I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. As a manager I get completely annoyed when I pay someone to do something and they don’t check online first to see if someone else has done it. You have to be doing something pretty special for there to be no examples that are similar to what you’re doing. So steal it. Start with whatever someone else has, and then customize it for yourself.

The world is full of templates if you look at it that way. Unfortunately school tells us that is plagiarism or cheating, but in the real world, it’s just being smart.

There are templates for resumes.

There are templates for how-to videos.

There are even templates for becoming a bestselling author.

The reason templates exist is to establish best practices. People make templates because they know what they are doing. Use them. Or at least take a look before you start something from scratch.

When I started homeschooling I looked for templates. I spent a lot of time on that. But I noticed is that the only templates we have for education are the national curricula, which assumes a teacher is somehow better than a parent. Or the Christian curricula which assumes a Christian is better than a non-Christian. And I was not going to feel good about using either of those templates.

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. But when I have no choice, I can do it. But I think most of my journey in homeschooling has been recognizing that I’m doing okay without a template.

Here are some of the questions I’ve had to answer for myself:

What counts as homeschooling? 

I quickly realized that my vision of a one-room schoolhouse was not happening.  Even as a six-year-old my son wanted to clothes shop all the time, and he felt no purchase was complete without a photoshoot.

I took so many photos of our weekly trips to the GAP that I considered doing a weekly GAP photo on this blog. But then shopping trips stretched into hours because he made me document everything he tried on.

I worried I had created a monster.

I played homeschooler mind games. Like telling myself that with a tight budget he could learn some math. Or diversified clothing stores means diversified learning opportunities.

But it was positively freeing when I realized that loving to buy clothes is really typical of people with his personality type. (ESFP) And knowing a kid’s personality type makes parenting with confidence so much easier. After that, I didn’t feel like I was responsible for making him a clothes horse. That’s just part of who he is.

I came to the conclusion that if homeschooling is letting a kid choose how to explore the world, on their own terms, then weekly shopping trips to the GAP were an example of my own stellar parenting. And, besides, his attention to fashion helped him land a one-day apprenticeship with a pair of stylists.

Are other people as lonely as I am? 

This is a big question from homeschool parents. Because it’s not like homeschooling means hanging out in a commune with a bunch of other parents who think like you. It means getting your kids whatever they need (and deciding constantly on what it is that they need).

So yeah, homeschooling is lonely. But I was actually lonely when I was not homeschooling as well. I was lonely when I gave speeches all over the country. I was lonely when I had two full-time nannies. I was lonely off the farm. I was lonely on the farm. I think lonely people are just lonely.

I think there are people who would say homeschooling is not lonely, but they’d also say the rest of life is not lonely either. And they would be wrong. But that’s for another post.

Are my kids okay?

I don’t know. I do know, though, that my obsessive worrying is, in part, a problem with me being in bad relationships.

So I should stay away from bad relationships. Okay. I am going to do this.

Everything I own right now is still at the farm though. And the Farmer is done with me. And the kids. He sent me a text that said he’ll call the police if I come back. I didn’t know we wouldn’t be going back so I didn’t bring anything to Swarthmore. Now I think about the photos and the notes and the journals and everything else that I am not totally sure I’m going to be able to retrieve.

And suddenly the pictures I’ve been saving on my server for future posts are so valuable to me.

And I want them now, in a post, so I know they are here on my blog. Because this might be my template for showing myself that my kids are okay.