Pre Covid and really before our kids were school aged I dreamed of homeschooling but it was always just that, a dream. I thought it was never really an option and then when Rowen was diagnosed I assumed that homeschooling would be impossible. I thought he needed the supports school gave and also valued the opportunities to socialize at school. Anytime I brought up the idea of homeschooling, both when I was growing up and as a parent when I had kids, it was usually laughed at or talked about in a way that implied homeschooling kids were “weird” or at a disadvantage.
Homeschooling has been a topic in my house since I was probably 16. At about 16 I begged my mom to let me do homeschooling for high school, I wrote an essay on why she should let me and tried my hardest to persuade her. Unfortunately my working single mom of three wouldn’t let me. I may have not forgiven her (sorry Mom, lol) but I can understand why she said no.
When COVID happened and we were all forced into schooling our kids at home it wasn’t everything I imagined it to be, there was a lot of pressure for us as parents and for the kids. My son started off okay but ended up begin unable to participate without huge fights and lots of tears. At first I was delighted that this opportunity to homeschool was happening but in the end I dreaded each day of “school” and the fights that would occur. We ended up unable to finish all the work that was sent home.
During summer break I was trying not to think about the Fall and returning to school. Our world was changing everyday and it seemed impossible to predict or plan that far in advance. However by the middle of summer the fear of returning to school and ending up back to what we were liked in the Spring with our school from home schedule had me reconsidering what would be best for our whole family. In the end I decided that the risk was too big and the possibility of going back to that would not only be horrible for Rowen but also for me. I decided to consider a more traditional homeschool approach with the ability for us to have more control over the delivery.
After much research and discussions we made the choice to homeschool our kids this year. One month into it and I can say it is a ton of work and none at all… it is the strangest combination of just playing and working hard at piecing together a plan for our days/weeks/months. It is everything from the big picture stuff (longterm, meeting learning outcomes, what do they need to graduate/ progress in school), funding (how do we get it, and how do we use it), out of pocket expenses (homeschooling can really add up, budgeting and prioritizing) and then the day to day with when and how we fit it in, what does it look like, when and how do we report to our teacher, etc. It has taken work to shift our thinking around what school is suppose to look like and the possibility of what it can look like. I am starting to see how having less of a plan and following where the days take us can lead to so many opportunities for learning that we are normally too busy for and miss. I love how my kids are passionate about what we are learning about and how much they retain knowledge, share it with our family and friends and also are just genuinely interested in stuff.
We have had way less TV and iPad time, and the time we do spend on screens is often spent on more educational learning. I love how involved we are with their learning and how we get to see first hand how they progress and what they are passionate and proud about. It has shifted my beliefs around education and how we teach/learn. It has also really opened my eyes to the reality of our education system and the direction it is headed. So much of how our schools run is based on budget, not how kids learn best. I used to assume there was some science or research and logic behind the set up of traditional schools but the more we start learning outside of the box the more I love it and see how fun “school” can be and how far kids can go when given the attention/time and opportunities to inspire them.
By the end of September I was feeling burnt out and had an “I survived September” kinda mindset. However, October has started off with sunshine, a field trip and a day spent some inspiring parents and kids. I am feeling privileged to be able to spend this year with our kids, take time to learn with them and to be surrounded by such supportive and encouraging people. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for us, and am excited!
If you are considering homeschooling, start asking around and do a bit of research you may be surprised at how many people around do homeschool. You also might be surprised about what you think is homeschooling and what it actually can be.
Whether you homeschool or not, I think now more than ever be informed. Take the time to find out what your kids are learning or doing at school and how it is being taught or talked about. No one cares more about your kids than you, so make sure you ask questions and be in the loop. School is not “free daycare”, I feel like Covid really opened my eyes to the reality that for a lot of people school is essential because they need it for “daycare”. I believe school should be a place our kids go and feel safe, have fun, get to create and are inspired and learning. We want to raise kind, smart, curious, informed people and school should be a place to nurture that . I think somewhere along the way we got so caught up in life, and dropping off and picking up we somehow lost track of the in between time… I think of all the sad and hard things Covid has done maybe a good thing should be that it has allowed us the time to reconsider what is important and how we had set up things pre covid might need to change?!?