I recently learned that there are natural stages of growth for home educators. First you jump in with enthusiasm, and your excitement is usually enough to overcome any initial bumps in the road that come up. Then you play school, or follow a specific method. And during that time you learn about the opportunities the method offers, but also the limitations. Then you swap curriculums and learn more about what works or doesn’t work for you and your learners. At some point, you (hopefully) start trusting yourself.
I feel like we are just starting to enter the stage of trusting ourselves. Letting go of ideological purity of a particular method or the anxiety of messing everything up and trusting my kids and my own intuition about what is needed for their growth right now. Hopefully this means that things will be more relaxed, while maintaining high standards for ourselves and our development. (Incidentally, it sounds like you cycle through these stages again when you decide to homeschool high school. You can watch this Julie Bogart video to learn more.)
The kids got to attend a local middle school for a day last week and it was very insightful. It helped us to articulate why we are still homeschooling and what we want (and don’t want) from our middle school experience. While we love the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling, our philosophy of what it takes to raise good leaders and learners is fundamentally at odds with formal schooling. The natural process of learning is about making sense of the world and your place in it. It isn’t about judging our performance or comparing ourselves to others, but encouraging growth. We want our middle school experience to revolve around big questions of personal interest. I am working hard to create an environment that inspires confidence, competence, and intrinsic motivation. I want the kids to take risks and get feedback about what is working and how to adapt and grow. My hope is that the kids will be reflective, observant, curious and most of all, happy. It feels like we are on the right track.