Updated: Sep 21, 2021
One of the toughest things I've felt on my homeschooling journey, is occasional and sometimes prolonged periods of inadequacy. I would like to think of myself as an intellectual person. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a rocket scientist and I would probably only ever achieve an average IQ in a test, but I know enough and have enough common sense to have achieved in my life.
So where does the inadequacy come from? Let's start with maths. I am totally rubbish at maths, I always have been and I always will be. But I can honestly say I have never needed to know long multiplication on the spot. I have never needed to whip out a protractor and I certainly haven't beat myself up for not knowing what a meter is without using something to measure it. I use a calculator just like everyone else. Or a spreadsheet depending on the work involved.
I can honestly say that upon reflection, there is not a single thing I learned at school that I use in my day to day life, except perhaps reading. And let's be honest, you don't need school to teach you that. In fact, I am an excellent reader, writer and speller. I have published poetry, write countless formal letters every day in my work life and even write newsletters and magazines. But I could not read until I was seven. The teachers were pulling their hair out with me by all accounts, ready to give up. Then all of a sudden, I sauntered into school one day and just read without any problems whatsoever at all. I needed to learn in my own time. Everything I know about spelling, grammar and sentence construction comes from reading. I still could not tell you what a conjunction, preposition or pronoun is. Who really cares? Word will spell check all this for you anyway!
I have never felt the need to pop out, grab some wood and make myself a clock. I can honestly say that I have never popped into the kitchen and knocked myself up a bit of homemade washing up liquid. I couldn't cook until I was 30, despite being raised by a chef and with a sister for a cook. This is something I taught myself when I had my first child. And I have never, ever felt inadequate as a parent until I started homeschooling using the curriculum as a guideline.
That's the problem right there isn't it? The National Curriculum. The holy grail of learning, achieving and the standard by which our children are measured for success. I really wish I could completely step away from the National Curriculum. For the most part, I do. I don't follow it for day to day learning, we do our own thing at our own pace and when we do, I never feel like I'm not enough. But when it comes to math and english, well, that's a whole other story. Suddenly I'm having to look up on YouTube the ridiculously long methods used to divide and multiply and everything else they've changed since the nineties. I still don't understand it, therefore, I can't teach my children and this leaves me feeling inadequate. What's frustrating about it is, that I know in my heart, unless my children are going to become doctor's or scientists they will probably never need to know these methods at all.
I read a question in a book the other day that asked what the 'speech was' of the word alter. What does that even mean? It just made me feel stupid. Why, as a parent, should I have to feel this way? Our children must feel this way when they are amongst the select few that 'don't get it'. Left feeling dumb and secondary to their peers and for what? To learn information they will probably never need anyway? You might be sitting here thinking, well don't teach them the curriculum then. Just a reminder, I don't. But when it comes to maths and english, I've tried to stick with the methods taught in the curriculum incase my children decide to go to high school. Because we all know, despite how they get to the answer, whether it's right or wrong, they will be made to use the workings out only the school approves of, to get to the answer. And that is what I do not agree with. If children can figure out an answer that's right, in a way that makes sense to them, then let them!
So, how does homeschooling make you feel? For the most part, I feel great about it. I feel closer to my children than ever before and I really feel I'm making a difference to their lives. But I just can't shake these awful feelings of inadequacy that creep in from time to time. Do you ever feel this way? How do you cope with it? I would love to know! Comment and let me know.
Thanks for reading.