With Spring Break fading in life’s rearview mirror, and summertime looming ahead, I have to admit: I’m struggling to maintain any sense of routine. I’m looking forward to schedule free days, long afternoons floating in the pool, digging my toes in the sand, and tucking all schoolwork away for a good, long stretch.
We’re weeks away from wrapping up our first year of homeschooling, and while I wouldn’t label myself a home education pro, I can share with you a few things I’ve learned these last few months.
Homeschooling is an adventure, and it’s one that no amount of curriculum research can really prepare you for. It’s both completely exhausting, and utterly fulfilling, all wrapped up into a tightly wound package. As we prepare to close out our first year, I can honestly say with a measured amount of surprise: I really enjoyed the process of teaching my children.
That said, there are a few things you should know about homeschooling. Whether you’re considering homeschooling yourself, or you simply have friends who’ve made that choice, these are important facts worth understanding.
1.) Homeschooling Moms Waffle Between Confidence and Self-Doubt
The choice to educate our children at home is made for a variety of different reasons. Some people choose this path because they don’t care for the curriculum of the public schools. Some do it because they want flexibility in their schedules. Some do it because their children have learning challenges, and they want to help their kids overcome those in the comfort of their home.
Some home educate for religious reasons, and others do it because they have academic goals for their kids that can be better met at home. Some families, like ours, have athletically gifted children, and they want nothing more than to give those kids the chance to succeed both in school and in sports without the stress of an over-filled schedule.
Whatever the reason for choosing homeschooling, it’s important to note that, with the exception of a very few, most of us waffle back and forth between feeling like we’re either nailing it, or we’re failing dismally.
I can move between those two emotions within the very same day, in fact.
There’s often no real barometer to know if our kids are learning on track, and we wonder if we’re helping them or ruining them, and yet the conviction that this is the right choice for our family outweighs every doubt. So we press on.
Sometimes with more coffee than should be legally permitted.
2.) The Opportunities Are Endless
“I could never homeschool my kids.”
I hear this statement a lot, and I said it myself in the past. The truth is, homeschooling is a daunting and intimidating task. We look at all that has to be done to lead children through the educational process, and we immediately assume ourselves incapable of the job. And you know what?
It’s alright to assume that.
I am the first to admit I can’t give my children all they need in school. My daughter is in fourth grade, and I’ve about hit my cap in math.
WHY WITH ALL THE LONG DIVISION?!
But the beauty of the home education movement means we don’t have to go it alone! Twenty years ago, moms who chose homeschooling really did have to navigate the process on their own, but today the possibilities are almost endless. There are co-ops and hybrid programs where qualified teachers teach children the concepts, and mom has only to facilitate the lessons.
There are virtual school programs where kids have access to teachers, and so does mom when questions arise.
Beyond this, homeschooled children have a lot of protection from the states. In the state of Florida, for example, homeschoolers can take special classes inside their local public school like art, music, and PE. And in high school, schools are legally obligated to allow homeschool students to participate in athletics.
Homeschool students in Florida also don’t have to take the GED to graduate high school. They can take a high school equivalency test and receive a diploma from the state of Florida.
Check your state’s guidelines for information on home education. You might be surprised how much there is to offer. Of course, you may have to fight for these rights, and you may face opposition, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity doesn’t exist.
3.) Homeschooling is Fun!
No, I’m serious – it really is!
Of course, there are sacrifices involved when one chooses to homeschool. We sacrifice the freedom of our days, a quiet house, and the opportunity to actually finish a complete a thought. But every life decision comes with sacrifice, right?
Public school parents sacrifice some freedoms, too. They’re at the mercy of the school schedule, and that’s a choice they make for their family. Private school families make financial sacrifices for their children’s education. No matter what path you choose, you’ll make a sacrifice.
But the benefits of spending time with your kids far outweigh the sacrifice of freedom. I’ve had a blast learning with my kids this year, and it’s been beautiful to watch them enjoy one another. Some days are hard, and there have been times when I wish I could put them on a bus and ship them off to school.
But the fun has far outweighed the hard, and I can honestly say after this first year that I am looking forward to starting again next year.
What about the rest of you homeschool moms? What are some things you wish people knew about homeschooling? Share in the comments!