Should I homeschool my kids: A memoir of the process and learnings of a newly-homeschooling mom. Just kidding…but really. ?
I was in the middle of writing a post about our favorite homeschool resources for kindergarten when I began reflecting on how we got here in the first place. In my short time homeschooling, I’ve learned that there are a billion different reasons why a family might choose to homeschool, and I’m always fascinated to learn about the reasons, joys, struggles, opinions, and lessons that others have encountered on their journey. So, I decided to share our unique story.
How I was led to the idea of homeschooling:
It all started with my own educational experience. I don’t feel like I fit into the box created by the traditional school system. I was wiggly, vocal, very curious and rarely thought in a linear direction. Fun fact: all these things still hold true today. By the time I was old enough to fill out college applications I was less than interested. My parents worked with me to tour and find a place that I could happily call home…since skipping college wasn’t an option. The ironic part is that all I ever wanted to be was a mom and a teacher. So, naturally, after a lifetime of wanting to get out of school, I went to school to teach.
I found a school that offered an incredibly unique, way-out-of-the-box program for liberal studies, The Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. Instead of multiple 3-unit classes, I had one 12-unit class that covered everything but math (which I had to catch up to with two remedial classes, by the way!). Instead of 300 people in a class, we had 15. The classes were student-led and revolved around reading texts and novels, discussing the impact of the readings on ourselves, society, the past, and future, and then applying that knowledge by interacting with what we were learning. If we were studying modern art, we’d head to a museum of modern art. If we were learning about Buddhism, we’d visit a Buddhist temple. You get the idea!
Needless to say, my mind was blown. I still say to this day that I’d be a genius if I learned that way my whole life 😉 What if I could give that gift to my own kids?! The idea struck a major chord.
I continued in liberal studies for the first two years and then realized that, just like the traditional school system, I didn’t fit very well in the traditional teaching system, either. I changed my major to child development #becausebabies were still my jam, but I wanted to learn more about the “why” than the “how”.
Years later I still loved the idea of homeschooling, but I had my own kids, and I thought, for sure, it wouldn’t be a good fit. I didn’t think I had the patience, knowledge or bandwidth to homeschool. Nevertheless, I knew I had to try or live forever with “what if”.
So, I’m trying.
I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so my youngest is really just along for the ride. We are doing a hybrid homeschool program which means he goes to school with other homeschool kiddos 2x a week (which gives me time to work on Earthly) and homeschools the other 3 days. We are completely responsible for our own curriculum and such on the days off, but have guidance from the school and teachers should we need it.
We’re half a year in and I’m happy (and surprised) to report that I love it more than I could have imagined. I also cry about it more than I could have imagined. It’s somewhat of a beautiful mess, but one that I adore beyond words. And still, we play it day by day.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. I am a better parent when I homeschool. I’m more kind, patient, and understanding when I wear my “teacher hat”. I’m focused and engaged with my kids in a way that I’m not, otherwise.
2. My relationship with my kids is better because of it. Not only because of point #1, but because I am more aware of their needs, strengths and their areas of opportunity. I’m tapped into how they learn and what they want to learn about in a way I wouldn’t typically be, and it teaches me a ton about how they process the world.
3. Homeschooling is extremely time-consuming. Between lesson planning, teaching, assisting, pausing for brain breaks (but not being able to truly change gears to a housekeeper, entrepreneur, etc.), and re-writing said lesson plans as we adjust, it just takes a lot of time.
4. It can bring mom guilt to a whole new level. Have you ever felt bad about feeding your child a processed meal? Forgetting their sweater on a cold day? Try “what if I fail at teaching my child their fundamental education skills” on for size. Or imagine that moment you discover a new tool or read about a new theory that is the complete opposite of what you’ve been doing….and that thing you’ve been doing? Yea, apparently it’s “the worst thing you can do to teach (fill in the subject here)”.
5. It’s an incredible tool for self-growth. It’s forced me to give myself grace and forgiveness, to sit still in my confidence, and to expand my creative mind.
6. I get a second chance to learn. I get to fill any cracks that I fell through during my own school experience while we pave his own crack-free path through school.
7. I am fulfilled by teaching in a way I didn’t realize I would be. Problem solving and creativity are my jam. I love lesson-planning, turning trash into treasures, and making “school” out of a new city. The fulfillment piece is key for me. I absolutely wouldn’t have the fire to do it if I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Homeschooling has changed my life in a major way. Most days I live in a strange mix of overwhelmed and fulfilled, both beyond measure. I still need to learn to integrate my needs and personal goals since I get far less “downtime” than ever before. And yet, strangely, on off days I find myself craving the connection and fulfillment of our homeschool days. It’s a trip!
So, that’s our story–and just the beginning.
If you’re a homeschool parent or thinking about becoming one, I’d love to hear your stories and questions!
To learning while teaching,