It’s the end of July, which means all the stores are filling up with school supplies and parents everywhere are making plans for the next school year. I like to think of myself as a pretty confident homeschooler. After all, my family has been at this for going on six years, and so far, I don’t think I have ruined my kids for life. But, there is something about this time of year that gets under my skin. When people ask me how long we’ll homeschool, my answer is always that we’ll take it one child at a time, one year at a time. So, when everyone is talking about public school and enrollment and start dates, I take a long hard look at my family and wonder if what we are doing is still working.
Now, this isn’t one of those posts where a homeschool blogger all of a sudden enrolls her kids in public school and hangs up her denim jumper. I am not there. I love homeschooling, and it is working for us. It’s not always sunshine and roses, but it’s what my family needs.
Instead, this is one of those blog posts where I lay it all out for you. I have thoughts and feelings about homeschooling — and I want to share them. Are you ready??
Here it goes, the truth about homeschooling:
Homeschooling Takes Time, Energy and Commitment
Homeschooling isn’t really something you can choose to do without a go-getter attitude. When you choose to educate your children at home, you are making a commitment to them to provide them with an education that will support them throughout their lives. There are a million and one different ways to provide this education, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to get the job done. Regardless of how you choose to homeschool, you’ll need to invest time and energy. You’ll need to follow your state’s laws. You’ll need to commit to getting the job done. It’s not something you can do willy-nilly.
No One “Has the Patience to Homeschool”
When I tell people I homeschool, the most common response I hear is that “I don’t have the patience to homeschool.” . . . and it always makes me laugh because I don’t know a single mother who really has the patience to homeschool. I mean sure, I can totally have the patience for a day or a week. But I have my bad days. Everyone does. Some days, I want to send my kids outside and lock the door and have just one blooming second to myself in silence. Some days, I want to scream when the math lessons don’t stick. Some days I am mean and impatient and frustrated and tired.
That doesn’t make me a bad mom or a bad homeschooler. It makes me human. I am working every day to be more patient and more loving and more kind to my children. Sometimes I fail, and I teach my children through my example how to apologize and move forward after making mistakes.
Homeschooling Doesn’t Take Me All Day
Or it takes me every second of every day . . . depending on your perspective.
The time we spend sitting at a table working is a small fraction of our day. When kids are in public school, a lot of time is spent getting the class organized and repeating instructions and moving from one lesson to the next — those kids aren’t at desks for 8 hours straight either. We are able to move quickly through lessons when I am only working with one or two kids at a time.
When we aren’t at our table working, the kids are still learning. We spend a lot of time outside. We spend time in our community. We visit the zoo and museums and new cities. I feel like there is something to learn everywhere we go!
It’s Easy to Overcommit
I don’t know who started the rumor that homeschooled kids aren’t socialized. My kids aren’t socialized in the sense that if I sent them to public school tomorrow someone would need to tell them that they can’t talk in line and they have to raise their hand to go to the bathroom . . . but that’s about it. They aren’t socially isolated and they are able to handle themselves in public and hold conversations with just about anyone they meet.
The biggest problem I have as a homeschooler is that I am always over-committing. Our town offers multiple co-ops, museums with classes, homeschool band and PE and art and sports and . . . I could go on and on. That’s just the organized stuff, then there are friends who want to meet at the zoo, and play dates and invites to lunch and volunteer opportunities.
If you say “yes” to everything, you’ll find that you’re never home, and you have no free time, and you’re exhausted.
If you are a “yes” person, homeschooling can be hard. If you’re a “let’s do all the things” person, homeschooling can be hard. Learning to say “no” to opportunities that don’t serve my family well saved my sanity as a new homeschooler.
I’ll Never Know Everything
Another thing people often ask me is “how do you plan to teach XYZ?”
And the answer is no, I don’t have a degree in advanced physics, thanks for asking.
You will never know everything your kids want or need to learn. You’re probably not going to be good at teaching every subject. You may not have the resources for every subject.
And guess what? That doesn’t stop homeschoolers from homeschooling. There are many options and places to get help when you get stuck. Your kids can take classes online, in the community, at a co-op, at a community college, or with a tutor. Your kids can ask Google when they get stuck. Your kids can learn how to teach themselves.
The most important thing for you to teach your kids? How to be resourceful – so when you don’t know something or you don’t have the tools to get the job done, they’ll have the gumption and know-how to figure it out.
I Have Moments of Doubt (and Rockstar Moments too)
I’d compare homeschooling multiple kids to riding a roller coaster. One moment, I am feeling a high because my son is rocking his math lesson, and the next moment I am frustrated because my middle schooler still can’t remember to put a ‘silent e’ on the end of his spelling words (really, now, how hard is it to remember that??).
Some days, I finish everything on my to-do list. Other days, I am in bed at noon. There are good days, and bad days. I’ve learned to keep perspective as I ride this homeschooling rollercoaster. One bad day doesn’t make me a failure, and if my oldest never figures out that “wave” ends with an “e” . . . well, at least the computer has spell check.
No Two Families Homeschool the Same Way
Many people stumble on my blog because they google the phrase “How do I homeschool my kids?” and they land here with me. I am so sorry, Google Visitors . . . I can’t tell you how to homeschool your kids. No one home schools in the same way. There are a billion world views, a million different curriculum products out there, and a thousand educational philosophies. How you run your homeschool will be unique to your family; your culture, your beliefs, your educational philosophy, your resources.
As for me? I am a Waldorf-inspired, wanna-be-classical, relaxed homeschooler with a dedicated school room. There are pocket charts in our school room which I am pretty sure contradicts the stereotypes of all of the above homeschooling styles. Ask me tomorrow, and I may be something else. I’m happy to allow you to follow me around my home for a month to see how it works for us.
I Don’t Think I’m Better than Public School Moms
I tried the whole public school mom thing. It was Kindergarten, and I lasted two months. It was HARD. Keeping up with homework, pick ups, drop offs . . . dressing my child in appropriate clothing for the weather . . . it was exhausting.
All jokes aside, I don’t homeschool because I think public schools stink (after all, I went to public school) and I don’t think homeschooling is for everyone. I have so much respect for teachers and the important work they do in their classrooms each and every day.
If you are a public school mom or a classroom teacher, we can still be friends. Just don’t try to change my mind about homeschooling – we love it, and it works for us!
I Need Support
As a general rule, most of us need community and support. I need my husband in order to homeschool. I need him to come home from work and encourage me and the kids. I need him to tell me I am doing a good job and that the kids have not been ruined for life.
I need my homeschool friends to tell me that it’s okay to walk away from today’s math lesson when I text them mid-day to tell them one of the kids is crying and now I am crying and I hate math. I need them to meet me for a girls night out and commiserate about how much homeschooling sucks sometimes, and excitedly plan the next school year with me because we all love homeschooling so much.
There is something special about having a person in your life who will let you complain about the things that you love, and never, ever, ever say to you “maybe you should send them to public school.”
Homeschooling Can Be Expensive
Okay – so maybe no one thinks that homeschooling is super cheap, but as a rule, homeschool curriculum costs a pretty penny. Which is why I have a whole section of this website dedicated to free homeschool curriculum. If you aren’t careful, you can easily spend 1000-2000 per child per year.
Now, if you have that kind of money to spend, by all means, do, because there are some AMAZING programs out there that are worth every penny. But, if you don’t have that money, be careful, and take the time to budget and plan your year so you don’t go broke.
Which brings me to our GIVEAWAY!
I am excited to be joining forces with a group of fabulous homeschool bloggers to give away some *money money money* to spend on your curriculum for the next school year.
How does $250 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, and educational supplies? Two people will win a $250 gift card to the online store of their choice (choices are Rainbow Resource, Christianbook, or Timberdoodle).
We know homeschooling can put a financial strain on families – whether it’s from living on one-income or buying curriculum for your children – the financial aspect of it can be stressful. Our hope is that we can bless homeschool families so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need (or maybe a want you can finally splurge on) for their school year.
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know that is quite a few entries for you, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are at winning!
Giveaway ends August 4th, 2017 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions upon entering the giveaway.