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Thoughts on home learning from a 12 year veteran homeschool parent

I’m grateful for the position my family is in regarding our kid’s education this fall. We homeschool, and always have. We use a charter, so we follow state education standards. We do the yearly state testing (except last sprig when they canceled it). But we have a lot of friends in the local homeschooling community and I know a lot of families who do things very differently. So I know there are so, so many options on how to educate a child.

Parents are being put in a bad place right now. I’m hearing a lot of politicians confidently say that schools will be open as normal in the fall. I see schools saying they are unsure if they can open safely, and they are working on systems and plans. More and more top universities are saying they will be offering only online classes for the fall. I’m grateful I don’t have to wonder who to trust, and what will be safe for my children. A luxury most parents don’t have. I want to share some thought to those parents who are considering keeping their kids home, but are daunted by the idea. Who think they aren’t qualifies or prepared to teach their child.

I hear a lot from non-homeschooling parents that they could never do what I do. I think people think I have the skills of a classroom teacher. I do not. Classroom teachers have to teach a group of 30+ children all at once despite them all working at their own levels. They have to juggle so much, and deal with parents and school board expectations on top. I have to help two students that I have known from birth, and understand very, very well. I can move the daily schedule, and even the calendar around to best suit our needs. If I don’t like a book or curriculum isn’t working for us, I can drop it right then, and do something else. Homeschooling is a picnic compared to teaching in a classroom.

Parents who were trying to quickly adapt to a distance learning situation last spring while also dealing with shelter in place orders and either working from home or doing essential work with all kinds of new rules (I was in this group) were not homeschooling. They were emergency pandemic schooling from home. High five to everyone who made it through that.

My oldest will be a senior in high school, and my youngest will be in 8th grade. So I will also have to luxury of not needing daycare for them on the days I work outside the home. We have been homeschooling forever, and they know how to learn on their own: they have spent their lifetime learning how. Anyone starting out won’t be able to jump in where we are and have it work. But if you don’t want to send your kids into a classroom this fall, you can find a way for them to learn at home. It really isn’t hard. It’s just something you aren’t used to because our society assumes you send your kids away to school, that’s just expected.

I know people who work full time and still make homeschooling work. They do school in the evenings and weekends – or at least the parts that need parental involvement. The younger your kids the more involvement they will need. And the littles will still need an adult with them during the day, and this is where it gets rough if the parents jobs are moving them back out of the house. I don’t know all the solutions to all the logistic problems you might have, but someone is doing what you want to do. I recommend finding local homeschool groups, and asking questions. You can ask me your questions too, and I’ll do my best. Google or Facebook groups are a good starting point to find them. The only reason I haven’t completely dropped Facebook is to stay connected to my local homeschool group. I’ll give this advice: unless you want to have a Christian influence include the word ‘secular’ in every search you do – for support groups, for books or curriculum, for everything. Even then some Christian slanted stuff will creep in, so check, but it helps.

On the plus side, homeschooling takes way less time than a traditional school day. There are no lines to form and wait in. No waiting for other students to finish something before moving on. No busy work. Young kids need 2 to 4 hours maybe, and my big kids finish a day’s work in 4 to 6-ish hours (the high end is for the high schooler and includes local community college classes she has taken since the 9th grade). Then they’re done. No ‘homework’ later. And in case you think they can’t be getting a good education, they always test well above standard on the state tests and the high schooler is acing her college work. Going to school does not equal getting educated. But I digress.

Every state will have its own rules for regulating homeschooling so that’s another reason to find local groups to guide you if you are considering this. For Californians, I can point you here for the basics. The California Homescool Network is another spot for info. And ask me questions! I can’t promise I’ll have all the answers, but I’ll do my best.

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