Homeschool 2020: Welcome to the Circus


Homeschool 2020: Welcome to the Circus“It’s been a complete dumpster fire,” I said to my husband when he called at 4pm on our first day of homeschool, year 2020. 

The truest lesson I have learned from three years of homeschooling is to expect nothing more than a dumpster fire on the first day. All the magic, gentleness and “sense of wonder” you see from IG stories or Facebook posts will probably not be the reality for many of you. I can vouch for all of our four years of the First Day of School going just about as well as potty training a toddler.

There is a lot of buildup, necessary materials purchased, schedules in place…all to be upended by the ever-present and discouraging reality that learning something takes a lot of time. And it isn’t always — in fact it’s mostly never — fun. 

We started our day with a crying baby who didn’t nap long enough, a tearful seven-year-old who forgot how to spell, an overeager kindergartner who needs his own tutor to match the eagerness, and a bored third grader who can’t believe we have to start school again. Oh yes, and a potty training toddler, who went through four pairs of underwear before the end of the school day. We struggled through overlapping lessons, where mom was needed to listen and to explain at the same time. We lost pencils that were supposed to last for at least a couple of weeks. We gave up on certain parts of school on the first day and skipped lessons or activities that were just too much for now.

It was not magical, it was not glorious or enviable or memorable. 

I did all the things ahead of time that should have made the day great: special activities, prizes, dinner in the crockpot and an early morning exercise and quiet time for me. “It should have gone well!” I complained to my husband after he came home with celebratory Oreo milkshakes and arms to hold the baby. His commiserating response, which was exactly what I needed to hear, was, “It’s a really hard job.” 

It is. Homeschooling is hard.

Like many, many, many jobs that responsible adults find themselves adapting into. And we will adapt to homeschooling. The first few weeks are an absolute circus with things needing to be balanced, caught, or tumbled together into a working mess of learning, while each little (and large) person is trying to find a rhythm of how life is now going to be lived for the next nine months. Thankfully, each day doesn’t have a grading scale of pass/fail; we get plenty of time to measure progress and we get to change things that don’t work and continue on in what does. And comfortingly, I don’t *think* I can ruin my child’s education in a day. 

So, to all you newbies or veterans who are enjoying the 24-hour presence of your prodigy over the next nine month, here’s to us. May we survive, possibly even thrive, amidst the family circus that we have chosen.

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Hi, I am Elizabeth! I am married to a Chattanooga fire fighter, and mother to four boys and a princess who test my sanity and patience on an hourly basis. To keep my head above the waters of parenting, I get lost in books and try to articulate my thoughts into words with meaning. Our daily activities include playing outside, wrestling, sword fighting and trying to time everything to produce the most sleep at night. Follow me on Instagram @BossMom_247 for insights on living with boys, possibly a few rants and definitely an overabundance of baby girl pictures.