Today marks the one-year anniversary of hswotrainingwheels.com. Wow. What do you think when you read that? Do you think (like I do) “A whole year already?” or do you think, “Only a year? Does this girl even know what she’s doing?” A valid question! Let’s chat a minute.
For years, I pushed aside the idea of writing a homeschool blog. I had nothing against those who wrote them, but I knew myself. I was afraid that if I started a blog, it would only be as a way to validate myself – to prove to the world that I was doing something worthwhile.
I imagined that I’d put pressure on myself to have Pinterest-worthy craft projects (and take fantastic pictures of them) to go on life-changing field trips and to have a super organized schedule, with everything in a washi-tape adorned planner.
Since that just isn’t my style, I worried that writing a homeschool blog would make me into some kind of a fake or a hypocrite. What actually developed, however, was far different!
Losing the Training Wheels
As I’ve shared before, the 2015-2016 school year was a killer one for a number of reasons, mostly my health and the number of kiddos who had reached school age in our homeschool. I was at a breaking point and something had to change. I had to step away from some of the “traditional” methods we were using (especially for math).
I justified the changes I was making as valid because we were in survival mode. I started writing about them on a free blog mostly so I could share with a few family members who could give me some feedback. One day a friend asked if I could tell her some about how I was doing math these days, so I pointed her to the blog. And she told a friend.
Even as my health improved and life returned to some sort of equilibrium, I realized that what we had going was actually a pretty great fit for us. It had taken extreme circumstances to give me the impetus to “de-school” a bit. But on the other side, we found ourselves in a much freer, much more flexible place.
The Buffet of Ideas
I began to realize that what I had to offer in terms of a homeschool blog wasn’t an expert opinion on the way to homeschool, but rather just another voice about a way that homeschooling could happen. Come to find out, that’s really what most homeschool mom blogs offer – each of us is sharing her own personal flavor. You, the reader, get to go down the buffet line and choose – a la carte – what fits your family.
My friend Shelly wrote a really interesting post last week called “What Exactly IS a Homeschool Expert” about her experiencing writing an article on homeschooling for a parenting magazine and what they considered an “expert source” for her footnotes (don’t get me started). I don’t have a degree in home education. My experience extends only through homeschooling middle school. So I’m not writing as an expert.
But I do have some experience and I’ve found that that experience is worth sharing. I kind of feel like the sample lady at Costco. Because of my role as a blogger, curriculum companies and program developers want me to share their product with my readers. I get to learn about the products, and then offer readers a test-taste to see if it would go with the meals they are crafting for their homeschools.
Who Cares How I Do It?
I remember once watching a Periscope broadcast by a really well-known homeschool mommy-blogger. She was hosting a Q&A session. I knew what question was coming. People always ask “celebrity” homeschoolers one question:
What curriculum do you use?
At that point in my homeschooling life, I was breaking free of restrictions and setting out to chart my own course, and I found the question irritating and irrelevant.
I longed to hear her say something like, “Well, it doesn’t really matter what curriculum I use. There are millions of options out there, and we just picked what works best for us. Each family can do the same.” But she didn’t. She briefly gave an outline of English, math, history and science programs.
In my fledgling break for freedom, I scoffed, thinking that this was a mark of her arrogance – enjoying a measure of authority over other homeschool moms that she shouldn’t have had. I thought she was asking them to follow her blindly, rather than empowering them to trust their own judgement and wisdom.
While some of this may exist in the homeschool blogging world, I now see that wasn’t what she was doing. See, when you start talking about a philosophy of homeschool, a method, an approach, a mindset, inevitably, people begin asking,
“But what does that look like on a day to day basis?”
“How do I go about implementing something like that?”
“What resources have you found helpful to support that way of teaching?”
Some people can discuss theory and then go an make their own application. But for others, it really is most helpful to start out with some training wheels – just long enough for them to get their balance.
And so, that’s how this blog began to evolve. Suggestions. Ideas. Possible tools. A buffet.
But You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It
Each of us is different in temperament. Our backgrounds, histories and homeschool experiences tell different stories. For some of us, ideas are helpful. For others, ideas can be burdensome and oppressive.
I get it. I’m the kind of girl that feels a tiny bit guilty when I taste a sample at Costco and then don’t follow the sample lady’s instructions to find my own box down on the frozen foods isle. But that’s my issue, not hers.
While I can’t necessarily control the reactions of each of my readers, I really do hope to share in a way that allows you to glean what you find helpful and leave what doesn’t work without a shred of guilt.
To be honest, I sometimes feel nervous when someone says, “We switched to doing it the way you wrote about in that post.” Eek! What have I done?
Well, hopefully what I’ve done is given someone a new idea. Something to try. A starting place from which to experiment and adapt their own way. You know, training wheels. Meant to be discarded when they are no longer useful.
Help Me Celebrate?
So, that’s what this year of blogging has looked like in a nutshell. And since I’m celebrating this milestone, it seemed like some gifts would be in order! Let’s do this hobbit style, where I give gifts to you, my guests!
I wish I could give a big gift to everyone, but instead, I have one big gift and a giveaway to win it! I’ve compiled a bunch of things that represent what I’ve shared on the blog recently and things that have been helpful/meaningful to me this year.
Here’s what’s included:
- One paperback copy each of Addition Facts that Stick and Subtraction Facts that Stick.
- One copy each of A Gracious Space: Fall and Winter editions.
- A 7-port USB Hub charger for seven devices (this one)
- A $25 Amazon gift card for … a new board game? Or anything you choose!
Once you enter your contact information, there are two ways to earn more entries in the giveaway:
- Leave a comment below, letting me know how you came across this blog or something you’ve found helpful here. (Reader feedback is so important to a blogger and would be a lovely “gift”!)
- Share this post (using your special link provided in the giveaway) so that other folks can have a chance to check out Homeschooling without Training Wheels, too. (Sharing by word of mouth is also huge for a blogger, so I’ve allowed a lot of possible entries earned for sharing: up to 18!)
Best wishes, everyone! Thanks for coming to my party!
Blog Birthday Giveaway!