She held her breath just a little bit as she looked around the room, squeezing her mom’s hand just a little tighter for comfort. Colors, bright and cheerful winked at her from every place she looked. Tables and chairs just her size were waiting in one area of the room. The room felt warm, friendly, and inviting. Then she saw it. The corner. There was a thick rug on the floor inviting her to get comfortable, books nearby inviting her to read, but more than that, there was the big, red piano.
That first time that she saw that bright red, upright piano it was silent, but over the course of the year that she would spend in that classroom, that wonderful piano would play a huge role. A role of enjoyment and song, a role of encouragement and inspiration at the hands of the one who played it.
Inspiration comes to people in many different ways. Just like no two artists share the same exact motivation for picking up a brush to create, no two teachers have the same exact inspiration behind their decision to teach.
Yet even though the inspiration and motivation behind the teaching is different, the fact remains that everyone who loves what they do is inspired to begin in some way.
What is inspiration? It can mean a lot of different things to different people, but what does it mean the first place? According to dictionary,com, to inspire means to fill with animating, quickening, or exalting influence; to produce or arouse (a feeling or a thought); to influence or impel.
In other words, to be inspired is to have thoughts and feelings and desires well up in you that drive you to do the things that you do. It is a passion that bubbles up inside you and spurs you on. It gives you motivation on the tough days and is fueled even more on the good days.
To be inspired is to be influenced and motivated in a positive way towards a desire or dream that is in your heart.
Facing the Reality of the Ups and Downs
Which begs the question, what inspired you to teach? What inspires you to continue homeschooling? What keeps you going on those tough days? What fuels your fire on the good days? Why do you do what you do?
Let’s just be totally real here: As wonderful as homeschooling is, as much as you enjoy teaching your children and hanging out with them all day, there are days when homeschooling is downright tough. There are days where personalities clash and it’s a struggle to get through the day – not just the homeschooling part, but the living part! There are days when you wonder if you made the right decision in choosing to homeschool. There are days when it feels like it would be easier to take some other road.
And then there are other days: Days that stand out as a shining example and a beacon of hope. Days where everyone pays attention to their lessons and shows that they actually get the lesson that you’re trying to teach! Days when personalities don’t clash, but siblings willingly help each other to grasp a concept that may have been a struggle. Days when everyone listens as you read while the littlest one just wants to snuggle close the entire time. Days when it feels like you can take on the world and win.
Life is a series of ups and downs. You are going to have those horrid days when you wonder if anything you do is really making a difference and you are going to have those incredible days where everything just clicks and you feel like you can take on the entire world. But no one wants to live life on.a roller coaster! No one wants to live not knowing what’s coming around the bend, not knowing if there will be a steep climb or a massive drop off or a sharp left turn coming down the track.
So what do you do? How do you acknowledge reality (the ups and downs, twists and turns of homeschooling) while at the same time not giving in and allowing those same ups and downs, twists and turns to dictate your life, your attitude and your actions?
It all comes down to two elements: Your inspiration and your choices.
Why did you decide to homeschool? What led you to make this decision? And it’s a big decision, no doubt! Did you ever stop to ask yourself these questions? What drives you?
Did you decide to start homeschooling for the flexibility? Or was it a better fit for your lifestyle? Or have you always wanted to teach your own children? Or was homeschooling a better fit for your children’s learning or health needs? Have you always loved the idea of a one-room schoolhouse and wanted to recreate that in your own home? Did you have teachers that greatly influenced you and you wanted to pass that influence and inspiration on to others? Do you have a passion for learning that you wanted to pass along? Are you convinced that this is the right method of schooling for you and your family in this season of your life?
This is the beautiful thing about inspiration – your inspiration and motivation will look different than mine. Most likely, it will look different than anyone else’s! A motivation and inspiration that is completely unique to you. Such a beautiful thing!
Don’t miss this, though: In order to have that bedrock foundation that you can fall back on in the hard days, in order to know why you are doing what you are doing, you have to articulate why you chose to homeschool in the first place. And, yes, this means that you might need to write it down! Don’t just let it be some undefined reason floating around out there. Write down your reason! Write down why you homeschool. And don’t worry, no one but you has to see this, so it doesn’t have to be pretty!
On those days when it feels like everything is falling apart, like you’re not making a positive impact at all and you’re about ready to give up, you need something tangible, concrete, and written down to go back to. You need to be able to look at something that you wrote and remind yourself that, yes, some days are hard – very hard! – but there is a bigger reason, a bigger motivation, a bigger inspiration to why you are doing what you’re doing.
As important as inspiration and motivation are, inspiration and motivation alone will never get things done. These elements need to be combined with action.
You can be inspired by something, but if you never make the choice to do anything about it, inspiration remains just a great saying or a great pep talk.
You need to make a choice: A choice to keep going in the hard days. A choice to allow the good days to add to your inspiration and motivation. A choice to continue doing what you want to do: homeschool your children and homeschool them well.
My motivation and inspiration to homeschool is multi-facated! Two of the core factors that inspire me daily are the ability to create a self-paced learning space and incredible teachers that have had a great influence on my life.
You see, I am a very motivated, self-paced learner. One of the things that frustrated me about being in a typical classroom was the lack of self-pacing. You see, if I understood a lesson, I was ready to move on and learn more and tackle the next one. And yet, if the rest of the class did not understand the lesson, we had to wait before moving on, which felt frustrating to me. On the other hand, if there was a lesson that I needed a bit more time to grasp and the time came to move on, the class moved on to the next lesson whether or not I fully understood. This also caused me frustration. One of the great motivators for me is the ability to create a space for my children where they are guided and given a learning structure yet have the freedom to learn at their own pace, gaining mastery over a lesson before moving on to the next.
The other core factor that inspires me are the teachers that have poured into me. I have had many teachers through the course of my life – both in formal, classroom settings and in informal settings, but there are a few that have deeply, indelibly impacted my life and helped to shape me and shape the way that I teach.
My grandma started teaching over 75 years ago in a one room schoolhouse. And, yes, that number is accurate! My grandmother is coming up on her 93rd birthday, and, boy, does she have some stories to tell! Listening to her stories inspired me to not only teach, but to have everyone work together as much as possible (like a one room schoolhouse) to make the most of my time.
I still remember this book that I write when I was in Second Grade. My class read through a bunch of Berenstain Bear books and our incredible teacher had us make a book out of paper and write a book using the Berenstain Bear characters. It was my first foray into writing in a ‘real’ book form and I can still remember the enjoyment and creativity and love for writing that was fostered in me by that one assignment. Don’t get me wrong: The illustrating part of my book left much to be desired. I’m not gifted in the drawing arena! But I’ll never forget the fun and the excitement of getting to write my very own book. That wasn’t the first spark where I fell in love with writing, but Mrs. Edwards certainly helped to fan the flame of that creative side of me.
Then there is Jessica. Watching her enthusiasm and love for teaching shine through in homeschooling her children has been incredibly inspiring. But the thing that has been even more inspiring is watching how she never gave up. I watched from afar as many different situations and challenges came up in her life and in her family, ranging from the typical moving houses and local job changes to the unexpected of discovering learning challenges that her children faced. Yet, I watched as Jessica never gave up. I watched how she was real, she acknowledged the challenges head on, but she faced them with a strength beyond her own. She refused to give up on her calling to teach her children, but fought for them when they couldn’t fight for themselves. I learned more than anything the value of fighting for your children, of never giving up, and of pursuing close relationships with your children through the vehicle of homeschooling through her example.
And that little girl who was mesmerized by the big, red piano? That was me. That piano belongs to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Leslie. She is driven by a love for the children that is unparalleled! She had this way of making sure that we always got things done, we always had fun doing it, and that things never felt too rushed. That is no small feat when you are teaching a group of 20 or mote kindergarteners! One of the things that I remember the most are the markers that would sit on her desk. Whenever I would finish a worksheet, I would take it up to Mrs. Leslie at her desk, she would look it over and draw this big star on the top of the page with one of her colorful markers. Those stars were so simple, they were seemingly insignificant, yet they carried and conveyed such encouragement. And before you think that the piano just sat in the corner doing nothing, Mrs. Leslie incorporated singing into our day. Simple songs, to be sure, but something I’ll never forget.
I could go on and on telling you about teachers who took an interest in my education, teachers who demonstrated that they cared about me as a person, not just a mark in the attendance book, teachers who took the time to have real conversations with me, teachers who challenged me to read books in a different genre and more.
One Fact Remains
One fact stands out above all the others: No matter whether the teacher was in a formal classroom setting or music lessons, whether they were a homeschooling mom who taught by example or someone who encouraged me to reach beyond what I thought I could do, each of these people have marked my life and helped to shape how I teach my children. They each inspired me in a unique way.
But this isn’t just about me. You have people in your life who have helped shape you into the person you are today. You have people in your life who have helped shape the way that you teach. People that inspire you and motivate you, whether they know it or not.
What about you? Who inspired you to teach? What inspired you to teach? On those rough days where nothing seems to go right, how do you keep going? What things do you remind yourself of to find that inspiration, that motivation, that encouragement to keep going, to keep teaching, to not give up on yourself or on your children?
You can do this, my Friend!
You can homeschool. You can do it well.
And you know what? You are doing a fabulous job of it, too!
Just remember to always go back to why you do what you do to give you that motivation, that inspiration to keep going. Don’t give up!
- The One-Room Schoolhouse Approach
- Difficult Decisions: Homeschooling is Not for the Faint of Heart
- Learning: The Ultimate Goal
- How To Start Homeschooling: 10 Important Tips
- To the Frustrated and Overwhelmed Homeschooling Momma
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.