I write this with trepidation. There are several reasons for deciding to homeschool this coming school year which I will explain. I first want to acknowledge that being a mostly stay-at-home mom affords me an easy transition into this role. I recognize this path is not for everyone and am by no means trying to argue it for all.
That being said, the easiest reason to understand how we have come to this decision is that we are enjoying the minimally structured schooling that has occurred because of COVID-19. My husband and I discussed homeschooling before my son went into Kindergarten, but with a big dose of fear, decided it was best to leave his education to those who were trained to do so. But since we are liking our new family dynamic, and with the potential for schools not starting in the fall, I decided to do some research on the idea of homeschooling.
The reason I have been enjoying this unstructured time is that my children are taking learning into their own hands with excitement and wonder. My two older boys (Kindergarten and Preschool) collaborate and learn from each other. The dynamic is so magical to watch and I feel privileged to be in the front seat cheering on their discoveries.
Homeschooling has always been a thought in the back of my mind as a crazy, but maybe kind of cool way to teach my kids. My observation of most homeschooled kids was that they were pretty normal and really smart. Even though there was this sort of narrative that homeschoolers were weird, I never actually observed this to be true.
For myself, I navigated the school system as a child with ease. I had the privilege of going to a private school that was comfortable and safe. I knew how to think the academic way and answer questions correctly. I kept information in my head for just the right amount of time to get all the answers right. But when real life hit, I was totally lost. There was no longer a right answer or a formula that I understood easily. I had to know answers to things that I had learned but didn’t keep in my brain because it didn’t feel like it would ever be relevant. I say all this because I was the perfect student for a traditional school setting but don’t feel like it actually prepared me to be an adult. And isn’t that the point of schooling?
After doing some research on how children learn and more about homeschooling, I am finding that children actually want to learn and follow their interest and explore when left to their own volition. I have seen in this short window of time being with them day in and day out, that this is very true of my children. They count and add in everyday life situations. They ask questions and wonder at the world. We look information up and then process it together. I’m learning alongside my children and I get to be energized by their newness to the world.
Homeschooling offers the opportunity to learn using the world around you, and making abstract concepts immediately relevant and useful. It means seeing how fractions work with baking and how multiplication works with Lego. I’m not sure how it will all work out if I’m being honest. How will I help my kids learn while they follow the things that light them up and excite them? How will I keep the enthusiasm going? I’m truly looking forward to taking it a day at a time to see.
Additionally, we have been exploring the values of slowing down and being in nature and finding that we want to continue encouraging these in our family dynamic. We want to teach our children household responsibilities and everyday life skills. This past school year, rushing around trying to get out the door in the mornings to get people to school was exhausting. There was no time to encourage making beds or preparing breakfast independently. Then, coming off the school bus, my Kindergartener was too tired to explore outside and just wanted to chill in front of the television. This significantly clashes with how I want our family to function and flow.
I go into this opportunity with the knowledge that it will, at times, be a challenge. This time with my children at home has not been all magical learning moments. They push my buttons beyond my limit and they have times where they fight with kicks and punches. But I have hope that being able to tailor their education to what is right for them is going to be a privilege beyond words. I am doing this because I believe it is what’s best for them this coming year but we will see what happens. (I have so much more to say so if you’re interested in our journey feel free to come back.)