The thing that surprised me most about homeschooling was the one thing I didn’t have on my radar at all when we started nine months ago. Well not really, not to the intensity that it is in reality.
Starting to homeschool is a scary time for many. There are so many unknowns, so much pressure, so much judgment. We moved into homeschool slowly. Starting with part time then moving to full time last March.
I thought I was prepared, I thought I knew what was coming, but I was still taken by surprise.
The thing that surprised me most about homeschooling was how much my kids need to move!
I’d read lots about the need for physical exercise, fresh air, etc. Having children with sensory issues and anxiety I was aware of their need to move and expend those floods of cortisol and anxious energy.
I never expected that the need to move would mean moving and fidgeting every 5 minutes!
Over the last few months I’ve filled my homeschool room with fidget toys. I put fidget toys on our homeschool table and let the kids play with them while working.
I use small stools that allow the kids to wriggle, wiggle, slide around, stand, spin and move about easily.
My schedule never involves more than 20 minutes of work before we get up and move. We do floor puzzles, play a game, do yoga, even clean the house. Whatever we need to get up and get moving.
Daily novel read out-louds are full of busyness and movement. My youngest builds forts with blankets or rolls around on the floor wrapping himself up in blankets like a tortilla. My oldest is bouncing and pacing as he analyzes and discusses plot points, character motivation and any references that spark a question or tie into something else he has studied.
We have just started reading Hardy Boys, my oldest is constantly moving being the detective and figuring out all the secrets and hidden pieces of the stories!
What’s interesting is that my youngest with all of his sensory and special needs caused by a complex developmental trauma disorder, can sit still longer when he is really focused on learning. In contrast, my oldest who is gifted becomes very busy and mobile the more he is learning and the more involved he gets in his learning. I’ve discovered that the greater his passion for a subject, the more space I need to give him to pace and move. His excitement for learning is a very visible thing when it happens!
This surprise has given me insight into why my oldest struggled so much in school. When he would become engaged and passionate about learning in the classroom, he would get punished for moving. Part of him saw this as punishment for learning and being engaged, so he disengaged and started hating learning.
What doesn’t surprise me now, is why he had such a severe anxiety disorder when he was in school.
To address this constant need for physical activity, I have the kids out almost every day of the week. My introverted self, who hates our cold, cold Canadian winters, would rather stay home, but my kids need the activity, change of scenery and movement. So I plan things like swimming, snowboarding, skiing, skating, drumming, dodgeball, basketball, baseball, playground visits, and more. Our schedule is to homeschool in the mornings and “get moving” in the afternoons and evenings.
And even after all these months I’m astounded at the boys’ constant need to move.
So that’s the thing that surprised me most about homeschooling.
If you homeschool, what is the one thing that has surprised you the most?