This post is about my family’s choice to homeschool. I realize we are extremely fortunate that it is a choice and acknowledge that for many families it is not viable. Every family makes the best choices and decisions for their family.
We have been homeschooling now for 2 full months, which according to the influencers on the internet, makes me an expert right?
Ha, no such thing.
A few years ago, I seriously considered homeschooling. Then my child turned four, and I decided she could use additional supportive adults in her life who put up with her many questions, quirky habits, and general “four-ness.” I sent her off to Pre-K at the elementary school, and she had a lovely go of it. I enjoyed the time with my toddler. We had interesting things to talk about when Big Sis came home from her day. Public school has been great for her.
Fast forward to March of 2020- school closed for Spring Break, and the children have not returned yet.
Homeschool for us was a bit of a last-minute choice, and I am still learning what’s going on. I have been homeschooling my daughter since September. Here are some of the things that have been working and not working.
Having a loose/flexible schedule
I am a fly by the seat of my pants person. I am the friend that likes same day playdates, hangouts, and last-minute cookie deliveries. I am not the friend to schedule get-togethers two months down the road. That makes me feel anxious.
My approach to homeschooling is much the same. I plan a week out and go from there.
I’ve figured out that if I get up early with my 2nd grader, we can get in a good hour’s worth of work before her sister wakes up. This hour is near magical. She is freshly rested and not tired of me yet. We hit Language Arts through bites of oatmeal and begin social studies over a hairdo. This small routine has worked well and is about all the structure I can handle. Once little sister wakes up, the game’s afoot and we try to do more active work.
Time to move at her own pace
We have loved the ability to work faster or slower on subjects. Sometimes my daughter is extremely interested in a topic so we dive deeper; other times, she cruises ahead, and I have to prepare more material. I will never complain about needing more books at the library for her interests.
Alaska is a very supportive state for homeschooling. We are part of a local group that provides a contact teacher to check in with, assistance choosing curriculum, and someone to cheer on your student.
Recently we provided work samples to our contact teacher to show progress. My daughter loved showing her paintings, soccer skills, piano duet, desk she made, handwritten story, and science experiments.
As much or as little screen time as I want
Some days there is very little screen time. Other days, our home is basically a Cinemark.
Both of those days are ok!
Most of her 2nd-grade work is book work, reading, or hands-on. I love using screen time as my tool. We’ve found beautiful animal documentaries on Disney+ that go well with our Social Studies. Also, Mary Poppins is very long and can fill time when I’m on a Zoom Call or phone meeting. I love that I can dictate this and am not beholden to my 2nd grader’s screen duties.
Families that have homeschooled love talking about flexibility. That’s one part I truly enjoy.
Last month at 11 pm one night, I saw tickets for a special reindeer tour at a local nature experience, Running Reindeer Ranch. I bought the tickets and the next day, we shifted our bookwork plans to spend a Life Science morning at the ranch. We pet eight reindeer as they wandered around the hills. The staff taught my girls what reindeer eat, all about antlers, and what the new calves are like. When we arrived home, we made a list of things we learned about reindeer and what we wanted to know more about for our next trip to the library.
I’ve also enjoyed the flexibility to outsource subjects when needed. We found a local art class at the Children’s Museum that ran for a month. My full-time Army husband is completely in charge of the science curriculum, and I’ve loved seeing their current studies on rocks and minerals.
What’s Not Working
This introverted mom needs space
I love, love, love my space. And being alone to recharge. Homeschooling is not the perfect match for this.
I do not have the perfect rhythm yet. As of now, it’s having a quiet time/nap time in the afternoon and staying up much, much too late in the evening.
Not as much social interaction due to COVID-19
I have a fair amount of friends who homeschool their kids, so I do not believe the homeschool kids aren’t socialized stereotypes. That said, I miss the larger social interactions we could have through public school and more socializing time for my 2nd-grader with other homeschool kids. Our family is keeping a very tight COVID bubble and as winter approaches, I’m not excited to hunker down and have less time with other people.
Multiple roles for one mom
I struggle with filling multiple roles of mom and teacher. I know that parents are always teaching, blah blah blah…but this is different, right? Homeschool is another ball to juggle.
I am learning that I have to back off some things I want to
teach or correct (nag) so that I can save that feedback for school things. While my daughter was going to public school, I was her piano teacher. I work very hard to be a mom during the week while listening to her practice and only being the teacher at lessons or if she asks for my feedback. This has (for the most part) kept us friends and learning piano. I joke with my daughter that my teacher’s name is Ms. Bubblegum, (complete with a silly voice) which keeps things light when I ask a harder teacher request.
Little brainpower for preschool
When we first started homeschooling, I had really high hopes for doing preschool with my 3-year-old.
Not happening, y’all.
I bought a wonderful at-home play-based preschool book from one of my favorite Instagram accounts, Busy Toddler, but it’s just not happening yet. I look through the book and can find activities to do, but the only schedule we are on for Miss 3-year-old is eating and an afternoon nap. I really feel OK about this since she is still young. We do play a lot of games, sing songs, and learn in everyday life.
No school is perfect right now, and there are challenges for every family. Homeschool is what I’m choosing in the season. Here’s to hoping we all find our groove!
Are you homeschooling too? How’s it working out? I’ve started a Homeschool Instagram account to document our discoveries and epic fails. Follow along on Instagram @hahahomeschooling !