noun: homeschooling; plural noun: homeschoolings;
the education of children at home by their parents.
Homeschooling was something my husband and I had always wanted to do for our son. We had gone back-and-forth with the idea since he was born. Our kiddo had always been above the educational curve in school, learning faster and finding himself bored in class. As parents, we loved the idea of having the freedom to teach towards his passions and outside of the box prescribed by the state. I was tired of being stuck with curriculum geared toward his age, rather than his aptitude. After years of waffling back and forth, we bit the bullet and finally pulled him out of standard school in his 6th-grade year.
Although all the freedom in homeschooling sounded great, it also was so overwhelming. How was I supposed to teach my child as well as a licensed teacher? I didn’t know anything about homeschooling or teaching. I’m a writer, not a teacher. How were my husband and I going to handle putting together a good curriculum? I wanted him to succeed; I didn’t want to be the reason he failed in life. Then there was also that whole issue of socializing. Everyone has heard that you need to socialize your children, or they will be sad little things living in your basement until they’re 40. How could we do that if we homeschooled our only child?
So, with a lot of questions in hand, and a goal in mind, I hit the internet. I searched Google first, finding a treasure-trove of information. Then I headed over to Yahoo and found several local homeschool groups. I joined a few and was instantly immersed in hundreds of families that were doing just what I wanted to do. They had answers, links and all kinds of ideas that helped us on our journey. I can’t stress enough how important the local homeschool groups are when you’re first starting out. They offer an assembly of understanding individuals who are deeply passionate about their children and learning.
Once I gathered all my information, links and pats on my back from my new homeschool friends, my husband and I set out to find the right curriculum. Curriculum was the hard part; there is just so much out there to choose from. Most states offer online courses and full-time online school registration. We did the full-time online classes through our state that first year. It helped get our feet wet and learn what we wanted and didn’t want. After a year in that type of online school, we decided we wanted more flexibility with our classes. The full-time online courses seemed too similar to the old brick and mortar school. Also, they loved to add busy work, and that extra fluff was getting old quickly.
We did a lot of research and found what worked for us. Remember, what works for one family won’t necessarily work for another. This is your educational journey, and there aren’t any right or wrong answers. Plus, there are so many opportunities online now for children to take free classes. With sources like Edx.org, Coursera.org, Alison.com and of course Khan Academy, there is a vast pool of free online courses to choose from for all types of subjects. You can also register to take free online classes from MIT, Harvard, Yale and many other universities that are the same classes you’d attend if you were enrolled in the physical school. In many states, you can even dual enroll your child in the local state colleges. So when they graduate high school they can also have an AA degree as well, or at least have a few credited college courses under their belts. The sky’s the limit really.
So now that we have our curriculum … what do we do? Well, I can tell you for us it was a lot of trial and error. My husband and I split the duty at first, even though he works full-time outside of the house. We tried all different ways of teaching until we found our groove. Some homeschool families start early in the day; others start late in the afternoon. Some teach year around, others go with the local school calendar. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that you can do it any way that works for your child and you. As long as they are learning, growing and flourishing … it’s working.
Oh, and that little worry about socialization and homeschooling is a complete myth.
Any homeschool parent you meet will tell you that their children are busy in groups, field trips and with other kids all the time. Most of us homeschoolers join other homeschool families for weekly co-op classes, plus there are field trips happening daily with the plethora of homeschool groups you can join. There are literally some weeks where we are doing so much between school and events, that we can’t get to them all.
All and all, it has been an amazing adventure. We are on our fifth year of homeschooling and each year it just gets better. Our son is still enjoying his courses, even though they’re much more challenging than they would be if he was in a standard brick and mortar school. He is even graduating a full year early next year, and heading off to college. Homeschooling is challenging, I won’t lie to you … but it is the best thing, we as a family have ever done. Seeing my son smile each day, and being a part of his learning experience is priceless. I can honestly say I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Photo: ©Julie Anderson All Rights Reserved