We just finished our first year of homeschool. We’ve known for a long time that this was the best option for our son academically (more on that in another post), so I had plenty of time to prepare and, you know, FREAK MYSELF OUT.
There were (and still are) a lot of unknowns. I went to traditional schools my entire life. So did my husband. I had no idea what homeschooling looked like in real life. Well, this year, I found out, and I learned some surprising things along the way.
5 Surprising Things I Learned the First Year of Homeschool
1.Homeschoolers ain’t what they used to be
Ok, I’m just going to say it. I always thought homeschoolers were really weird.
In hindsight, they weren’t really “weird” as much as they were sheltered, naive, and somewhat oblivious. They were always smart, well-educated, well-behaved, and hard working, but when it came to interacting with peers, they just weren’t prepared. They were way too brash or way too quiet, way too eager or way too reserved. They weren’t used to interacting socially with non-homeschooled peers, which made them seem, for lack of a better term, weird.
Their parents were kind of weird, too. Most of them chose to homeschool IN ORDER TO raise sheltered, naive, somewhat oblivious kids. I remember one friend in particular who discovered secular music in her teens, and her parents suggested she listen to the Christian alternative. Then they just out right forbid her from listening to any secular music at all. I’m not talking about gangsta rap, you guys. This was clean, fun, PG (okay, bordering on PG-13) pop music. #calmdown
My recent experiences with homeschoolers have been the complete opposite.
I’ve, surprisingly, met hardly any “weird” homeschoolers. Mostly, they are normal kids who goof off, watch TV, get in trouble, play video games, hang out with their friends, and they just happened to be educated at home. The parents that I have met rarely chose homeschool out of a desire to shield their children from all things secular. They don’t live in a Christian bubble nor do they want their kids to.
Here I thought I was entering a community of weirdos, and come to find out, everyone is really cool, smart, welcoming, and NORMAL. Whoda thunk?
2. Homeschooling ain’t like it used to be, either
Pinterest and Google have changed the game for homeschoolers. The internet has made homeschooling way easier (less weird) and more feasible for a lot of people. There are about a billion homeschool curriculum publishers with high-quality products. You can Pin lesson plans or lapbooks or notebooking pages. You can stream videos or take virtual classes live. There are so many options available with just a point and click it’s ridiculous.
We have chosen something I don’t think even existed when I was a kid: part-time homeschool. Also known as a “university-model” school in some circles, it’s free for us through a local charter school. My son goes to two full days of school in a traditional classroom with a state-certified teacher and 19 same age peers, just like “regular school.”
Then, we do the other 3 days of school at home. It is the best of both worlds for our family. My son gets to build friendships in the classroom and learn the social/classroom skills that he needs. Then, at home, we can go at his pace, and I can tailor his education to his specific needs and learning style. Completely different than how I pictured “homeschooling” to be.
3. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be
I had this assumption that homeschool moms had to be super organized and on top of it all the time, and that they accomplished everything they set out to every day. I’m not like that, so basically, I was destined for failure.
It turns out, you can homeschool your kid and not be any of those things. Just take it one day at a time. Do the assignment for today, and don’t worry about tomorrow. And if you don’t finish everything today, oh well, because guess what? You are the boss! You can blow school off for a week if you want and get back on track later. It’s only as hard or easy as you want it to be. It’s up to you.
4. It’s a lot harder than I ever anticipated
Can I really handle that much time with my kids? Do I have the patience to teach my son? When will I clean my house? How will I balance homemaking and homeschooling? How will I find time for anything else? How do I know if he’s really learning what he needs to learn? How will I keep the twins out of his stuff? What if the whole thing just turns me into an overwhelmed, overstressed, screaming banshee?
All of these things have turned out to be major challenges, making this year harder than I could have ever anticipated.
I can’t always handle all the time together. My patience often wears thin. My house is never as clean as I wish it were. I never have enough time, and I never feel like I’m doing a good enough job. THE TWINS DRIVE ME CRAZY, and I feel like an overwhelmed, overstressed, screaming banshee on the daily.
5. It fits us better than I ever imagined
The twins are natural best friends, a born clique, and this year, Will broke in. Watching their friendships grow, has been a sweet unexpected blessing.
Will is a cuddly homebody, (currently) fiercely attached to me, and thrives on words of affirmation. All of these things make homeschooling a perfect fit for his personality as well as his academic needs (another blog post altogether).
I really enjoy the slow days and the easy schedule. I only have to wake up early and get everyone out the door two days per week. Homeschooling allows me the flexibility to live my life on MY terms, not around the school’s schedule, and that has been a very pleasant surprise.
Truthfully, the most surprising thing I learned this year, is that I really LIKE homeschooling.
I like picking curriculum and learning about education and learning styles (who knew?!). I enjoy teaching my kids and watching them enjoy activities and lessons I found for them (who am I, right now?!). I like encouraging their interests and being their educational guide and mentor. Homeschooling makes me crazy, and I don’t know if I’ll do it forever, but for now, it’s working really well, and that’s really the best any parent can hope for.