enough: as much or as many as required
It’s the summer of 2020 and I’ve suddenly found myself fielding more questions about homeschooling than ever before. With decisions looming for the fall, some people are looking for answers, advice and encouragement regarding the option of homeschooling.
My husband is the oldest of seven siblings, all home schooled through high school, so we are a second generation home school family. This fall, we’ll have a senior in the house!
As her mom and teacher the past 12 years, graduation will be such a huge accomplishment for both of us. She will complete this season of her life and I will have my first graduate , with two more siblings close behind.
The biggest myth I’ve heard from moms over the years regarding homeschooling is this:
“I could NEVER do it!”
Moms (and Dads and Grandparents, etc): You absolutely can if you want to.
Don’t let a feeling of inadequacy be a factor as you weigh schooling options for the fall.
We all feel a little helpless as new parents, right? We struggle through figuring out diapers and naps and feeding schedules and baby baths and so much more, but we LOVE these kids and we just have to do our best. And you know what? You’re doing a great job!
They’re alive, they’re safe, and they’re loved.
Homeschooling can seem just as overwhelming; stepping into the unknown, feeling unqualified, filled with the risk of screwing up and just not being enough for your child.
Spoiler alert: You are enough.
There is an abundance of resources, a thriving community to support you, and the honest truth is that no one knows, loves and sees your kids quite like you do.
Reflecting on our years of living this homeschooling lifestyle, I’ve come to the realization that this is simply an intentional extension of parenting. It has blended into our lives in such a way that means we never stop teaching and learning, guiding and growing. We don’t pause parenting to put on our “teacher hat.” We instruct our kids in strength of character and life skills alongside algebra and geography.
“But, I’m just not patient enough.”
If you’ve survived newborn sleepless nights and toddler tantrums, I promise that you are capable of long division as well. The best part of all is that in the comfort of your own home, you AND your kids have the opportunity to take breaks to snuggle, pray, have a snack, take a walk and come back to a challenge with a fresh start.
Trust me, you’ve got this!
Homeschooling 2020 Crash Course:
So you’re looking at homeschooling this year and you’re thinking “where do I even start?!”
First, find your state laws and requirements. They’re all slightly different and you need to know the specifics for your own state.
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is a great place to start: https://hslda.org/legal
You have options regarding just how to meet those requirements.
OPTION 1: PUBLIC VIRTUAL SCHOOL
There is most likely a public school in your area that provides virtual school. This is not the emergency online school that frustrated many parents. It’s technically not homeschooling, although it is a great home based educational choice if you view this as a temporary situation, intending to rejoin in-person instruction when there is more stability in a year or two.
OPTION 2: PRIVATE VIRTUAL SCHOOL
There are several out there in the world of the internet and I admit I’m not very familiar with any myself, but if you’re looking for a program that provides everything you need, including the teaching itself, this may be a good choice for your family.
Here’s an example of a popular program:
OPTION 3: TRADITIONAL HOMESCHOOLING
This option contains a vast array of different styles to choose from. If you were to walk into the homes of a handful of homeschooling families across the country you might find one family using textbooks, learning Latin, you might find another diving into original stories and documents (called living books), or another family working on a creative art project or DIY home renovation project together. You could certainly find some families doing all three.
I recently was looking through the different types of educational styles and realized that we are most aligned with something called “unschooling.” I admit, for a long time I heard this term and had visions of barefoot children running through fields, collecting bugs and never cracking open an Algebra textbook. Oh how silly I was for that perception based purely on the term itself!
Unschooling is simply self-directed learning. It means as a parent, I have always had the goal of teaching my kids HOW to learn, and sharing with them a LOVE for learning. With three kids, they all have different interests. My son has always been fascinated by animals. Much of his science in grade school was pointed in this direction. One of my daughters begged to take a marine biology course. Her sister begged not to! She'll be taking an astronomy course this year instead.
The beauty of homeschooling is in the flexibility, the opportunity to customize an education based on the personality and interests of our children. As a parent, yes, I decide that they need to learn to read, but then I look at each individual child and choose books and stories for them that I know will engage them, challenge them, delight them. So many times I have heard, “This book looks so boring!” as they crack open the cover… but then “this is my favorite book!” follows chapters later. No everything is CHOSEN by my child, but it was chosen specifically with that child in mind.
As a homeschooling parent, I have the awesome privilege of guiding my children’s education, helping them discover and explore new interests. This is especially excited in their high school years, as they ponder possible career paths. We have the unique ability in setting them on an educational trajectory toward their future.
Here’s an excellent resource on different homeschooling philosophies and more:
Whatever you choose for your family, know that there is a whole community here to support you. Most states have homeschooling associations you can join and many cities and churches have
co-ops, an opportunity to gather with other families for field trips, classes and community.
CURRICULUM WE LOVE:
Teaching Textbooks – self grading math from 3rd grade to Pre-Calculus
Apologia Science – interest based elementary age studies, high school level Chemistry, Biology and more
Heart of Dakota – all in one curriculum with daily lessons pre-planned for parents
Mystery of History – an easy to read textbook with timelines and hands-on activities
Constitutional Literacy – high school level course created by Dr. Michael Farris, founder and chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association
Evan-Moor – language arts for elementary age students
Universal Yum Box – okay, it’s not a curriculum but it’s delicious. We love tasty addition to our geography studies!
CodaKid - online coding for kids of all ages
Gospel of Mark- This was a great series to work through with my teens. We slowed it down to last much longer than the intended 11 weeks.