And Ideas On Turning Them to Pros
This time I thought I'd discuss the homeschool cons, and what we did to overcome them. First, a little about me. My name is Jessica, a homeschool mom of six. I have been homeschooling for 14 years, with eight more to go. Along the way, I began Omagine Academy, which is vendored with several homeschool charters.
Today's blog is about the worries I faced that may await new homeschool parents. I understand that everyone has their own unique circumstance, so I can't promise that my solutions will be yours. I hope that this gives you confidence that even the cons can become pros over time. If you have been teaching a while, these may sound familiar. Of course, feel free to weigh in on anything I've missed.
1 Doubting Your Ability To Teach
In the beginning, I questioned myself more than I care to admit. I worried that I might let my kids down and that they wouldn't get an education that would prepare them for "the real world." But my fears were overblown. I soon realized that my kids learn just as much from HOW I teach as they do from WHAT I teach them. And even when topics got more difficult in high school, we'd problem-solve together. In the end, I taught my kids to read, write, excel at math, and love to learn. There is definitely a learning curve, and no parent-teacher is perfect, but if you've decided to homeschool, connect to the values that led you to that decision, and trust yourself. Your doubt is just evidence that you care. I agree that there are phenomenal public and private school teachers, but no one cares about your children more than you do. I have two starting college, and I can honestly say that the relationship and communication with them that developed because of homeschool is the greatest treasure of all.
2 Feeling Alone
Fears regarding solitude might not be shared outright, but I know it's on every new homeschooler's mind. Where do you go for help? Who understands? There are tough days, for sure, just like in any long term project. But consider that homeschooling isn't what it used to be. From support groups online to different charter schools, there are abundant methods and resources for homeschool. Homeschooling options and support continue to grow, so you can bet there will be more improved opportunities further down the line.
The pandemic has practically made homeschooling mandatory, so more parents are embarking on this journey than ever before. Just know that lots of people are going through exactly what you're going through. Reach out. Those of us who have been doing this for a long time are here to help.
Many years ago, my extended family, specifically my father-in-law, was not a fan of homeschool. He and my brothers-in-law are staunch advocates for traditional education. They would often make comments about homeschool that reflected very archaic ideas about the industry and how unfamiliar they were with how it's changed over the last thirty years. They undoubtedly had images of kids in the corner eating paste and wearing clothes two sizes too small and out of fashion. I would get super agitated and felt like I had to defend our decision.
To be fair, everyone has a different relationship with the term "homeschool." Maybe homeschool still has a bit of stigma; I don't think so. For some, it might be a term that means your kids "can't make it" in public school, or perhaps it signals that your kids are difficult or delayed. Everyone has their opinions, and everyone's a critic, so you may hear grumblings from people surprised you decided to commit to schooling at home.
In my case, my husband was 110% on board with homeschool. He tutored and taught youths all through his undergrad. He is the product of a Montessori-type of high school, so he's an evangelist for teaching outside of the conventional system. Both of us know and continue to believe that there is a smarter, safer, and more humane way to teach children. For us, that means an educational plan primarily based on homeschool.
4 Managing Multiple Grades
Because of our large family, this was my biggest struggle. I started out wanting to instruct them together in history and science, which we did off and on. Eventually, I taught them according to their specific grade standards because it was a little easier to track. If I were doing everything over again, I would use a curriculum designed for teaching multiple grades. But my favorite unintended consequence was how quickly the kids took ownership of their studies. That's something I wasn't planning. Over the years, they've all gotten really good at knowing exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it. The younger ones can still get distracted playing with a sibling or goofing off, but for the most part, they've gotten used to the system and culture of homeschool that has developed in our house.
5 Limited Social Interaction
This is a big one because it's perhaps the most controversial of all. My take on it is that homeschool kids do not get the same type of peer friction they would get in public school. But whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of circumstance. You might be on the side that thinks peer friction inhibits learning or on the side that says friction facilitates it. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle, but that it all depends on your unique family situation and, most of all, your child's personality. Watch your kid - see how they develop. If they need more peer activity, consider adjusting their schedule to orchestrate more interactions with their peers. Is there a teen center nearby, a 5K, or another service organization where they can volunteer? Are there inexpensive activities nearby that your child likes? Could you arrange a trip to the Exploratorium, library, cultural, or arts center with other homeschool families? You can do a lot to enrich your child's homeschool experience. A little creativity can go a long way to developing relationships and healthy educational exposures.
We have a large, loud family with a bunch of athletic boys, so even though they are each others' best friends, sports filled some of the gaps for peer friction. Apart from that, they were always involved in trips to the museum or zoo, in-person enrichment classes with our homeschool charter, piano, or karate. Lots of homeschool families I know tend to have tons on their social calendars. Although the pandemic has made much of this nearly impossible, social interaction is still top of mind for many homeschooling parents. We all want well-adjusted, emotionally balanced children that grow to be responsible, autonomous young adults. In my mind, homeschooling offers the best of both worlds because the over-exposure to risky behaviors, violence, and bullying is diminished.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps encourage you forward. Transitioning to homeschool full time can be challenging, but so rewarding too. What do you think? Do you agree, or did I miss a concern you've faced? Let me know by leaving a comment or via email. 'Till next time.