During the past year, there has been an influx of parents that made the decision to keep their children at home to receive their education outside of the traditional school system. There have been two very different approaches that have emerged during this time. Not everyone falls into these two categories but many have!
Some parents took the school at home route by setting up a classroom in their house, creating a daily schedule, purchasing a pre-selected grade curriculum, and mimicking the school experience within the confines of their home.
Others embarked on their homeschool journey researching and purchasing an abundance of materials and curriculum with many making plans to camp out in their living rooms for the duration of their children’s academic careers! Scheduling meetings in the park and flooding forums with questions, these moms went at it with such gusto that many burned out and had their children back in school after the winter break.
While there isn’t a specific road map to alternative education options such as homeschooling your child, there are a few things that you can do to be a successful long term homeschool family if you feel that is the direction your family is heading towards.
- De-school: take at the very least a semester to chill out with your children, get to know them and their learning styles. Provide them with beautiful books and get outside and explore. Play games and conduct kitchen science experiments together. If you can relax enough to take an entire year to really enjoy this process, your entire homeschool experience will be much easier!
- Realize: there isn’t a one size fits all approach to anything! What works well for one family may not work for yours. There are so many different curriculum options, programs, classes, and resources available to you but that doesn’t mean they will meet your needs or that of your child. Choose wisely and calmly during the above mentioned year to learn!
- Don’t Panic: you and your children will be okay. They will learn, they will self regulate and most importantly, they will thrive when given the opportunity to learn in a way that works for them. We push our children so hard to meet the “normal” standards or common core mandates, that we forget that everyone should be given the freedom to learn at their own pace. The majority of students do manage to figure it all out and become successful adults!
- You don’t need a classroom: I see this so often, families feel that not having a dedicated classroom makes them feel that homeschooling isn’t attainable especially if they can’t afford a well equipped space. We homeschooled from the kitchen table with a cabinet shelf cleared out for our books. We relocated to the sofa as needed. My son made it to college and is graduating with honors this summer. During quarantine, he spent most of his college classes firmly planted on the sofa, just like he did during his homeschooled days!
- Forums: getting support from forums and the internet is really great but take it all with a grain of salt. You can quickly become overwhelmed by how forty different parents homeschooled their children forty different ways and all answered your questions showcasing their unique perspective. Remember, everyone has a story to share and yours will not be the same as theirs. Don’t get sucked in trying to find the correct answer to any question, it doesn’t exist!
- Socialization: people used to be amazed when they found out I was a homeschooled student and could talk in coherent sentences and engage in conversation with just about anyone. Just because you choose to homeschool does not mean your children will not be able to communicate with others or be lonely. There are many more opportunities for children to socialize as homeschoolers, they have a much more flexible schedule and I feel create more meaningful relationships with not just their peers but other children older and younger than they are. They also form lasting bonds with adults and in my son’s case, with other educators and even professors in college. Also keep in mind that there are many children in school that can’t communicate well and are lonely, school doesn’t necessarily fix either of these issues and in some cases, causes them.
There you have it in a nutshell. Homeschooling is very rewarding and can be a wonderful experience for your family! That being said, it is not for every parent or child and that is okay too. Even if it is just for a season, enjoy the time with your kiddos as you begin to instill the love of learning that they will remember long after the books are put away!