Beverly Paine’s article, Do you really need that resource?, in the November 2014 issue of Otherways really got me thinking and doing. As a result of reading her article, I have spent the last couple of months de-cluttering and organising our house and it feels like a much better place to spend time. Which is a good thing as we spend a lot of time here, living, loving and learning!
Beverley’s “less is more approach” to home education made me reflect on the essential ingredients of home education: What do we really need to be successful home educators?
I remember vividly the time when my eldest child, Airlie who is now nearly nine, was a baby. At the time I felt intense love for the precious bundle in my arms and, at the same time, I felt completely overwhelmed and out of my depth. How on earth was I ever going to know what to do? Midwives taught my husband and I to change nappies, and bathe our newborn but no one taught us how to love her, comfort her and cope with our own emotional rollercoaster as we entered the world of first time parents.
Inspirational blogs from super mums inspired and confounded me in equal measures. I admired all the wonderful things they were doing but felt helpless at my inability to achieve any of them. How was I ever going to amass all the things we needed to have a beautiful and happy home? Going from a successful, independent woman to someone without much of a clue was a huge shock!
I wish I could go back in time to the new mama I once was and tell her, “It’s okay. You have enough time to learn all you need, to be a good parent. Sure you will make mistakes but that bundle in your arms is gonna love you just the same. Just remember the love.” I really wish I had been brave enough to reach out for help when Airlie was little and that there had been someone in my life at that time who could have said those words to me. At the time, I was living in a newish city without old friends to call upon and I was too used to doing it all myself.
Similarly, I wish I could tell the mama I was three years ago, to trust my heart and go with home education. “Don’t worry, you can make it up as you go along. Just remember the love!”
Things are much, much different now. My husband has just quit his job so we can set up our own business. In the meantime we are both working part- time to support the family. I am really enjoying being out in the world and contributing to our finances. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. And it’s great having Gareth around a lot more. The kids are loving it too. We have made a conscious decision to create the life we would like to live now, with the kids, rather than waiting until retirement. Time for us to both spend time with them as well as working and following our passions.
As great as it will be, once we have ironed out the kinks, for now it is just more than a little overwhelming as I try to juggle paid work, the start of our home education year, the endless housework, activities, outings and my hobbies. I am reminded of my new mother and wanting-to-home-educate- but-too-afraid-to-try selves. This feeling of being overwhelmed is not new. And nor is the answer, “It’s okay, you’ll figure it out. Give it time. And remember the love.”
It is a really good reminder as I struggle to keep all my juggling balls in the air as is Beverly Paine’s advice that less is more. I don’t actually need all that fancy curriculum, the educational aids or the toys. The kids are happiest messing about in the park or turning a cardboard box into whatever their imagination dreams up.
So if I don’t need all that stuff, what do I need? Here, in no particular order, are my essential ingredients for home education (and life!): a sense of humour, a willingness to make mistakes and laugh at yourself, creativity, ingenuity, patience, time, kindness and flexibility.
But really, the most fundamental ingredient is love. The Beatles were right – love is all you need.