We began our first year of homeschool in August of 2016.
It has been an incredible ride! There have been many ups, downs, good days and bad days.
I always wanted to homeschool. However, many people were telling me that our children would be better off in public school in order for them to make friends and to learn how to stand up for themselves. My husband and I tossed the idea around for a couple of years before our oldest was school aged.
Here is a little bit of background on us.
Public school seemed like a good idea the more we weighed the two options. Off to public school Bri went. She had a very difficult time adjusting but we made sure to be there every step of the way. Then came the bullying problem. I am a parent who knows the difference between harmless teasing and outright bullying. What Bri was experiencing was not normal and after some time we decided to take action because it did not look like the situation would resolve on its own, even after supplying Bri with the tools to try to defuse the situation. It finally died down once we stepped in and the other child’s parents were informed but it left lasting scars on Bri.
Our twins Mav and Audy had a much better time in school but it was not without challenges. Audy had a difficulty in class because of how quick her mind is and students would call her names. Mav just could not keep up with classes because he tended to day- dream. He wanted his teachers to slow down and teach him one-on-one. With classrooms as full as they are today we knew it was not possible for him to have that.
Standardized testing was another issue. Mav in particular would vomit and get really nervous when it was time for the state issued test. He would cry because he did not want to let himself or his teacher down if he received a poor score.
So, taking all of this into consideration we sat down with the kids and asked them what they really wanted. We were surprised at what they said.
They all agreed that school was not meeting their needs. Audy wanted to be challenged. Mav wanted one-on-one time and Bri wanted more art and creative time. My husband and I weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling and it took over a year to make the decision.
Over the summer of 2016 we sat the kids down and told them we would remove them from public school. They were excited but worried about leaving friends behind.
We made the jump and never looked back. I feel proud of the progress the kids made. Bri gets her art time, Audy gets her challenging subjects and Mav gets one-on-one time.
Are you thinking of homeschooling?
Here is a list of things we learned during our first year of homeschool:
- Getting along is tough…in the beginning. Once homeschool started we were always with each other and the kids began to test my patience. I had to overcome their whining, stubbornness, laziness and disrespect. It took a good three months for the kids to understand how our schedule would work, who was the teacher and what was expected of them. Nine months later I have hardly experienced any instances of the kids acting out. They know the plan and they acted in harmony with it.
- To schedule or not to schedule. Not every family who homeschools is on a schedule and that is O.K. In order for me not to lose my mind and for the kids to know what was expected of them I had to create a loose outline of each day. We also are very social and have lots of family and friends who we hang out with so sometimes our schedule gets thrown off. I have to plan everything so I don’t mix things up.
- Curriculum decisions. Depending on your state’s requirements you will pick your curriculum or choose to unschool. (Unschooling is an educational method that supports learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.) Whatever you pick do not worry! Your child will learn no matter what. Billboards on the side of the road are even opportunity to read. Grocery shopping trips can teach about budgeting or calculating pounds on produce. Don’t get so hung up on curriculum that the real world slips by.
- What about friends? This is important to lots of kids. Getting the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids is a must. We go to parks, museums, the beach and many other places where the kids interact with others. It is important for the kids to have some contact with other kids to play and sit and talk. We found that the park is the best place for this but it may be different for other families. Our children have life long friends from our congregation which most certainly contributes to their happiness.
- Supplies oh my. When the year started I bought every supply I could think of. By the end of our school year we used the pencils and sharpener more than anything. We have art supplies and books but we mostly do school work on the computer. I learned that you don’t need very many supplies to homeschool.
- Self doubt. Yes, it crept up on me several times. I think the biggest challenge to anyone considering homeschool is overcoming self-doubt. I almost wanted to quit but I reasoned within myself that these are my kids and I am the best person to teach them. It is my right and privilege as a parent to educate my children. I stuck with it and made changes to our schedule and curriculum as needed in order to keep us happy and on track.
I am not vilifying public school at all. It is a great option for working full time parents and care givers. There are kids who love public school and that is wonderful!
However, if you’re thinking of homeschooling but doubt yourself, why not sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses. You don’t have to be creative or have a lot of money. But you do need to love your child and have confidence in yourself. Those two things will carry you through your homeschool journey.
Check out my other blog posts about our field trips and class projects!