Lessons from Homeschooling

Many homeschooling moms/dads will tell you that they’ve learned a lot by becoming their child’s primary teacher. Granted, some lessons will be things along the lines of, “I learned that my child is not fully awake by seven a.m.,” or “I learned that my child should NOT drink Mountain Dew during a school day.”

But homeschool parents have all learned things we SHOULD have learned in elementary/middle/high school; things like, “Vikings insulated their houses,” or perhaps some clever math tricks about the nine times table that would’ve opened up a whole new score level on our SATs. Or we’ve discovered books we WISH we could’ve read as children, like Island of the Blue Dolphins.

I’ve learned some things in my eight years of homeschooling my illustrious children, but every time I try to write some kind of article about it, it sounds like I know it all. And believe me, I don’t. But I’ve seen things that work and things that don’t. I’ve seen kids who’ve been homeschooled all the way through high school, and the end result of that schooling. And there is no across-the-board way to classify homeschooled children, just like there’s no across-the-board way to classify public or private school kids. So I won’t attempt to.

First of all, you’re either supposed to homeschool or you’re not. Don’t try to do it or feel guilted into it if you have a strong HS community and you’re not part of it. But don’t say I don’t have the patience to homeschool. It’s a total cop-out, and I’ve seen no less than three moms who’ve said that, but eventually homeschooled and LOVED it. Will you need distance from your kids? Sure. But that’s what grandparents, friends and activities are for!

Don’t worry about socialization–most of the homeschooled kids I know are as involved in (if not MORE involved in) activities than others, because they have more hours in the day to do sports, drama, groups, etc. But watch out for becoming OVER-involved and neglecting the actual schoolwork.

My view was always this: I’m preparing my kids for college. And, as we do this, we have to maintain balance. We have to push, but not so hard that our kids begin to hate us and hate reading/writing, whatever. We know their strengths and weaknesses (just like any parent), and we can work on those weaknesses and bolster those strengths, all the while aiming for the big picture of college/career.

Support is key. If you have questions, go online or find some HS friends and ASK them. Chances are, they’ve tried that curriculum, struggled with those lonely days, and can recommend resources for you.

Classical, traditional, or unschooling? These are the primary homeschool curriculum choices. I love the classical approach (Susan Wise Bauer), because it makes sense to me. You need the tools, the memorized facts, before you can put them together in meaningful ways. And I love how the classical curricula incorporate CLASSIC books and languages. Do I stick to that? No. I modify what I teach based on the child.

The key is to know for sure what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and stand by it unapologetically, until you can’t anymore. No one has ever given me any substantial grief over my choice to homeschool. I think they can read it on my face: I know this is right for my kids. But one of my children is in Christian school now. It was the right choice. And I’ll stand by that, till things change!

Let’s quit fighting about these things and recognize all the teachers who are using their time and energy to encourage learning in kids–homeschool, private or public school. Quit slamming people because you don’t understand the choices they made. But be steadfast and determined in your own choices for your kids.

***What about you? Do you homeschool? Would you? What about those teachers you’ve never forgotten–what did they do right?***

10 thoughts on “Lessons from Homeschooling

  1. I totally agree that everyone should make their own decision without looking down on other people's decisions. We made a very deliberate decision to put our kids in public school. My husband is a public school teacher and we want to show support for our local schools. Added to that, I don't think teaching is one of my gifts, so the idea of teaching my children at home gives me the shivers. I honestly don't think they'd learn a thing and I'd be frustrated. But I respect people who home school their kids very much! You go, girl! 🙂

  2. For my eighth grade year, I was in a home school-charter school program. Loved it. It prepared me more for college than public HS because I had to discipline myself to study and do things in a comfortable home environment when there was an obvious temptation to take it easy. Several of my charter school classmates stayed in this program and switched to the public school for their senior year. Not one of them had any problems adjusting from a "sheltered" life or keeping up with the curriculum.

  3. I've been a public school teacher for 23 years, and my students attend school in the district where I teach. It has been a mostly good experience, although not always.I've seen the winds of change, and they're not always blowing from a fragrant direction. For the last dozen years, I feel as if public school teachers have been trapped into teaching LESS and LESS. A broad and rich curriculum has been narrowed down to a pinpoint: one standardized test.

  4. This past year my sister took her HS and Middle School kids out of the public school system and starting homeschooling. She was really nervous at first, unsure if she could do it or if the kids would like it. Turns out if is a great fit! My baby is too little still, but I am praying about homeschooling when the times comes. Keep the homeschooling posts coming, I need them!

  5. I don't know too much about homeschooling – but I admire those parents who make that decision. I've always wondered about home-schooled kids with regards to their social adjustment/development and inter-action with peers – but judging from your comment above, in your situation, that seems to be okay.I think that lots of people tend to be close-minded with regards to home-schooling. Humans tend to resist change and we all know that fear of the unknown can be a powerful thing… Everything comes with pros & cons – including public schooling…

  6. I love the comments on this! I think we all have to have a balanced view of things–what's right for our kids might not be right for someone else's. Each situation, home, public or private school, does indeed have pros and cons, so you have to weigh those and make peace in your own mind that what you're doing is right! Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  7. Ok, I have to comment on an old post because life made me miss this before!I'm homeschooling, though my oldest is only in kindergarten now. But both my husband and I were homeschooled, and we love the way of life. And I love your point about "not having the patience"–it's so true! Homeschooling always looks intimidating, but I've never met a parent who REALLY wanted to do it who failed.

  8. I love homeshooling my 3 kids! But every year we let them decide whether or not they want to go to public school or not. For two years they decided to go back, but they felt they weren't learning much and now they are enjoying it back home again.

  9. Heather, please keep these homeschooling posts coming! I am learning so much. What questions to ask, what things to think about, and most importantly to know WHY I'd be HSing.Thanks so much for all of your help during my decision making process!

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