There’s a lot of good stuff about this homeschool lifestyle we have chosen. Here are a few of my favorites. And you know that little voice of doubt, that little devil that sits on your shoulder and whispers doubts in your ear. As a homeschool mom I have one of those too. If I’m being honest all of the best things about homeschool have a flip side to them; some real and some imagined. I’m gonna share those too. Because, really, doesn’t it feel good to know we all have the same worries? This is the best and worst of homeschool at our house!
Educational Pace is Determined by My Kids
Learning at home gives my kids have the freedom to move through their schoolwork at their own pace. If they “get” a concept we move ahead. No time is wasted. If they struggle we can spend as much time on it as they need. My hubby and I can explain it a million different ways until it clicks in their brains. The pressure to keep up with their neighbor goes away. They work on what they need to work on.
What the Heck Should Our Pace Be?
We move along at our own pace. What the heck should our pace be? Who is there to tell me when they have learned enough? When can we quit? When should we push ahead? Holy moly, there is no actual “stopping point.” We could go on forever…. That doesn’t seem fair. These thoughts circle my brain on a daily basis although they are not as loud as they were our first year. I am settling into just being comfortable knowing that my kids are moving forward. They are learning.
Homeschool Allows Total Educational Freedom
The freedom homeschooling allows us as a family is mind boggling. As homeschooler in the state of Ohio we have to spend a certain number of hours (900) providing instruction. During those 900 hours we are to teach the standard subjects. Work is evaluated at the end of the school year either by administering a standardized test or having a portfolio of my child’s work assessed by a licensed teacher. Everything else is up for debate. The ability to tailor a curriculum that is interesting, suits my child’s unique learning style, and accommodates our family schedule is hard to walk away from. The possibilities are dizzying!
Total Freedom Is Terrifying
Along with total educational freedom comes the responsibility to make every single decision pertaining to your child’s well being and education. No pressure, right? Just make sure they school with the right curricula, at the right time of day, finish the appropriate amount, and receive proper socialization. Drop the ball and who knows how they will turn out. I freak out slightly less often than I used to under this crushing weight of responsibility. If anything it has made me more confident in my ability to make decisions with my kids and understand what they need.
Homeschool Allows for Family Time
Homeschooling allows my kids to spend their days together. If my kids were in public school my oldest and youngest would barely spend a few hours together during the entire school week. (We did public school for a long time. I am very familiar with the pace and I do not miss it!) I am no longer the lunatic mom yelling at everyone to find their socks and “GET IN THE CAR!” We have time. Slow mornings, lunches together, days off when we need it, the big ones helping the littles ones with their lessons; those are the moments that make it worth it.
That’s a Whole Lotta Family Time
We are together. All. The. Time. Okay, maybe not all the time. But being together so much did take some getting used. Its not an adjustment that I regret but it did take some blood, sweat, and tears (mostly mine) to get through. I wish I had been more relaxed our first year and cut them a little more slack for adjusting to such a huge life change. My older kids, especially, need time away with friends, and their own interests. When they get that independence I see them be much more willing to serve the needs of the family when they are with us.
Homeschool Promotes Intrinsic Motivation
My kids do not need a piece of candy for doing an assignment well, nor do they need a trinket for reading a book. They just don’t. I want my kids to know that some things are worth doing just because they are. Being interested in the world and investing their time and creativity is it’s own reward. (I know no child thinks like that but they can grow into it, right?!?) Do things because they are awesome, not for a pile of sweets.
Sometimes Little Rewards Are Excellent Motivators
The downside of this one is basically I stink at providing external rewards. My kids just don’t get them because I forget to give them. I will never remember to enforce a chore chart or reward points toward a larger reward. I am working on remembering that these little things are important to my little people. There were times in public school when some simple Xeroxed certificate or award meant a lot to my kids. I’m try to remember to acknowledge my kids successes in these little ways at least sometimes.
Homeschool Leaves Behind Many Social Pressures
Leaving school meant leaving a lot of social pressure behind. Each of my kids have a good group of kids that remain their friends even as we homeschool. But in any group that large there is a sense of keeping up, of growing up fast enough, of being included in enough that all kids are aware of. Enough. Kids want to know that they are enough and too often look to their peers for approval.
Our kids get plenty of interaction with peers between church, sports, co-op, and community events. But peers are not the primary influence in their lives. It used to be between school and sports we would be lucky to have a couple of hours together as a family. Now my kids might spend a couple of hours a day with other kids taking part in various activities. The rest is time spent with family.
I’m good with that.
Can a Lack of Social Pressure Make my Kid Weird?
“What if they become those weird homeschoolers we all knew growing up?” What if a lack of social pressure allows them to morph into something unrecognizable overnight. I love weird. Eccentric, artsy, nerdy, outliers, are my people. The kind of weird that cant relate to society is the weird that worries me.
My kids are pretty much the same people they were when they attended public school. They have their rough edges and oddities, no different than any other kids. But they can hang out comfortably with tons of different people. They know how to talk to people, both kids and grown ups alike. So, I worry about their level of “weird” a little less.
The Best and the Worst of Homeschool
Everything good has a flip side, right? Homeschooling is no different It gets better, easier, more comfortable. Learning at home is not for everyone but at our house, for now, the benefits far out weigh that little devil on my shoulder.