much, but that will start in the middle of January with lessons. We did World Instruments for the first eight weeks of school, but now the kid are only playing a music note game that we downloaded...

Teacher: Oh that's excellent! That totally counts as music, plus the kids have told me they listen to all kinds of music throughout the day.

Me: Oh yeah, I always do have music playing.

Teacher: Yes, that's so importatnt to expose them to all types of music. Great job! And that music notes game, send me the details on that. I can recommend that to my other families.

Me: I'll text it to you as soon as we're done! So, we gave up doing typing each day just because of time, but they're required to use the computer for different things such as math each day, typing papers, and we've been working a lot of research. As in, thoroughly researching things they have questions about.

Teacher: I have researching down as a skill they've acquired since August actually. I put that in my notes last month after my meeting with them. When kids are in a school setting, they don't always get the opportunity to research unless it's a homework assignment. Oh, and before I forget, I also put that they've acquired the skills to work independently with written directions. These are amazing skills for them to have at such a young age. Great job!

Me: Thanks! Now, for gym and art. Oh gosh, we go hiking every weekend and have been trying different terrains...well, as different as you can get in Iowa. Anyways, they do Cosmic Kid yoga...

Middle Mini: Oh yeah, we do a lot of Cosmic Kids! It's really great. Elizabeth got a yoga mat for Christmas because she does yoga a few times a week. Max and I got snowboards, so my mom makes us do snowboarding videos on YouTube two times a week so we don't face plant anymore. My mom still face plants though.

Me: Okay, moving on to art.

** It needs to be noted that the teacher at this point was visibly trying not to laugh at me.

Art we've been doing a lot of still life drawings and how to draw videos from YouTube. They also got sewing kits and have been learning to sew a bit, but the oldest is the only one who really knows how at this point. They also have been making tie blankets. They watched a lot of tutorials and figured out different ways to do them by themselves.

Teacher: That is so awesome! So, I'm also going to add that you've been doing Family and Consumer Sciences. You managed to do both art and that class together. The kids told me last time that they cook one dinner a week themselves, correct?

Me: Yes...

Middle Mini: Actually, it's been like two or three dinners a week and usually one or two breakfasts by ourselves. Pretty soon we're probably going to have to cook every meal since we're home ALL OF THE TIME. 

** Keep in mind that our call happened after a 14 day quarantine. Also, the teacher was cracking up at us.

Teacher: This is all so wonderful! Do you realize how much they're learning just by these daily things you do? You're all doing a great job! I'm so happy to see you all happy and healthy on my screen. We'll see you in two weeks to cement the reports, but this all looks so wonderful. Great job for everything you have all learned!

[End call]

The validation I (and the minis, who deserve so much credit for their awesomeness) received during that call took any doubts I had away. More than anything, it gave me confidence not only in being my children's teacher (and currently, one of their only teachers), but in how my husband and I parent our children. After a life in your typical educational setting, I have trouble remembering that homeschool learning can look much different than in a crowded classroom. How children and people in general learn are impacted by their environments and every day exposures. While I know all of this, the validation reaffirmed my teaching confidence.

While a compliment is always appreciated (and sometimes needed), this validation from someone who knows what they're doing raised my own confidence with simple words and praises. I've been thinking a lot about that call the last two days and how I felt a weight was lifted off of me. A weight I didn't even know I bore. I've added a new goal to 2021 and it's to give others validation in what things that they're doing. Whether it be parenting, their jobs, a problem that needs solved, etc. Not just showing appreciation or gratitude, but reaffirming other's actions and beliefs when I see or hear them doing good things. 

New goals for the new year, new feelings and new confidence. No small goals this year, only big goals for growing.