Rising to the Challenge of Homeschooling with Love
Photo credit: Donna Marie Sullivan
As a shy and somewhat timid pre-teen entering high school, over 20 years ago, I was lucky to have Dixie-Ann Harris-Gordon as a mentor. Assigned as a prefect to my class, she was a strong yet gentle presence. She patiently listened to our immature friendship squabbles and offered guidance and support. I’m not surprised that Dixie later embarked on a career in Education. She was the perfect teacher long before she officially become one.
Thanks to technology we have managed to keep in touch over the years. Not surprisingly, I have been incredibly moved by Dixie as she has become a mom to 2 beautiful children, whom she raises with the utmost patience, creativity, and care.
Dixie has put her education background to work and taken on the challenge of homeschooling her children. A daunting task for many, but Dixie has found ways to keep herself well in body, mind, and spirit! Her posts on their learning adventures are inspiring and super cute of course.
I Speak Mom is extremely proud to feature Amazing Mom Dixie-Ann Harris-Gordon this week.
On her family:
We are the definition of multicultural. I was born in Trinidad with Carib roots and an ancestry that traces from India to Portugal, France to Africa. My husband grew up in Louisiana and has African and European ties. So, it goes without saying that raising our kids to appreciate and respect diversity is a priority for me.
On what surprised her about motherhood:
Everything! You’d think that after a lifetime of working with children there’d be a familiarity that came naturally with motherhood, but it didn’t. Motherhood is entirely different. You are stripped to your core and your heart in its purest, most vibrant form emerges. It brings out your fears but unlocks a whole new level of joy. Pride in your own accomplishments is nothing compared to pride in theirs. My emotions intensified (possibly from a lack of sleep), my willingness to accept the status quo shifted and my focus became clearer. Changing diapers was the easy part!
On the challenges of motherhood so far:
My greatest challenge has been drowning out the “noise” of the audience. There are constant opinions on what your parenting style should look like. I’ve had some well-meaning input into all manner of concerns; how long I should breastfeed, how many steps ahead of me my child should venture, my “discipline” methods, and the list goes on. At the beginning, it really got to me. But I’ve learnt that everyone’s parenting journey is different, just like everyone’s childhood is different. This is an emotional, spiritual and intellectual voyage that cannot be duplicated. I define my own beliefs about parenting and that in itself is a gift.
On how she manages the day to day challenges of being a mom:
With lots of meditation! My 3-year-old has become quite “skilled” in advising me when I need to go to my room to “do my meditation”. With toddlers, you’re constantly giving of yourself and just over a year ago, I found myself constantly on edge. That’s when I dove into meditation. Truthfully, that’s where I find my center, my balance. I also have a circle of women around me that lift me higher and are an essential part of my support system.
On what she loves most about motherhood:
My babies! These little angels that gifted me with motherhood. Their hugs, their smiles, their snuggles and their supercharged energy. I want to savor every moment of it.
On her decision to homeschool:
The decision to homeschool surprised me. I never gave it much thought prior to having my own kids, especially since I’d been both a teacher and an administrator. That’s what I knew! Education has changed, yet refuses to change. There is an increased rigor placed on teachers and their principals that can stifle the very young, the most delicate. I’ve worked with children for over two decades and my goal has always been to empower them, fuel their curiosity and give them a foundation greater than the academics. I want that for my own children just like I wanted that for every child that I taught.
No two days are ever the same so we’re guided by routines as opposed to schedules. I prep activities a week or 2 in advance based on a combination of their interests and developing skills and generally “teach” about 4 hours a week. The bulk of their homeschooling comes from their exploration and curiosity. We have a timeline but rarely stick to it. I tend to let interests run their course. Since they’re working on activities that are influenced by their interests, they tend to play independently for longer periods. Which allows me the time to tidy up, prep meals, etc. as needed. You constantly hear about the “terrible twos, troublesome threes, fearsome fours”, so character building is crucial to maintaining some level of sanity. I’ve started combining mommy instincts with my “children’s life coaching” training. So, bedtime story books usually have a character building theme to them.
On her advice for new moms:
Ask for help! Lean on your team! Schedule self-care as if your life depended on it, because often times, it does!
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