The most overwhelming aspect of this whole crazy adventure hasn’t been getting rid of all the stuff, figuring out what to pack or orchestrating the travel plans. Those have all seemed to unfold relatively well. We put one foot in front of the other and eventually it has all gotten done. Really there has been just one thing waking me up in the middle of the night and starting my wheels turning. HOMESCHOOLING.
I will admit that I am not a natural teacher of young kids. I guess I’m a “teacher” in the motherly, do-as-I-do sense of the word, and professionally I have a lot of experience training adults. However, sitting down and explaining an academic concept to a child is really not my forte. It usually starts off okay, but my girls can tell you about strained evenings at the kitchen table where their motivation and my patience both came up short and the result was a less than idyllic mother-daughter moment – and by “less than idyllic” I mean drama, tears and some muttered curse words.
Needless to say, this homeschooling thing was the one aspect of the trip that had me a little worried. While Brian and I know this experience will teach our girls so many things that can’t be taught in a classroom, we don’t want them to miss out on those things that ARE typically taught in a classroom. Even having spent a significant portion of my career working to support public education, I still didn’t feel confident in my ability to teach my own kids. Would they actually listen to me? What if I can’t explain something in a way that helps them understand it? Is it irresponsible to make them the guinea pigs of my teaching debut?
Then a good friend and colleague who happens to be an amazing teacher herself reminded me of something very important. In this day and age, the teacher doesn’t have to have all the answers! Enter my new favorite miracle of technology – Khan Academy! I knew this site was going to be a great resource for the girls’ education as we travelled, but until this week I had no idea how much it would revolutionize their learning in that oh-so-important subject of math. Admittedly math is the area where I have the least confidence in my ability to teach them, yet the most concern that they develop a love for the subject.
This week on Khan has recalculated my confidence. The girls are learning new things, I’m learning new things and maybe I’m starting to believe that having me as their teacher won’t set them back a grade. Right now Alison is prancing around singing a song she made up about counting by tens. Liv just saw she had a new “mastery challenge” waiting for her in her Khan dashboard and yelled out an enthusiastic “YES!” like she just won a trip to Harry Potter World.
The homeschooling thing is definitely looking up.