I’m not gonna lie and tell you homeschooling is “easy.” But what I will say is that homeschool may not be what you think it is.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, I know a lot of families are questioning what they will do in the next month or so when school starts. Especially considering the poor response in the States, the thought of physically sending children to school might be frightening. Some children may have not liked the virtual schooling that they experienced last Spring. And while it could (hopefully!) be better now that teachers have had some time to prepare, it may still not be a good fit.
So I’ll let you in on another option: homeschool. For people who had never contemplated homeschooling, the idea may seem strange, overwhelming, or just stressful. And it might be a little of all of those things. But it is possible.
I’ll outline a few aspects of homeschooling that may help you make a decision.
1. Time is on your side.
Traditional schools aren’t as efficient as you are. It takes exponentially more time to teach 30 kids a concept that it does to teach just one student. Don’t count the 8 hours a day that your child spends in school as the same amount of time you’ll need at home.
You also aren’t limited by the bounds of the school day or week. Parents who work from home or who have childcare options while they go out to work will likely fit most of their teaching into a couple of hours in the evening. Use weekends too! Make a schedule that works for your family. This Brave Writer podcast has a nice introduction for the “suddenly-at-home schoolers” about juggling education and remote work.
2. It’s not as isolated as you think.
“But what about socialization?” is a question homeschoolers are asked so often that it’s become a joke. First off, we are in the pandemic times. All rules of normalcy have flown out the window. Typically, homeschoolers have classes and meet-ups with other families in their area. And hopefully some of those kinds of things will be possible throughout the coming year.
But even if your family is isolating, the amount of technology we have available can help bridge the gap. Of course, families need tech access and have to learn about internet safety. But you as a parent aren’t alone. There’s support for homeschooling families and I expect it to grow as more families opt-out of traditional schools.
3. Requirements vary by state.
In the United States, education is mostly regulated by each individual state. While there are some federal rules and funding for public schools, the state maintains most of the organization.
And each state has got their own rules. In some states, like Maryland, homeschooled kids must be registered with their district and parents must present a portfolio of work in 8 subjects twice during the year. Other states, like Texas, simply ask parents to teach “good citizenship.”
You’ll need to find out your state’s rules to get started. If you intend to eventually send your child back to public school, each district will have a procedure for evaluating re-enrolling children. Finding out what’s required for that in advance will save you from scrambling later on. However, it’s not difficult to find the basic grade-level objectives to make sure you’re not skipping over anything.
4. There are lots of resources for a wide variety of learning styles and families.
If you’ve been browsing through homeschool blogs or Instagram accounts, you’ll see a dizzing array of terminology and curriculum options. My own recommendation is to first think about your child and have a discussion about how they like to learn. Getting buy-in from kids is key to creating a successful learning environment.
The majority of homeschool curriculum is designed for a Christian-centric education. Some families try to use those and just skip over or add in whatever they want. I would recommend against that. There are secular options out there!
You’ll also find that homeschool curriculum runs the gamut from online public school K-12 to, well, not using any formal curriculum at all. Many people use separate things for different subjects. The choices can be intimidating, but if you first figure out the type of curriculum you need, you should then be able to find a good match.
5. Your kids might actually enjoy learning.
Growing up, I hated school. With a few bright exceptions, I was mostly bored and uninterested in my schoolwork. Of course that’s not everyone’s experience, but if it sounds like your child, homeschooling might give them a fresh start.
There’s so much flexibility in homeschool with respect to the topics you choose. Without the logistical confines of a classroom full of other kids, you can tailor your child’s education to fit their needs and give them some ownership of their own learning.
I know I’m biased as a homeschooler, but I think this is fantastic option for most families in the time of COVID. We know that homeschooling isn’t going to work for some kids who live in difficult home situations. Homeschool (or virtual public school) is one way to ease the strain on schools. Smaller classes might make this school year more manageable–at least that’s my hope.
I’ll leave the comments open below. Please reach out and ask if you’ve got any questions or if you would like to share your homeschool experiences.