A friend who is considering homeschooling recently asked me, “You’ve been homeschooling now for a few years. What’s the best advice you ever received in that whole time?”
Thinking back on the last couple years, there has been a lot of homeschooling advice that covers a lot of things. There have been conversations about what homeschooling method is best, how to choose the right curriculum, and whether or not a homeschool co-op is necessary. There have been numerous suggestions on age-appropriate screen time, fun ways to review what you’ve studied, and how to help your kids learn independence.
But I would have to say the best advice I ever received about homeschooling had to do with cake.
Cake, you may ask. To help with homeschooling?
When my husband and I were first researching the option to homeschool our kids, I attended a local meeting held by a few veteran homeschooling parents. The prospective homeschooling families in attendance asked all the usual questions :
How will I know my kids are learning?
How do I homeschool multiple kids at once?
What subjects do I have to teach them, and what schedule do I follow?
What about homeschool socialization?
Can I really teach them when I'm not great in a subject?
After the many questions were answered, one veteran mom gave her most important advice to the group.
“There are going to be times you will feel like you’re failing, and nothing is going right. Those are the times you’re going to have to scrap everything and go get some cake. You need to know that’s totally okay and you'll be glad you did.”
Now, when she first said it, I didn’t think much of it. In fact, I was so gung-ho to start the homeschooling thing, I just jumped in with both feet, not really expecting to ever have one of those disaster days. So, I might have all but forgotten what she said about cake.
Until it happened.
Friends, trust me we all struggle at some point in our homeschooling journey. There are times we all question how we ever thought we could be successful homeschoolers, and there are times we want to throw in the towel. Sometimes we have a rough day, and other times it’s a rough year. Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we just need a break.
We need cake.
I remember the first time we actually scrapped what we were doing and went out for cake. It seemed counter-intuitive. I couldn’t hardly wrap my head around it.
How does setting something aside help us to stay on the path?
How does putting something away help my kids to learn perseverance and follow through?
When we’re having a rough time and at each other’s throats, doesn’t going out for cake reward our less than awesome attitudes?
Won't this put us further behind than we already are?
Will they misbehave to get a treat now?
Here’s the thing—going out for cake provides a change of scenery. Going out for cake hits everyone’s reset button. Going out for cake gives you perspective and reminds you that nothing about homeschooling is so serious or important that relationships or sanity should be put on the line for it. It helps us all come together over the love of cake and remember the reasons we decided to homeschool.
Cake isn’t just for younger homeschoolers...
Here’s a little secret: you won’t go out for cake only when your kids are 5 or 8 or 10. There are times when your kids are 13 or 15 or 17 that you will still need to scrap what you’re doing and go out for cake. The chaos in and challenges of homeschooling don’t go away simply because your kids get older; the chaos and challenges are just different.
Laughing together over a mini bundt or a giant slice of cake is a great way to remember that even though your son doesn’t understand algebra at all—and you’re thinking you might stab your eye out while you’re trying to teach it to him—you still both really love each other, and you’re glad you have the option to be learn this stuff at home.
Cake is also a nice reminder that life continues on, with or without a complete grasp of algebra, American history, or the diagramming of sentences.
I encourage you to stick this little piece of cake advice in your back pocket to pull out for a day you need it. Because there will come a time in your homeschooling journey that you’ll need to scrap everything and go for cake.
And take it from me—a few years in, I can vouch that it’s totally okay.