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?***