As a homeschool mom I’m sure you have heard every variety of the statements below. I know I have. Sometimes it leaves me feeling a little deflated. Does our version of school look that unappealing from the outside?
“How do you keep up with four grade levels of lessons?”
“Is it possible to know everything they need to know?”
“How do you know what to teach them?”
“Aren’t you afraid they will get behind?”
“When do you have time to yourself?”
Is the homeschool burden too much?
We are just beginning our second year of learning at home and I’m in love with the freedom this lifestyle allows. It is not for all families, or all kids, or maybe not even for every season of a child’s life. But for us dropping out of the public school system has relaxed our whole lifestyle (not just school hours) and slowed time down just a bit. From the outside it may look like the burden of a lot more work but from the inside it feels like a lot more joy. I dare say, it may even feel like “less work” than maintaining our current enrollment status.
Goodbye pick up line!
Four kids in three separate buildings made drop off and pickup a hassle each day. There were hours spent volunteering so I could be “involved” in what they were learning. Hours were spent on homework & projects so we could “reinforce” what they learned while they were gone for eight hours. Time was spent gathering things that were needed for projects or classroom use. That’s a lot of hours out of every day.
When my kids came home they were generally overstimulated and just grumpy. It took about an hour for them to decompress and be themselves again. One of my children had anxiety prior to school starting that would make sleeping difficult for the month leading up to school, and again after every vacation. I’m not sorry to say goodbye to that.
Getting off the treadmill- did you know you can do that?
I loved being an involved mom when my kids went away to school everyday. (Who doesn’t love laminating and stuffing folders?) They went to a small town public school filled with many teachers and employees who I would call my friends. I was glad to give my time and encouraged my kids to do the same. Until one day a friend mentioned that her family was considering homeschooling. A literal lightbulb moment. What? We could check out. Get off the treadmill. That’s a possibility? That’s a possibility!!!!
The hours that used to be spent readying, hurrying, delivering, gathering, volunteering, and homeworking are now spent on my family. We cycle through our daily work, some things requiring more of my attention than others. The kids, especially my older boys, spent our first year learning to work independently. They are learning how to find their own answers; to actually care what the answers are, not just about their grade. They have time to help around the house. They have time to be of help to others and to learn how to work hard.
(This is not to say homeschooling has smoothed over any imperfections in our family. If anything it brings them to the surface. Those dark days of homeschooling are a post all of their own!)
Plan, plan, plan.
I’m a planner.
I sleep better when I know what is in store for the next day. Last summer this time I was in research beast mode. I was reading everything I could get my hands on, visiting homeschool friends for advice, and making lists like a fool. Procrastination is not my thing. I like to be a step ahead of the game It’s not always super likeable (who doesn’t love to commiserate about how much they procrastinate?) and I put a ton of pressure on myself, a trait I knew I didn’t want to pass on to my children.
Or….relax and enjoy.
All of that planning and research soothed the Type A personality in me but much of it was unnecessary. There are amazing resources available for home educators. And, honestly, kids just naturally learn on their own when the constraints are gone. I knew about how much of each subject we needed to cover each week. We work four days a week and divided the work up accordingly. I plan no more than a week in advance. It worked without a fancy planner or plan. The kids learned. A lot. I helped when needed.
Learning in the Summer? What? Who does that?
Crazy homeschoolers, that’s who!
We did some school, mostly math, all summer long. As August neared my kids became a little antsy and less able to entertain themselves so we threw in some writing and Science. A little routine never hurt anyone. There may be a sunny week in September when we need to soak up the last of summer and a week in December to enjoy holiday activities and visitng friends. We can do that. We can adapt on the fly to what works for our family.
Turns out benefits are far bigger than the homeschool burden!
Meanwhile, we are looking forward to back to school. Its not a radical change to our schedule; no hoops to jump through. It does mark another new beginning. It’s a slow start with plenty of field trips thrown in. Our favorite spots will be empty again. After all, all those public schoolers will be busy.
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