When my oldest started experiencing issues in the traditional school setting in kindergarten, I knew there was a problem. After all, this is a great time to really capture a child’s curiosity, get them to ask questions, and engage them in a way in which they want to know more. Learning should be fun, interesting and entertaining, especially at this age, but it wasn’t for my son. He wasn’t thriving in that environment. He had trouble conforming to sitting for the length of time required. His days were long and he was exhausted by the time he got home, only to be faced with more homework at the end of the day.
Why can’t he sit still like the other kids?
These are the thoughts that would run through my mind. I was in a negative cycle of comparing my child to other children. That’s when I realized what I was doing and stopped immediately. He always has been and always will be an active boy but it wasn’t him that was the problem; it was the amount of pressure put on children today to adhere to rules and requirements that they just might not be ready for.
Things are different, much different.
Kindergarten is no longer half-day like it used to be. Kids are getting less time to play outside. More is expected from them at such a young age and there’s more pressure. My biggest concern was that my son wasn’t developing a love for learning, but rather an intense dislike. He didn’t have an interest in learning how to read. He just did his assignments to get them done. I wanted better for him and I knew I had to step in. I knew it was time to make a change. I saw how smart and creative he was and I wanted him to build on that in a positive way. It was then that I started to do more research. After long discussions with my husband, we were both in agreement and our homeschooling journey began. With confidence, I can say it was and still is the best decision for our family three years later.
Homeschooling certainly comes with a learning curve, however, especially in the beginning. Not only that but there are so many myths and stereotypes floating around as well. I have learned so much so far and I’d like to share what homeschooling has taught me.
Education doesn’t have to happen in the school setting:
Before I started homeschooling, I believed in order to learn you must go to school and you must sit at a desk. This is far from the truth. In fact, education can happen anywhere, at home, at the grocery store, in the car, on vacation, in the woods, you name it. One topic takes you to another topic, and then into another subject, and then into another, and it continues. By the end of the day, your third grader had learned fifth-grade content without even realizing it. There aren’t any limitatations with homeschooling.
Laying a good foundation for learning that is unique to each child is important:
No two children are alike. A learning style that works for one may not work for the other. Kinesthetic, visual and auditory are just a few different types of learning styles. For example, a child who learns best with hands-on activities, who enjoys dynamic presentations, is going to tune out during any type of lecture. The more you cater to a child’s learning style, the more they learn. This is impossible to do in the traditional school setting. Seizing the moment when your child is yearning for more information is the best thing you can do. How can a teacher with 30 students accomplish this?
Lack of socialization is a total myth:
This one always gets me but I know those who bring this topic up in terms of homeschooling haven’t done enough research. There are many socialization opportunities for homeschoolers. There are co-ops, field trips, homeschool classes such as art and music, sports, camps, volunteering activities, dances, proms and other random homeschool groups available. There are also many Facebook groups as well, some with hundreds of members. We attended a homeschooling friend’s birthday party yesterday, so there’s certainly no lack of socialization here.
Homeschoolers, in my opinion, are actually better socialized because they can attend trips in the middle of the day with their peers and they are free to hit the park with friends after work is complete. There are more opportunities because they aren’t in school all day. They can socialize as much as they want with different children. It’s also rare for a homeschooler to have to worry about being a victim of bullying. If they are, they can choose to never see that child again.
The library will become your best friend:
We practically live there. It’s where everybody knows our name 🙂 Both of my children, 8 and 4, have their own library card. The library has so many opportunities to expand knowledge in whatever area you’re studying. I find myself taking 20 books out at a time. Our extensive time spent in the library has also allowed my children to see how much information is out there right at their fingertips and how easily they can obtain it, for free.
Choosing a curriculum feels like rocket science:
There are so many curriculum options out there which is a good thing; however, when you have thousands to choose from, it just makes it a bit more tedious to decide on one that’ll work for your child’s specific learning style. Each publisher brings something different to the table and you have to read a lot of reviews to narrow your choices down. This is one of the more challenging aspects of homeschooling that I’ve come across.
You may need to tweak your personality:
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist but this doesn’t work when teaching. I needed to let go of that side of myself or else we were doomed to fail. Particularly with boys, I learned that pretty and perfect wasn’t going to happen.
Homeschoolers aren’t all the same:
I’ve met so many homeschoolers. They all have different and personal reasons for homeschooling, whether their child doesn’t perform well in the school setting, they have had bad experiences with bullying or behavioral issues, they dislike Common Core, or there are religious reasons for their decision. Bottom line is they all want what’s best for their children, like all parents do.
You need a break:
You need a support system when you’re a homeschooler. I am blessed to be able to spend all day with my children but let’s be honest, some days get tiring. It’s important to get out and recharge or else there will be burn-out, and you’ll hate it.
Homeschooling is challenging:
Homeschooling isn’t peaches and cream every day. Some days are hard, really hard, but being a parent with kids in school is also hard. No matter what way you look at it, there are challenges all around. I learned on those more challenging days to put in an educational DVD or take a break and head out on an outdoor adventure. Sometimes you just have to put it away.
You’ll get different reactions when you tell people you homeschool:
Homeschooling has become more popular over the years, but many people are still uncomfortable with it. They may look at you like you’re crazy but I use this as an opportunity to tell them how much different it is today and that homeschooling is a great choice for families who feel the school system is not providing their children with what they need, or want. On the other hand, I’ve had people applaud me for homeschooling because they see the issues in schools today and they understand the desire to educate children at home. There are mixed opinions. You never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get, but it doesn’t matter. It’s important to note that those who have something negative to say usually aren’t educated on the process.
Homeschooling is rewarding:
I’ve never done anything more rewarding than homeschooling. Watching your child finally get that difficult math problem and seeing the excitement on their face when learning something new is such a wonderful feeling. You may not get a “thank you” for all of your hard work as a teacher but just knowing you’re doing a good job, your children are learning, and they are safe should be comfort enough❤️
Why Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century is a great article on the positive effect homeschooling has on children versus the traditional school setting.