Well, who saw this coming? We now find ourselves in a bizarre predicament of doing one thing we don’t like (virtual schooling) and another thing we never thought we would do (homeschooling).
As overwhelming as lifestyle changes can be, homeschooling is not a need for panic, but celebration. Celebrating the immense amount of options now available. Celebrating the learning and JOY of learning that YOU get to instill in your children. Homeschooling is a privilege that so many busy parents don’t get to partake in. Therefore, let’s take a deep breath and choose to see this unsettling time as an opportunity to improve upon your child’s education. Here’s how:
Choosing a homeschooling curriculum
If you have begun the aimless googling search of looking at the curriculum, you know that this is the most overwhelming part. There are hundreds upon hundreds of options; from free to a down payment on a home. The first question that you need to ask yourself when beginning your search is; “Do we want to use a religious or non-religious (non-secular or secular) curriculum?”
What you will discover is that a large majority of homeschooling curriculum are non-secular, or religious. There are significantly fewer secular programs and a small cluster of slightly non-secular ones. Meaning that the programs mention God, but are vague and very non-denominational.
Once you have narrowed down which group you fall into then you can move on to what kind of learners your children are and what qualities of schooling do you deem important.
For example, Child A loves building legos, listening to stories and being outdoors. With that information, you may lean more towards curriculums heavy on manipulative (things you touch). You may also find that the same child could enjoy a literature heavy program because of their love of narration. Welcome! This is what most of us deal with, which is why it is very common for a homeschooling family to use NUMEROUS curriculums during the same year. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PICK JUST ONE!
If a child likes comic books, you may use Beast Academy for Math. If your family are avid hikers you may use nature journaling and trail cards for science. Thus, avoiding a formal curriculum altogether. YOU CAN DO THAT. YOU get to choose. Are you seeing why homeschooling is fantastic yet?
Where to homeschool and what does that space look like
We have all had that gift-giving scenario when the child plays with the box for hours instead of the toy. Homeschooling is a lot like that in regards to ‘what is needed.’ The fact is very little is needed. The obvious things we consider necessities; pencils, a quality sharpener, paper (lined and craft), scissors, erasers, ruler, glue, etc. The biggest thing needed, is a place to store all of the books and curriculum that inevitably you acquire. Some curriculums come with a lot of material and others do not, but having it readily available to reference is important. A nice flat surface for the fundamental things like writing is helpful and many families add a whiteboard, or chalkboard for visual learners. But Where to Homeschool?
The answer is anywhere and everywhere. The restraints of the conventional classroom do not exist in this lifestyle. That is one of the biggest perks of being a homeschooler. If on Wednesdays your family schools at the park, or the beach then so be it. If you need a mental health day you should take one. There is no bad place to school. The table, the driveway, the treehouse, the car, the grocery store, you name it. The opportunities for teaching are everywhere and the children will find them for you.
There is a good chance that during the COVID Zoom Schooling you have noticed how much time is wasted waiting turns, figuring out the electronics, etc. The same goes for in-person conventional schooling. A lot of time is spent lining up, washing hands, moving from one location to another. You do not have those issues at home. Therefore, your day is much shorter. The schedule is yours to manipulate any way you like. If you want to teach from 2-6 pm you can do that. Our family is on a 9 to 12:30 schedule, which also includes chores and instrument practice. Many families plan a day or two off during the week as well. When our children were little we only did formal school work on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Now that they are older and there is more to get done we use a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule and reserve Wednesdays for field trips and appointments.
It is very common for families to use a day of their week for co-ops (learning in a group with other families), enrichment classes (classroom setting on specific topics), camps, subject-specific play dates, clubs and the list goes on. The options are limitless.
There are so many Things to Love
When listing the wonderful things about homeschooling, freedom of scheduling and travel are way up on that list for most. Some of the others that you won’t hear as often are things like; Sleep. Not having to wake up children and frantically get them to school is a gift. Clothing, everything is school appropriate and play worthy. Teaching your children how to be functioning humans by learning work ethic, chores, sewing, cooking, woodworking, life skills (TAXES), etc is priceless and an area where the school system has failed us.
The greatest gift of homeschooling is watching a concept come to life for your child and knowing that you were the sole force in making that happen. The rewards are immense and worth the fear that COVID has caused. To homeschool now, is an opportunity that you may never have again. Take a deep breath and jump.