15 Years of Research in the Homeschool “Lab” by Cyndy Weiss of Richmond, Washington

As a “research associate in the field of child development and human relations”, some days my research seems more productive than others. My younger lab assistants continually challenge my theories. My able teen-age lab assistants are truly helpful and quick to point out where I can improve. Of course, research in the field (excursions to the science center, camping trips, park days, etc.) is always great fun.

Preliminary “lab reports” from my 15 year experiment has given me the courage to stay in the laboratory and keep on experimenting. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
• Increase tolerance for noise, confusion, dirty walls, and unclean windows. The great “unmaker” is far superior to all of my attempts at organization. Patricia Clafford put it so well: “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”
• Make a conscious decision ask yourself over and over, “Does this really matter?” and only give energy to things that really do matter. I truly believe I have enough time to do what is most important.
• Catch your children doing right things. Nothing improves a child’s hearing more than praise.
• Remember—you are not having “school at home.” You are choosing a different way. Experiment with your options and your confidence will grow.
• “Trust your children!”
• Take time to pursue your own interests. Be a role model of a true homeschooler—discovering in your own areas of interest.
• Have your own quiet time daily. Be strict about “Mom’s Time”. Daily fill up your own cup so you are more patient with those who are so demanding.
• Interruptions always happen—plan enough time for them.
• Make a “What NOT to do” list to help you in prioritizing or putting “FIRST THINGS FIRST”. No matter how hard you try, you never will get it all done.
• Ask: “What is most important during this season of my life?” Choosing between two good things is much needed skill in an era full of wonderful opportunities. One thing that helps me is to go to a quiet place and ask myself, “What is happening to me because of what I am choosing to spend my life on? Am I becoming a better person because of choosing this activity?”
• Do not compare yourself with others. Let go of self-condemnations that come with judging yourself by other’s standards. You are unique. Your home based education will be uniquely.
• Your individual worth is not dependent upon your performance or the performance of your children. Understanding this is key to allowing your children the freedom to teach themselves what they need to know.

These are some of the important things I have learned in my Homeschool Laboratory. I’m sure you could sit down and compose your own list. Please share it with me and other homeschoolers. We’re all still learning what works and what doesn’t work as well. So, put on that white lab coat and have a great day in your “Lab”!

Cyndy and Mark Weiss have 3 children using public high school and junior high school resources for music, lab science and foreign language; 6 more full-time homeschoolers range from 2-11 years of age. One daughter is a sophomore on academic and music scholarship at Univ. of Puget Sound in Tacoma and an 18 year old son works full time at Microsoft.

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