I’m in the throes of my second year of homeschooling our two compulsory aged sons and wild non-compulsory preschooler. When my husband and I first decided to homeschool we were asked a lot of questions. How are you going to manage? Are you qualified? What about socialization? These well meaning queries caused a lot of harm to my first month as a homeschooler as doubt crept in. Now, however, I am able to confidently clear up many misconceptions about homeschooling and am happy to share some of the truths I’ve learned.
1: Homeschooling is not always fun and whimsy.
After my dreadful first month of homeschooling, things pulled itself together and I rode a wave of euphoria and excitement for months until we unexpectedly reached the shore of Stuck in a Rut. I changed lesson plans, scheduled field trips, even brought in the help of a different teacher (my mother in law). Nothing seemed to help and eventually it started to feel like we were not getting anything done. I crowd sourced, and learned this was a common occurrence! More so, there will be times where you doubt your abilities, or an entire week goes awry. This is all very normal, and you will rebound from it.
Every once in a while the kids get an extended weekend just for this purpose, we all regroup, I change some of the lesson plans, we head back refreshed.
2: It looks different for everyone.
Everyone’s homeschool process varies. Some families school only at nighttime, others adhere to a rigid daytime schedule. Some spaces are chock full of file cabinets and shelves, others are literally the coffee table in a living room.
We homeschool in the dining room. My very important paperwork is backed up on the computer and in expanding folders in case I ever need to present them, but everything else? Everywhereish. Do what works for the space you have. Our days are partially scheduled, but we’re always ready to fly by the seat of our pants if one lesson segues into something else entirely. It’s comfortable for us as a large family that’s full of different personalities. Everything is an adventure here, and homeschooling is no exception! Comparing your way to another could lead to disaster.
3: Homeschooling is social.
Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers do Between co-ops, community classes, volunteer opportunities, story time at the library and so many other events, homeschoolers are actually quite social. Socialization was a huge concern for my husband when we originally considered pulling our sons out of school, and it was the easiest quelled.
Everything turns into a social event for my very talkative, dynamic bunch. They’re able to interact with children and adults in various age groups and from all walks of life, they remember their manners and know how to differentiate between appropriate conversation and inappropriate. We’re often impressed by how remarkably well adjusted they are in social situations.
4: You don’t have to be a member of Mensa to teach your children what they need to know.
I lived in Hawaii for a number of years, and when I moved back to New York in my Junior year of high school discovered that I lacked much of the formal Social Studies education due to Hawaii’s curriculum. I was able to scrape by the Regents exams, but still left high school without the comprehensive knowledge. It was one of many fears I had when going into homeschool, how would I teach my children the things I didn’t know?
Simple; I’d learn with them! I research anything I may find troublesome, but more often than not, we learn together on the spot. I want my children to understand that people are flawed and imperfect, and that learning never ends. If you have the capacity and desire to learn, you are qualified to teach your children. And if you’re still not confident in a specific area, there are tutors and homeschool co-ops with many knowledgeable comrades willing to assist.
5: You’ll need to learn to carve time out for yourself again.
Homeschooling is a sacrifice of the time that you’re already feeling like you don’t have enough of. Sometimes I spend hours teaching and by the time school is over it’s time for me to make dinner, get kids into the bath, bedtime routines and stories and then shuffled off to bed. The hours can easily take over your entire day, and leave you depleted. Remember that you are an important piece to your family’s puzzle, and finding time for yourself is crucial to maintaining the remaining scraps of sanity you have. It sounds impossible, but I promise it’s not! I am still able to find time for myself and my marriage with, it took some juggling at first but now it’s second nature. Lesson planning in the bubble bath counts! Homeschooling is worth the sacrifice, and you are worth the time you carve out to remind yourself that you’re more than a homeschooling parent alone.
Monique Caraballo is a stay at home mom of one daughter and four sons in upstate New York. A cloth diaper convert, secular homeschooler, and hobbyist photographer among other things, she finds her place is somewhere (way, way) off the beaten path. Her personal blog, Blackhearts and Bliss, serves as an informal chronicle of life as a large blended family, DIY abominations, and the rapidly decaying state of her sanity.