I never thought I would homeschool my children. No doubt, I liked many of the concepts of homeschool: The idea of my children being home with me more. Less time in things like carpool lines. More time letting them explore nature and the world around them. But I never thought I was cut out for the role of a homeschool mom.
But last year, things changed dramatically for us with COVID and I found myself in that role quite unexpectedly. I’ve never shared about our homeschool experience in detail until now. If you’ve ever wondered more about homeschool or have been tossing the idea around in your head, I hope this post is insightful and encouraging to you or someone in your circle!
Here are some lessons I learned from our homeschool experience:
It doesn’t have to be forever.
I always thought you were either a school family or a homeschool family but a decision to homeschool one year doesn’t necessarily mean you are always going to do homeschool. Through the years of my girls being in private school, I have known so many families that have pulled one or more of their children out for homeschool.
Here are a few common reasons why families might consider homeschooling for a season:
- If your child is struggling in school and one-on-one time with you at home for a year could boost skills such as reading or math.
- If you’re unhappy with your child’s school’s curriculum, or certain protocols, and want to have more control over their education and day.
- If your family wants the freedom to travel or to accept unique job opportunities. Our family used our homeschool experience to live in Colorado and Florida.
- If your child is being bullied, you might consider pulling them out and homeschooling until a new school can be found.
- If your family just needs to hit the reset button, and step back from a fast-paced and high-pressure culture.
You don’t have to be a teacher to teach your children.
Oh how I appreciate all our school teachers after a year of homeschooling. It is not easy! But thankfully, most homeschool materials and textbooks show you exactly how to teach something. Shurley Grammar is a great example.
I will note that I homeschooled my second and fifth grader. I did not homeschool my eighth grader — she did virtual learning. While it can be done well, I did not feel that I had the capacity last year to teach at an upper level with everything else I had going on (homeschooling two, plus a three year old at home!).
You don’t need to stress about the homeschool materials.
There are so many resources and Instagram pages devoted to this, which can be overwhelming. I chose to stick with a Charlotte Mason method as my girls have always attended a school that utilized many of those principles, so I was already really familiar with the methods. As for materials, a friend of mine puts together homeschool curriculum so I trusted her guidance. We did not use one curriculum company for materials but rather a varying assortment including Saxon Math and Shurley Grammar. You can read more about homeschooling resources here.
My advice on this is to not get too caught up in the materials. Do research but don’t get hung up on it. It doesn’t have to be perfect right away; you can adjust as you go along. For example, after a semester of Latin, I felt my daughter needed more help so I enrolled her in a weekly online class during the second semester. It was so helpful!
You don’t have to do it all on your own.
I mentioned the Latin class above, but see what else you can outsource. I had to be realistic since both my husband and I were working from home with no childcare. So we outsourced a few subjects:
My mother-in-law is a retired former teacher. She incredibly taught my fifth grader Literature and my second grader American History over FaceTime. They also worked on reading aloud with books like The Black Stallion and Stuart Little. (I even ordered two books — one for her and one for my daughter). This was a precious blessing during a hard time. Their relationship with the grandmother deepened because of daily (and rich!) conversations they had.
My 6th grader also worked with a wonderful grammar/writing tutor once a week virtually. So worth it!
Siblings can also help one another. I had older sisters check younger sisters math work which helped their skills as well. I was big on delegating!
Many cities have homeschool groups and co-ops that share responsibility in teaching. We didn’t do these because of COVID, but also because I wanted to really enjoy the freedom of not having to be anywhere. If I was homeschooling a middle-or high-school student, I would definitely consider it.
You have freedom in your day and lessons.
As you see from our Instagram photos last year, my girls spent a lot of time in nature and we tailored our lessons to the season and our location. When we were at the beach, I gathered lots of books about the ocean and sea life. When in the mountains, we read about the frontier and visited old mining villages. I really enjoyed this part of homeschool.
I also loved the flexibility. There were days when we didn’t get to math or another subject. We just adjusted and made up for it the rest of the week.
It gives you more time to pour into your children.
Homeschool gives you more time to pour truth and love into your children. During a normal year, my children are in school all day and come home and have homework and dinner (and some nights an activity) so there is limited time for moral instruction and deep discussion. It happens, but homeschool no doubt gave us more time to talk about important things, read the Bible, read aloud, and have wonderful family conversations. During a tough year, this was even more important.
It keeps them young.
Many fifth graders in our area have cell phones and talk about very teenage things. But homeschooling allowed my fifth grader to stay a child a bit longer. She and her sisters’ imaginations have always been strong but they soared during this time at home. Being at home and taking away technology for the most part protected their innocence a little bit longer. For this I am so grateful!
It is bonding.
COVID + homeschool slowed us down and brought us together. And it brought my children closer together. Yes, there were hard days. And tears. And frustrations on everyone’s part. (A lot of togetherness!) But it is refining, too. Children learn to be patient with one another. They learn to be helpful and responsible.
I enjoyed homeschooling and will look back on that time fondly. I would even consider doing it again! Homeschooling can seem overwhelming but as mothers, and with so many resources and communities out there, we can be well equipped to do it for our children if needed. So if you’re considering homeschool for your family, I hope this encourages you in your journey. But no matter if you’re a homeschool family, your children are in school full-time, or are choosing virtual learning, know that we’re all making the best decisions for our families!