We officially began our homeschooling journey in the fall of 2007 as a trial. My daughter’s birthday fell after the cut-off for enrollment in our state and yet her friends were all starting kindergarten. “I want to go, too!” she exclaimed.
I thereby spent that first year doing a lot of research as I began to pull together unit studies and hands-on projects. I followed my heart and did my best to meet her needs and interests as we continued along the road less traveled.
At the time, I didn’t know ANYONE who was homeschooling. My friends all thought I was nuts. At book club one evening, the women cornered me and in a snarky voice inquired, “So you’re still homeschooloing, Eva? How’s that working out for you?”
Over the years I have learned a lot. We have tried on different homeschooling styles and have adapted different approaches to learning to best suit our life goals. Today, I share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly truth about homeschooling.
Masters of Color, Music, & Words
Charlotte Mason describes living books as the stories that touch our mind and heart. Timeless stories of people, places, and events that come alive as we read. As homeschooling parents we have the incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves in these worlds and spend our days alongside our children.
Relatedly, we can surround ourselves with wonderful art and music. We can dive deep into a study of Beethoven or Georgia O’Keefe. We can read and watch in wonder as their messages slowly influence each of us and mold our hearts and minds.
Freedom & Flexibility
Homeschooling also provides us the freedom to make our own choices in ALL aspects of our children’s education. We are in control. If the kids don’t like the curriculum, I can change it. If they are lonely, I can organize activities. If they are missing something vitally important in their education, I can remedy the situation and help them find a way to learn WHATEVER they need to know. We get to make this adventure into anything and everything we want it to be.
We have the flexibility to pursue our interests in depth. In our home, fluency in a foreign language is very important. We thereby spend hours each week studying Mandarin – time that wouldn’t be possible if they attended a brick and mortar school.
Life Long Learning
Our homeschool isn’t based on the traditional style of schooling. It’s based on life learning that happens all day, every day. We seek out learning opportunity in everything we do – as we go about errands and particularly as we travel.
Yet homeschooling isn’t just about my kids and their education. I want to model a love of learning to my kids. I model this through my own studying and reading. I continue to set goals for myself, to work towards learning new skills, and to accomplishing big projects.
In comparison to public schools, where education is free, purchasing curriculum and teaching tools can be very expensive. To counter this, some families choose to partner with a homeschool charter program or umbrella school. Such programs often provide curriculum and materials for you – however, you’ll have to jump through their hoops (meeting regularly with an assigned facilitator, turning in assignments, & standardized testing).
Financially savvy parents seek out used curriculum (book stores, online vendors, other homeschool families). There is also a tremendous amount of curriculum and lesson materials available online. You just need to seek it out – which can be time consuming. To help, I’ve compiled an extensive list of Free Science Curriculum for Middle School.
There are also other costs to keep in mind, like project materials, stationery, books, computer software, and field trips. However, we spend significantly less money on clothing (as we don’t feel the pressure to have the latest fashion trends) and meals (we cook more often together and enjoy our meals as a family). We also travel during the off season when tickets are less expensive.
Networking also plays a huge role in homeschooling and does wonders to reduce the cost. We reach out to adults to mentor the kids in their areas of interest. We collaborate with other homeschool families to share our talents and skills through our homeschool co-ops. We partner with resource specialists to enrich areas of our curriculum – the relationships we’ve developed even allow us to borrow equipment that would be otherwise too costly (just last week we borrowed a soil auger from a local engineering and hydrogeology firm).
Homeschooling isn’t easy, don’t let all the good cloud your impression. The ugly moments, however, will vary with each family – but that is just what they are – moments. Fleeting thoughts of inadequacy.
In my family, we are all very driven. This doesn’t always translate well when it comes to getting lessons completed, however. The ugly truth in our homeschool is that my son and I often butt heads.
He is a hard worker. He’ll occasionally drag his feet when it is time for Mandarin class – particularly if he was engaged in one of his passion projects before class begins. However, once he is underway, he puts forth a 100% effort. He strives to always do his best.
Getting him to do his other lessons (math, writing assignments, etc.) though is like pulling teeth. I try to encourage him to “slay his dragons” early in the morning but he always drags his feet. As the day slowly marches on, I continually remind him of his assignments. “You’ve been watching this man play Beethoven’s 5th on YouTube for quite a while now, Buddy. How about you take a break and do a math lesson with me?”
It is difficult to argue when his retort is, “I AM doing schoolwork, Mom! This helps me learn how to play it myself.” We have tried different strategies over the years and yet we continue to struggle with this.
Even so, I can’t imagine educating my children any other way. Even though I admittedly threaten that I will enroll them in public school on occasion (my ugly days), I know in my heart of hearts that homeschooling has been the best decision we have made.
iHomeschool Network bloggers share more of their loves & dislikes about homeschooling.