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To homeschool or not to homeschool. That was the question me and my husband found ourselves trying to answer last year regarding our youngest son’s education. The public school that he attended just didn’t have resources or processes in place to help our child overcome his social anxiety where he could be productive and successful in the traditional school setting.
There is absolutely a stigma and a great deal of misinformation revolved around the notion of homeschooling children.
Homeschooling: the word sends chills down some mothers’ spines. But it doesn’t have to. If there’s one thing that this journey of self-discovery has taught me it’s to work on banishing preconceptions – including those surrounding homeschooling my kids.
Confessions of a Homeschool Rookie
Now, I’m not an obvious candidate for a homeschooler.
My own schooling was every bit traditional. I went to public school, which as most of you know has its ups and downs. I came out of there with a solid education, but a lot of that was due to my own drive to succeed.
No-one else in my family has ever homeschooled any of their children. In fact, my extended family actively disagreed with the concept. This was partly due to ignorance and misunderstandings of what homeschooling entails exactly. In turn, of course, this left me with a skewed view on teaching my children at home.
However, my Shero Ego gave me a nudge. “You’ve come to a conclusion based on nothing,” she/I chided. “How about considering this from a blank slate?”
Excellent point, if I do say so myself! So, I started thinking about it. And after a while, my thinking took me to a whole new perspective.
I think that my lack of homeschooling background will be helpful in some ways, because I’ve come into it with fresh eyes. I hope to tell you all the “obvious” stuff that seasoned homeschoolers might not think to mention!
Is Homeschooling More Effective Than Public School?
Well, that depends on the family. I’m not going to sit here and say that homeschooling is the better option in 100% of cases.
But for me and my youngest son… Yes, it was absolutely the right choice. And it’s a good choice for more families than you might think.
The National Home Research Education Institute recently published an article that made a lot of sense to me.
The study it talks about looked at lots of existing data and managed to compare kids from similar backgrounds, making it way more useful than some earlier research.
The conclusion? In 11 of 14 peer-reviewed studies on academic achievement, researchers saw a “definite” positive effect if the children were homeschooled.
It was cool to see my suspicions confirmed, but I was pretty sold on homeschooling already. However, in the name of balance, I’ll start off by letting you know the not-so-glamorous parts of homeschooling.
Is it Difficult to Homeschool Your Kids?
Well, yeah! But you knew that already.
You need to be prepared for these challenging bits, so here goes:
With homeschooling, you’re going to be making some cuts in two already-scarce resources: time and money.
Your days will be monopolized by kids in a way they wouldn’t be if you carted them off to traditional school.
You’re also sacrificing a potential income from whichever parent stays home and teaches.
There will be hard days. We’re all human, even when we’re being Superheroes.
Sometimes your kids will get frustrated. Sometimes you’ll be multitasking and get discombobulated or even furious. On some days, both of those things will happen at once and everyone will be in a lousy mood- in their feelings for the rest of the day.
These things happen. You’ll come up with new strategies to make them happen less, but just like any other lifestyle, you’ll never eliminate bad days.
Some days, your kids will be sick – or you’ll be sick and still needing to help them with their work.
Sometimes you’ve just had enough; you’ve not slept well recently, maybe you’ve not managed any “me time”, and the constant responsibilities have worn you down to breaking point.
Burnout is also a risk for kids. They might have been struggling with a certain subject (perhaps more than they let on), or they might be feeling frustrated with something else entirely. We all know the outcome of that – tears, yelling and inconsolable little tantrums. A hot mess!
My only tip is to learn how to tell when burnout is imminent, and veer off that road!
The beauty of homeschooling is that it’s flexible; an impromptu afternoon in the park isn’t the end of the world, and it might refresh your kids into a happier state of mind.
If you’re the one suffering, ask your spouse or family to give you an evening to yourself; hang out with friends, get some kickboxing in, or just chill in your bedroom with a facemask. Okay!
7 Hidden Blessings of Homeschooling
Isn’t it nice when things come out in sevens? I wrote this list as part of a self-actualization exercise and was pleased with how it came out, so I thought I’d share it.
Family Unity and Love
I often talk about how families need to be units. Being on the same team give you all a sense of enormous wellbeing and security.
Homeschooling is one of the most efficient ways of fostering that unity.
You find out how your kids learn, the quirks of their interests, the signs of their joys and unhappiness.
In turn, they see you as a more rounded human being, as you share your wisdom as well as your nurturing.
All of this is enveloped in love. It would be anyway, of course, but now I have so much more time to show it!
Freedom in Teaching
I know many teachers who love their jobs, but they all have one identical complaint (apart from budget cuts!): they have to stick to a rigid curriculum… a.k.a. teaching to the test. As a result, there’s no wiggle room to explore new avenues that could result in a more engaged learning environment.
With homeschooling, I can explore tangents joyfully and fearlessly.
“Hey, you’re right, that king does sound extremely interesting – let’s spend an hour learning about him and drawing a family tree. We’ll get back to the blends and digraphs later.”
In this way, I’ve been able to nurture my kids’ own interests and talents, rather than expecting them to conform to a pre-determined list.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get them to learn subjects they don’t like… but I always have a good reason, not just “because the curriculum says so”.
This is so important for someone seeking self-realization. Becoming a teacher has opened a whole new skill set for me:
- Maintaining positivity
- Explaining with clarity
- Learning how to effectively encourage
- Being generous with praise
- Constructive criticism – i.e. “Hey, let’s try this,” instead of “No, that’s wrong.”
Being faced with this new list of skills has highlighted some unforeseen strengths and weaknesses. By reviewing my own progress as well as my kids’, I’m ensuring the best experience for all of us.
I’m learning how to harness discipline, which is solid, rather than motivation, which is often fleeting.
My organizational skills have gone through the roof. They had to, or we’d be swimming in schoolwork and unable to find the right colored pencils. The time constraints also mean I must get creative with errands and chores.
I’ve also become better at squeezing the most out of every minute without creating an atmosphere of pressure. Productivity: easier said than done!
Memory Collecting: Legacy Building
These two go hand-in-hand.
I’m collecting armfuls of bright, meaningful memories with my children every day. Because of this, I’m helping them grow into adults who will continue a legacy of happiness and excellence.
Expanding My Comfort Zone
I was scared about homeschooling. I think I’d have been mad not to be!
It’s a huge responsibility to take control of your children’s education and growth; especially when society has always told you that it’s “not your job”. But in my opinion, if it’s not ultimately the parent’s job to ensure their child receives an adequate education, then whose job is it?
But jumping in feet first has made me more comfortable and confident in my role as their teacher.
This was an unexpected bonus. As I served my family in new ways, I started to notice the presence of God guiding me in this new path.
He had entrusted me with this huge task: building a foundation for my family, upon which they will build their own endeavors. In this way, they can fulfill His purpose for them with confidence and stability.
Even if you are not religious, I urge you to think of this experience in terms of a higher power of some sort. By realizing your place in the universe, you gain perspective on the gravity of your actions.
The Wrap Up
As you’ve probably gathered, I think homeschooling is great. It’s not a traditional path to becoming the best version of yourself, but I truly believe that it’s sped my own journey along. I don’t know if we’ll stay on this journey and choose to homeschool our 3 youngest kids throughout their entire grade school education, only time will tell. But as of right now, today, I have grown as a person through new skills, self-reflection and the sheer joy of watching my kids flourish under my care.
Even if you decide that homeschooling is not for you at this point, I hope you will be able to find value in my experience. Make the most of every hour you spend with your children and learn to guide each other towards wisdom.
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