Parents in 2019: There’s no way we would ever homeschool our kids.
Parents in 2020: Maybe we should look at homeschooling our kids.
What a year 2020 has been! There have been a lot of challenging and uncertain times. Now the question facing many families is “what is the best way to educate our children this school year?”
For many families, adopting the COVID-19-related changes at their normal school will be the best option. For others though, homeschooling is worth considering.
If you’re thinking, “No way, I homeschooled my kids this spring,” let us reassure you, that was not homeschool. It was crisis schooling. Crisis schooling is very different, mainly because it wasn’t a decision made by parents based on what would be best for their family and their specific situation. Parents and children were thrown into the uncertainty of educating at home during a pandemic with a lot of confusion, adjustments and loss for all involved. Try not to let your experience of educating at home this spring define what this fall could look like. It can be very different, filled with more peace, excitement and fun!
Here are five things you should consider as you decide whether homeschooling is right for your family. Before getting into our list, let us start by saying that nothing on this list is an indictment on teachers or traditional education. We both grew up in public schools and adore teachers and everyone dedicating their lives to serving children. We chose homeschooling because we decided it was right for our family.
5 considerations if you are considering homeschooling:
- Shift your mindset. Homeschool is not a traditional school environment. Homeschool families are often surprised at how little time they spend in a focused learning environment. This is especially true for families who grew up in a traditional education environment. It was hard for us at first to think about how to fill up 7 hours of learning each day. Over time, we have realized that is not the objective. You do not need to re-create a traditional learning environment. Life is learning, and some days may be filled with a lot of experiences and not a lot of focused learning. You will find your rhythm and figure out what works best for your family. This looks different for everyone, so do not get caught up in comparing yourself to others.
- Define your “Why.” Before making this decision, you have to become absolutely clear on why you have chosen to homeschool. There will be hard days. Days when you want to give up and days when you will second-guess every decision you’ve ever made. It’s on these days that being a part of a community will help you. One of the most common things we hear from parents is “I just don’t know that I can do it” or “I don’t think I’m cut out to be MY kids’ teacher.” We completely get it! Our homeschool journey has been filled with doubt and continues to be ever-changing. Homeschooling is an exercise of patience, sacrifice, perseverance and the continued willingness to learn. It’s similar to parenting. You don’t always know what you’re doing, but you press on, learning more and more about yourself and your child. When you are facing a tough day, leaning into your “why” will be what gets you through the day.
- You are your child’s expert. You know your kids better than anyone else and are best suited to create worthwhile learning experiences tailored to their specific interests and needs. We wouldn’t consider ourselves experts in any of the traditional educational topics, but we are experts when it comes to knowing our children and their needs. You will continue to learn more and more about your children, and you will connect with them in ways you never thought possible. Sharing in the gift of learning with your kids is a very powerful experience, and watching them continue to grow in their learning is amazing.
- You will grow. You will learn A LOT, too. Docendo discimus is a Latin proverb that means “by teaching we learn.” When you are your child’s primary educator, you become the person they go to when they have a question (or 3,000 questions). You will not know the answers to all of their questions, but you will learn the answers. While educating our children, we are finding that we are redeeming our own education in many areas.
- Establish a community. Today’s homeschool community is filled with many resources, curriculum and co-ops to choose from. Oklahoma has a huge homeschool community! Finding people who will speak life into your homeschooling journey, give encouragement and remind you that you can do it is very important. We are not meant to live without connection and community.
There are so many homeschool resources out there. So many, in fact, that it can be very overwhelming. Remember, you do not need to know everything going into this journey. Homeschooling is a fluid, ever-changing journey, especially while you are still figuring it all out. Listed below are a few ideas of places to start.
- Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
- The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning and Life by Julie Bogart
- The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education by Ainsley Arment
- The Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Homeschooling by Durenda Wilson
- The Good and the Beautiful
- Teaching Textbooks
- Classical Conversations
- Math U See
- All About Reading
We recognize that home education isn’t right for everyone, but for those considering this huge decision know that you don’t have to know everything, you are not going to “mess them up” and most importantly you CAN do this.
Morgan and Chris Gordon live in Edmond and homeschool their three children. They love learning alongside their children, traveling, and being in the Colorado mountains. Morgan works part-time as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Chris is a training manager and adjunct professor.