This word evokes such an emotional response. As it should. Education is important. I get tons of homeschool questions from friends, family, and acquaintances who are either supportive or concerned. Even more so since I started this blog. First and foremost, I always make sure that everyone understands that I am not against public school, nor do I think any parent is making a bad decision by sending their child. Also, I admire and love every educator out there who is advocating for children and working their tail off. They are making a real difference to so many children.
Here are some questions I always get right away:
- Socialization: This is actually a very important issue for us. Before we moved to California, Bentleigh spent the first three years of her life in Texas. We had limited play dates and interaction with family was usually done through FaceTime. This led to a very shy toddler and a long adjustment period when we moved home. The great thing about homeschool is all the opportunities for social interaction. I am able to search for other families who have kids Bentleigh’s age and are involved in the same school who are local. Her teacher organizes monthly field trips. The goal is always to meet with the rest of the school and learn together. While this doesn’t always happen, the opportunity is there. Outside of her school, Bentleigh is a year into gymnastics classes and a Daisy Girl Scout. When I look back on my own school experiences, the times that stand out are the tough times. I allowed myself to be influenced the majority of the time. Very rarely was I comfortable enough to be myself. However, I played soccer for the majority of my childhood. It was on various soccer teams that I developed confidence, leadership skills, and the ability to create my own voice. I view public school as a form of socialization, no doubt. However, it is not the only form or best form. Every child is different!
- The Workload: A great deal of parents who ask me about homeschool have one thing in common- they’re scared. It seems overwhelming. There’s private versus public schools, lesson plans, and tests, and what do I do with my youngest child? Yes. It is absolutely hard, but the lemon is worth the squeeze. Programs like K-12 act like a broker to help you choose a school that is right for you. Private schools offer different curriculum, but come at a price. We chose a public school (yes, it includes California Core) with the idea that I, as a learning coach, can add curriculum that is important to us. This also means that the cost is the same as normal public school- it’s free! We received two, sixty pound boxes full of books, workbooks, and tools for her TK (transitional kindergarten) classes. K-12 is very thorough in the tools they give learning coaches (the person responsible for teaching a homeschooled child) to ensure success. Bentleigh has 8 different subjects and all her lesson plans are done for me. Parents can scroll through the lesson plans as they go, or print them in advance. I choose to print a week in advance so I can balance where it will get done throughout our busy schedules. We recently went on a week long camping trip over Thanksgiving. While I had the option to take the week off, we opted instead to do a few extra lessons each day before we left and take some worksheets with us.
- Schedule: Some homeschool parents will swear by a rigid schedule, others say they don’t change out of their PJ’s until lunch. Personally, my kids do better when we have a bit of a schedule. We don’t do school in pajamas and we follow a “get ready” schedule in the mornings. Now, if you have a toddler, you also understand that they don’t exactly read your planner and understand that they need to eat breakfast in a timely manner in order to make the Class Connect session at 9:00 a.m. So, some mornings are a little different and more challenging. When no one is sick and the toddler tantrums are at a minimum, I find my kids are more productive, interested, and engaged when we start school right away. The later in the day we start, the more attention span issues occur. So, I am a combination of the two types of homeschool parent. While I love the schedule goal I have set in place, I am realistic about the way it is carried through. And if we hit some bumps (like 2 sick days this week), I don’t stress because I know we will make it up. If we have an event we’d like to attend during the weekday, we adjust our schedule and do school after, or double up the day before. Part of the beauty of homeschool is integrating outside activities. It’s understanding lesson plans so we can integrate learning into camping trips, tea parties, and even car rides. For us, it is not overwhelming. It gives my family freedom and empowers us to help them learn.
- California Core: While it receives a lot of heat for it’s math curriculum, the California Core program spans across more than math. Some of these new techniques and processes are fantastic. My dad has a way with numbers that makes learning math quick and fun. He always gave me tips and tricks that were reliable and accurate. I mean, the man makes a living and has earned a great reputation by utilizing numbers in ways that others just can’t. When I was in high school, I was constantly told that the way I was solving my solutions was correct, but unacceptable. This was extremely frustrating. Believe me, I am the first on board with giving our children multiple ways to solve problems and learn, and empowering them to use the tool that makes the most sense for them. That is the idea behind California Core math- giving the child a toolbox in which they can access tools that work for them. In speaking with my family and friends with children currently in Elementary through High School, the way in which these new ideas and techniques are administered can be flawed. Bentleigh’s cousin began Kindergarten learning the same way his parents had. However, a few short years later, the new program was introduced. He was expected to completely relearn basic information in a new way. He went from a wonderful student who thrived in school, to a student who struggled to get C’s and had no interest in learning. Do I think that adversity and a little struggle make for a strong and resilient student and child- yes, absolutely. I am not looking to make school easy for my kid. However, I do not think that a first grader should be exhausted of the learning process. The requirements and expectations on these kids to get into college is overwhelming enough. So, I am taking control to ensure my children learn the necessary tools (we still do Core), but my goal is to ensure they stay engaged and interested in the learning process- and be kids!
- What about College?: If you know me, I am a researcher. I like making decisions that don’t leave me with much surprise. The research I have done shows this growing wave of homeschoolers that colleges and Universities want. These college candidates are more likely to still have an interest in learning. Colleges are finding that they have a new set of skills to overcome obstacles and complete tasks. If schools like Harvard and Stanford are eagerly seeking out the homeschoolers applications to review, then it is clear to me that my child will have a great opportunity for higher education. I am not saying that every homeschooled child has a chance at an Ivy League school. My point is that colleges and universities now look at homeschoolers with interest rather than disfavor.
- But….WHY????: I wish this question could be answered quickly and easily. There are a great deal of reasons why we choose to homeschool our girls- safety, policies, behavior, curriculum, and our educational goals to name a few. However, the point of this post and blog is not to convince anyone that homeschool is for them. Detaining all our reasons just feels… preachy. I want to help others who want to homeschool or are considering it. Again, I would never want to imply or make a parent feel that it is a bad decision to send their child to public school- especially because I know how it feels when others imply the same thing about my choice to homeschool. That is not who I am and does not contribute to the goal of this blog. We are ALL trying to make the best decisions and create the best life for our kids. With that said, I am eager to help and will answer any questions I can! Feel free to leave them in the comments, or send me an email.