Ever wondered if homeschooling is right for your family but overwhelmed by all the details?
Here’s some encouragement from a mom who’s been doing it for almost a decade.
Once upon a time, about 9 years ago, I was a cute little young mom, doing my thing with a preschooler and toddler and wondering why I kept thinking so much about homeschool. I’d recently signed Liam up for preschool with a sweel local mom teaching it out of her house and I was thrilled to have a few hours to me and baby Toby. I was actually pretty jazzed at the prospect of eventually sending him (and all his siblings to come) to school at age 5.
Then some weird little niggling feelings & thoughts started in on me and all of a sudden I got really curious about homeschooling.
Inner dialogue: “Wait a second. Hold up…homeschooling?? Homeschooling is super weird. Also, I don’t wanna do it. And my kids will never leave my house, and I don’t know how to teach math, and I’ll probably go crazy.
Also, I don’t wanna do it.”
Without talking your ear off for a thousand years, suffice it to say that I DID give in to those thoughts and feelings, found a few wonderful friends who were put in my path to teach me about homeschooling (and how it’s not that weird and how kids can be homeschooled and still have social skills) and we dove in headfirst.
I SO understand the conflict that comes from an opportunity to do something that you think might be right for you but is really, really overwhelming. I get it. I believe that my inclination to homeschool came as a nudge from God (He certainly knows more about what my kids need than I do. Like a million gazillion times more) but even if your urge to homeschool comes from a completely different place or desire, I’m here to tell you that you can do it!
I absolutely promise you, you can.
Just a little disclaimer: I’m not here to convince anyone that they should homeschool their children. That’s neither my desire nor any of my business. I wholly trust you as a parent to make whatever decision is the best for you and yours. I also hope that I don’t make it sound like homeschooling is better than any other type of education, it’s simply one of many options (although clearly I’m partial to it because it ended up being our choice). You do you, mom (or dad)!
BUT, if you’ve felt led to homeschooling and haven’t proceeded simply because you’re paralyzed by the options or your limitations or lack of understanding or support, then this is the post for you.
I believe in YOU!!
Now I know that the obstacles standing in the way of a perfect home school can seem insurmountable. I don’t even have time in 10 blog posts to talk about them all, but I will encourage you through the top 5 that were MY biggest hangups. I hope these help!
- Your kids will NOT be socially stunted. I don’t know why, but 9 times out of 10, this is what people talk to me about when homeschooling comes up. I kinda think it’s hilarious that people’s first concern isn’t the quality of a child’s education but rather whether or not the kid can talk about cool stuff with his peers (but I’ll admit – I worried too).Here’s the thing: there is nothing about public school that mimics a real-world social scenario. Can you think of any other life experience where you spend hours and hours cooped up in a room with other people exactly your age? Yeah, me neither. What public school DOES give kids, is an opportunity to socialize with others. But so does going to the library, the zoo, the grocery store, the post office, etc. Give your kid real world experiences and he will be just as social (if not more so) than a child who spends most of the day inside a classroom.
- You are enough. It’s really scary thinking that you’re about to be the expert on all things academic for your kids. I totally know where you’re coming from. But we live in this wonderful world of the Internet! Between YouTube and Google, the local library and local experts, there is literally NOTHING your child cannot learn (ok, maybe not nuclear launch codes). You can choose to get an education with your child (and even if you don’t want to, you’ll definitely pick stuff up along the way!), or you can set your kid up with some good reading skills and get out of his or her way. Watching my kids teach themselves has been one of the most rewarding things about homeschooling for me. And this point leads me to….
3. Your child can (and should) be responsible for his own education. This is a hard one to accept, especially when your kids are still young and irresponsible, but a wonderful aspect of homeschooling is the opportunity for our kids to learn what they want and where they want and at the speed that’s right for them. Fighting to keep kids at “grade level” can be immensely frustrating and I wholly discourage it! There are a few benchmarks that should be used to measure kids’ progress in order to ferret out any learning disorders and to ensure their future progress isn’t hindered but other than that, let your kid guide his own learning process. If you happen to be a type A parent like me, this can often end in hair-pulling frustration, but just be patient. Trust the process. Believe in your kids and their beautiful brains. They will be alright!
4. Explore different types of homeschooling frameworks. I don’t mean curricula, I mean entire frameworks. Did you know that some people don’t start official academics with their children until age 8? Did you know some families teach only from classical works and not textbooks? Have you heard of Charlotte Mason, Waldorf or Unschooling? These questions aren’t meant to overwhelm, just to let you know that there are dozens of ways to structure your learning environments, and you have complete freedom over how and when to do it all. Homeschooling rarely (if ever) mimics a traditional public school classroom and I think that’s wonderful! I love this website for homeschooling resources; it’s a great place to get basic info on these different educational styles.
5. Don’t rush it and enjoy the journey. The critic inside me is laughing hysterically as I type this; I need to take my own advice so badly on this one! But maybe that’s why I was inspired to homeschool from the start. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day: reading, writing, math and everything else you want your kids to learn. But the beauty of homeschooling is that you can take your time with it all.
Think back to your time in public school: did you really sit around intensely learning every minute of those 7 hour days? Of course not. You spent time at lunch and recess, art & computer class and waiting around for the bus and your teacher to finish up with other kids. So instead of all that wasted time spent at school, your children get to spend it with YOU. Reading wonderful stories, exploring magical worlds, learning the magic of numbers and building forts, exploring in nature and playing. I really believe that how our children learn is just as important as what they learn.
Last disclaimer: I really hope it’s blatantly obvious that these photos were planned, staged and shot by a professional. I would never want another mom to think that our homeschool days look anything like this (note the convenient lack of the 3 small kids who require most of my time and effort in these photos!). In reality, it’s 4pm and I’m blogging in my pj’s while the littles stare glassy-eyed at their 4th episode of Phineas and Ferb. Life is a big bungled up mess of try and try again and sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s a disaster. But the magical part of homeschooling is that you get to do it together.
Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle Photography