I Could Never Homeschool! And Other Things I Used to Say About Homeschooling
I could never homeschool! Home alone with my kids ALL DAY? Not going to happen. I'd go insane! Homeschoolers are a different breed. Only extremely religious families homeschool. I'm not qualified to homeschool. I need those free hours while they are in school to get everything done! Homeschoolers are crazy.
Yep. I used to say all of those things. Homeschooling was such a foreign concept to me and I never in a million years thought it would be an approach we would take with our kids. And I had never even heard of unschooling.
My Two Biggest Homeschool Blocks
1. Home with the kids ALL DAY? Never!
You guys. This has been the most amazing mindshift change I've ever taken. I've been so used to trying to get away and get a break from these rugrats that I'd never opened up my mind to another approach. Those hours of 'freedom' while they were in school were a gift on most days. Hello, DREAM SCENARIO ;)
But now, things are so much easier and quieter and I'm actually enjoying being with them all day. I know it sounds nuts, but it's true!
2. Homeschoolers are super religious
I used to think that most homeschoolers were teaching their children because of their strong faith. I thought they didn't want public school teachers and students polluting their minds or teaching them about evolution and science-based theories. While this may be true in some cases, there are many, many reasons people choose to homeschool.
And even if that is their reason--why do I care? I think it's good to expose kids to all different points of view, but if that's their approach, who am I to say what's right?
I was brought up in the public schools and then I went to a state college in Virginia (George Mason University REPRESENT). That's just how we did it in my family. College was non-negotiable. I didn't even consider not going to college. You have to go to college to get a job, right? College wasn't a great fit for me, but that's a whole other blog post LOL
I did what I had to do and got my Bachelor's of Arts degree and then found a job in marketing without a clue about what I was doing. And I was miserable. But I plugged away and advanced my career and moved up and on to more jobs I didn't know how to do and didn't really enjoy. Then I had kids and became a stay at home mother. A job I felt perfectly suited for :)
In some ways I wish that both of my kids had been comfortable and had excelled in a public school setting. I've been known to punt in my life and sending them off to have other grownups educate them is easier in many ways. The stress and emotional upheaval that one of our kids in particular endured was brutal and I hate that he had to deal with any of that at such a young age.
On the other hand, I'm grateful. He grew from the experience and if we hadn't had those dark days (and nights), I never would've started down this unschooling journey. And I truly think that unschooling/homeschooling is the best thing we have done for our kids, hands down. The opportunities it will provide them (and us as a family) are endless:
1. Freedom to travel
This is a big one! We've already taken two trips out of state in 2018 and there are more to come. We have some local day trips in the works and we've been going to the aquarium and museums around Denver. The kids are getting in on the planning and gaining valuable life skills.
2. Field trips related to their interests (and to introduce them to new and potential interests)
Colorado has a lot to offer! Dinosaur fossils, gold digging, local and corporate beer breweries, gorgeous scenery/mountains, etc. We have only scratched the surface on this front. This is one that the entire family will bond over because it's new to ALL of us.
3. Slow parenting
This is a biggy! I'm so glad so glad the hussle and bussle of school mornings is behind us. Our stress level has plummeted and the amount of fussing at the kids has gone down so much. Mornings were hell around here and the kids were exhausted just getting out the door! We walk a little slower. We do a little less. Now, we talk and plan and play slower. It's the little things in life that shouldn't be missed. And slow parenting makes that easier.
4. More time to dive deep into subjects that they are curious about
You want to know more about diamonds and local rocks and gems? Let's head to the library. Or the museum. Or do some internet research. You want to learn to sew? Let's check out some online classes and youtube and research local in-person classes. Having the time and head space to really dig deep into what our kids are curious about is a gift.
Kate has already discovered that knitting isn't for her, but sewing is fun! Townes loves chess and being able to compete in something. And being over scheduled makes him stressed.
5. Time for play--free play, board games, video games, outdoor play
Even now I wish we made more time for play. It's the best way that our kids learn (that goes for most kids!). It's fun to watch the wheels turning as they try new strategies, push their math skills, and stretch their reading and comprehension. Plus, there is more time for us to bond and connect. Read more about the top board games for learning math in this post!
6. More time for nature and exploring
Taking long and lazy walks with no agenda is my favorite thing to do with the kids. And it's funny, when I was a kid, taking walks after dinner with my parents was a favorite thing for me, too. The way they find treasures in the dirt and hypothesize on why something grew this way, and why something turned a different color is a gift to watch.
7. Learning on their schedule, not a pre-determined time table set by the government
This is a really big deal for us. I know I sound very fringe when I write this, but it's definitely something to think about. I challenge anyone to prove to me that a list of things a child should know before grade 12 is accurate or proves out to prepare them for college and/or a job straight from school. You could argue that the subject matter is important, but are they really learning it, or are they forgetting it after they finish the test? For me? I forgot it after I memorized it for the test.
No child is the same and while our society has certain levels of expectation (reading, math, social skills), there are many ways to raise and educate a child so that they become functioning and successful members of society! And they learn the reading, math and social skills along the way.
Now I know...like truly know that this is the right path for BOTH kids.
I was talking with someone recently who nodded her head as if to say, "that makes total sense" when I told them we are homeschooling Townes. "But what about Kate? Why did you decide to pull her?"
I want to be clear--Kate was doing fine in her public school. We live in an incredible school district and while she was stressed from the homework, early mornings, and social situations, she was doing okay. But we want better than 'okay' for her. I was worried how she would handle the drama of middle school and the 4,000 student high school further down the road. Add in social pressure and internet safety--it feels like too much for even a grown up to handle.
And Joe and I both truly believe that homeschooling and unschooling her will set her up for a life of opportunities and experiences that she would never have if she were sitting behind a desk filling out more worksheets. (Read more about why we decided to homeschool here.)
We think that all kids could benefit from this approach to education. When we stumbled across unschooling, Joe kept saying, "I can't believe I didn't think of this before!" I'm not sure that unschooling/homeschooling everyone is realistic in our society right now. And some kids would be worse off--public school is their life saver and they'll have a better life because of it.
Traditional Homeschool Still Scares Me
Traditional homeschooling is still daunting to me. Curriculum, worksheets, and semester project planning? Nope. I would be a pile of stress balls if I had to formally 'school' the kids.
Unschooling is the most natural way to interact and 'educate' my kids. We are really lifeschooling them. And figuring out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Along with that, we are going to exploit those strengths and weave them in with what interests them---not what the government says they should learn.
I am a product of public schools and the lack of knowledge that I possess is comical. Beyond that, I had no clue what my strengths and weaknesses were as a high school graduate. Do you know how many times I listed 'very detail oriented' as a strength on a resume? Too many times to count. I am the furthest thing from detail oriented you will ever find. I'm horrible with details. And yet, I didn't know that.
Out of college I was quickly managing people, big projects with long timelines, and detailed processes and I was completely overwhelmed. I thought I was just not smart or didn't understand the position. If I had known more about my strengths and weaknesses, I could have delegated what I wasn't good at and focused on the things I was good at.
Added Bonus to Unschooling
I'm learning so much WITH my kids as they ask questions and we dig deeper into subjects that come up in our week. They ask a question and we find the answer...together. It sticks with all of us better since we sought out the answer and we were able to satisfy that curiosity.
If you are considering homeschooling your kids or unschooling your kids, OR if you think we're totally nuts to even consider this, I hope this post has shed some light and changed the way you think about it.
Maybe public school works for your family. That's great! I am not trying to convince you otherwise. I want to provide an accurate representation of what we're doing and why we think it works for us. And, why I have changed my perspective on what I thought homeschooling looked like before.
Obviously, like anything in life, there extreme examples of homeschoolers. In growing our 'tribe', I initially struggled to find a non-religious based group to get to know. But I kept introducing myself to other parents and researched online and I've started to find some like-minded people who actually live near me. Finding your tribe is also a topic for another day!
Questions? Leave them in the comments, or shoot me an email. I'm always happy to talk about this stuff!