I had to hold off on writing this particular post, because despite being confident, I still wasn’t sure I had REALLY done the right thing.
However, report cards are back, and I’m happy to say - nanny nanny boo boo. My newly enrolled public-schoolers made honor roll (high honor roll for one of them), have tons of friends, and their teachers say they’re a joy to have in class. They aren’t socially awkward freaks.
There were naysayers at the beginning (I’m talking to YOU, dad) and many, many, people who questioned my abilities along the way. There were frustrating days, there were completely insane days, but there were also days of glorious learning that couldn’t have happened any other way.
Some people equate our cyber school experience to a bad marriage, like I broke up with cyber school and have moved on. Like we’re not on speaking terms, and I suddenly want to talk smack. There is nothing farther from the truth. Just because our circumstances have changed, doesn’t mean my opinion has.
It’s important for parents to know that they are completely capable of teaching their children at home, whether it be traditional homeschooling methods, or cyber school under the watch of a certified teacher. This is another one of those things that gets hotly debated in discussion forums - just like vaccines, diapering methods, and every parenting choice to be had.
Everyone who loves a child knows they make every decision in the best interests of that child. We all may have different reasons (and methods) of educating them, but it all comes from a place of love.
So, let’s go over some objections that I’ve heard over and over…
I DON’T KNOW HOW
It’s okay to be scared, but you don’t have to have a PhD to teach your child. With the resources available both online and offline, there is more information and support than you could imagine. There are entire companies devoted to providing solid curriculum from kindergarten through high school. Some are Christian, some are secular, but you have the ability to make that choice. Take what works for your family, and leave the rest.
Join a local co-op or homeschool group. Enlist the help of industry professionals in your life who might have a keener insight into some of your weaker subject areas. Nothing cements learning like some hands-on real world experiences.
This is a twofold objection I’ve heard, and it’s tough. Family finances are always a tricksy thing. For us, having me home with the kids instead of sending them to our particular school district was more important than weekly mani-pedi’s or extravagant family vacations. Luckily, we’re blessed that my husband has a second (albeit small) income from his military service. Even so, the belt has been tight for years. Taking a serious look at the household budget is a crucial step to figuring out what extras can be dumped.
On the other hand, when the kids were home, my yearly shopping list was a LOT smaller. Just since September we’ve now had to pay for school photos, extra-curricular activities, monthly scholastic book orders, one homecoming dress, and countless other odds and ends that we didn’t have to deal with before. What would your budget look like if you didn’t have these particular expenses?
Being that I’m not employed outside the home, this was a bit easier for me. However, it’s still a juggling act with three children who aren’t in the same grade. While there were some content areas I could broadly overlap (“hey guys, let’s watch this documentary on ancient Egypt!”) but not a ton. Mostly it’s just a lot of organization. I’m not exactly the most organized person in the world, but you manage to fall into a routine that works. Mine just happened to involve a lot of coffee.
If you work full time, don’t let this scare you. I know more than one family where both parents worked full time and they still managed to create a school schedule that was perfect for their situation. I also know families with performing arts students, gymnasts, and even a circus performer, who managed to make it work for them on their terms. School doesn’t have to be a strict 8am-3pm thing every day. We learn at our own pace the rest of our lives, why not lead the natural learning rhythms of our children guide us from the get-go?
Overall, I suck at organization. Part of my ADD is that I have a little bit of OCD, which means I will obsess over creating lists and schedules and plans, but if I deviate even slightly, I will get overwhelmed and scrap the entire thing. Don’t be like me.
Most curriculum will already have lesson plans and outlines prepared for you, which is awesome. I know with Calvert, one of the curriculum we have experience with, they set the entire school year out in front of you, days 1-180 in an easy-to-follow format. It didn’t mean we had to follow it implicitly, but it was great to have someone else do the heavy lifting for us.
Finding out how your child learns best will be the key to unlocking the organizational system and schedule that works for your family. One of my kids liked to “block” his subjects, and spend more time completing giant chunks of a particular subject (like science) for the week. It made it easy for him knowing that on Mondays we worked on science, Tuesdays we worked on history, etc. I would caution though, (in my experience) language arts and math need to be tended to every day to keep skills on track.
School is the only time in our lives where we are grouped together specifically by age or scholastic aptitude. It makes sense in the public school setting, but what about when we get into interacting with other people in life? There’s no reason why a child should only be able to socialize meaningfully with other kids the same age. I’ve heard time and again that my children are so polite, so mature, so lovely to talk to, from people of varying ages.
Perhaps if you happen to live in the middle of Appalachia, only have one child, and never see other humans, and have no internet access, the socialization aspect might be worrisome. However, kids have a way of finding kindred souls. Some of my daughters best friends are scattered across the states, and even into other countries. And much like having a “real life” friend, it seems every time I turn around they’re in my house (via Skype) giggling about things that teenage girls giggle about.
If it’s still a concern, you would be surprised just how many homeschool groups and co-ops probably already exist in your area. You’re probably just not aware of them because you haven’t looked. Checkout MeetUp(dot)com and scout your area. I’ll bet you find a ton of groups. If you don’t, shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to help you connect with people in your area.
While this isn’t an exhaustive and definitive list of reasons you can homeschool, I hope it helps debunk some ideas and objections people might have about homeschooling. You can do it, I have faith in you. Your kids have faith in you. It’s not about which option is the right or wrong choice where school is concerned. It’s about having the ability to make that choice. Do what’s best for your family. Just know you aren’t alone.