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Writing About Children Learning and Growing in Nature

Why Homeschooling is the Hardest Form of Teaching, The Answer Might Surprise You

Kathy Donchak

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You belong because you don’t belong.

My work since 2009 has been a series of consulting gigs in educational publishing. I have a love-hate relationship with the world of public education. 

Love for the teachers who saw me and made me feel like I belonged and was smart, creative, or talented. Hate for the bureaucratic nonsense that has taken the place of allowing teachers to see kids. 

Love for access to the latest research into how children learn. Hate for the systematic methods that suck the life out of great teachers and students every day. 

Love for the great teachers who despite all the influences to their craft still rise above and connect with kids in their classroom every day. Love for the small independent publishers, nurturing writers who can tell a story that gets to the hearts and minds of children.

I bought Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, more than a month ago, and finally cracked it open. It was weirdly calling to me. If you love a good book, you know this is true. This book has had me laughing, and crying. Not in the blubbering, lose your stuff kind of way, but the holy crap I needed to read this kind of way.

Homeschooling is hard because you come face to face with yourself, and every anxiety, fear, and unworthy thought you ever had. You can’t run from it. You see it as you try desperately to make sure your child is happy, that they belong, and that they matter. 

Holy goodness, that is a lot of pressure for the whopping annual salary of $0.00 a year.

I never consider this part of homeschooling. I never thought who I would meet and I find fascinating was someone I would never have been friends with otherwise. That I would learn something every time I saw her. 

As homeschooling moms, we don’t belong because the very nature of homeschooling requires that you are fiercely independent and don’t want to decide anything by committee! Nada, nothing, zilch! 

It is why I could not be a classroom teacher. I would go crazy or get fired or both. It is also why I am an excellent consultant. I see learning every day. I have my own laboratory, focus groups, and experts. 

“Don’t study this moment. Be in it.” Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Okay, now I am mad. I needed to read that. 

I get hired because I take daily dives into blogs, books, and research journals like some women pin things on Pinterest. I can’t help it. I have always been fascinated by teaching and learning, and the developing human. Is it a disability or the wrong method is always running around in my head. Weird, I get it, but no matter the job title I always end up teaching.

As a teen, I was a babysitter, and I taught swimming lessons all the way through high school. In my early adult life, I was a private piano, voice, and guitar teacher, a children's music director, a floral design teacher, a mortgage trainer, a teacher’s trainer, a nature school guide, and now a homeschool mom. 

I am sure I left something out because I teach everything I learn about. I can’t help it. Teaching is part of my DNA, but not traditional education but instead one-to-one coaching, guiding, and encouraging, that is my natural skill set.

But - I have to stop studying every moment and be in the moment more. Darn it Brene, here I go learning and teaching again.

Our sons are beautiful, crazy, mischievous, smart, funny kids and I need to remember that I learn by doing and seeing. Studying helps me put it into context and teach it, but guiding their learning and being present is where I learn.

Homeschooling is hard because you learn something about yourself every day, and some days you don’t like what you see. The gift of homeschooling is that your children see you for who you are and you belong to them. That is the only belonging that matters. The belonging of the people that form the family and hold it together. The two people that teach your kids the most important lesson. They belong here too.

If you haven’t read, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, what are you waiting for? Go over to Amazon and pick up your copy, and don’t be like me and wait to read it. You have some stuff to learn and consider having the tissue box nearby, just in case.