A lot more parents are thinking of homeschooling during the public school closures. Here's the inside scoop about homeschooling from a mom who has taught her children at home for ten years. I share what a typical homeschool day is like and the pros and cons of homeschooling. This will help you understand if homeschooling is a good option for your family.
Today, my good friend summed homeschooling up in one easy statement:
Homeschooling is hard, and it's very rewarding.
and I agree with her completely.
The responsibility for educating children belongs to parents. Whether your children are educated at home or in public schools, it's all the same. We make sure they go to school (even at home), get their schoolwork done, and help them when they get stuck. As parents, we pass the importance of learning to the next generations.
Well, I've done both public and homeschool. I taught my children at home for ten years. Last year they went to public school for the first time. Both are great options with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. I'll show you on a practical level the inside scoop on homeschooling.
The COVID-19 school closures have sent kids home. Now, families are public homeschooling, so many parents are considering homeschooling on their own. They ask themselves:
Can I homeschool?
Yes, you can. And all the options available for home education make it possible to create an outstanding program for your children. All it takes is some basic planning. I've been homeschooling my children for the past ten years. And with a smile, I say it's one of the best things I've ever done in my life.
Homeschool parents are trained. We have met the education standards of our country. Every parent is able to direct the education of their children up to the level of their own completion. Majority of parents actually have higher education at college level and some advanced degrees. I have been impressed many times by the backgrounds of many homeschooling parents - mathematicians, doctors, attorneys, musicians, biologists, linguists, teachers... These parents want to gift their children with an exceptional education and are very successful.
Let's take a closer look at what a typical homeschool day is like , so you can make a decision that makes sense for your family. I wish I knew all of this before I started.
What Is Homeschooling Like?
No two homeschools are exactly alike. The biggest advantage of homeschooling is customization. There are many styles of homeschooling, an abundance of learning materials, and online and community based groups. Each child can have their own plan. For families with many children, even some of the subjects can be learned together. All it takes is a little research and planning to find what best fits your children and family.
Sometimes, all the options are too overwhelming. It's really easy to simplify the planning stage, but that's for later.
On a practical level, I'll show you what homeschooling looks like on an ordinary day.
A Typical Homeschool Day
The school day starts the night before. Everyone has their own bedtime traditions. I did my best to make sure the kids got plenty of sleep and I got some time to relax. We did our bedtime routine at eight o'clock followed by lights out at nine o'clock. The more sleep everyone got, the better the next school day would be.
Usually, I woke up early to do some self-care - walking around the yard, reading the Bible, enjoying a cup of Columbian hot brew. It's important to take care of the teacher first, so the teacher can take good care of the students. I served breakfast around 8 and we all ate together. Afterwards, everyone had personal hygiene and chores to complete. Even the toddler helped clear the table because she wanted to be a big girl. The older children were great examples of responsibility.
Next, the schoolwork began. Everyone had their own schedule, including me. I worked individually with each child on a block schedule. I always had the preschooler join us at the table to color while I gave reading lessons to her older brother. That made her lessons really quick later on. I chose a curriculum with short daily reading and math lessons. The great thing is that once the student is a good reader, they work independently for the most part.
Everyone was busy working on their assignment. I did lessons on the kitchen table. My eldest prefered doing his work sitting on the couch. My daughter did hers in the girls room at a desk. Some liked background noise and others prefered absolute silence. We did memory work and read alouds in the living room together.
It was an ever changing dynamic. As they grew, studied different subjects, their needs changed. And home was the perfect place to meet all their needs.
Again, we all ate together. Some had lunch preparation responsibilities. Everyone helped clean up. Afterwards, we had our quiet read aloud time. We took turns reading out loud while they did a quiet activity. It was a privilege to get all your school work done before lunchtime. That meant your afternoons would be free for other activities.
They put their completed reading and math lessons into a basket on my desk. I corrected their work with the key and returned it to them. They had to correct their errors by the next day. Again, no errors meant no extra school work in the afternoon.
Once everyone was done, we were free to run errands, to go have fun at the park, to visit some friends, or join in an event.
Weekly School Groups
One day a week, we did a cooperative homeschooling group, Classical Conversations. We learned about math, grammar, latin, history and science facts. There were weekly science experiments, presentations, and art projects. Upper elementary students did writing and research. For a few years, I tutored a class of children. It was great to learn together in a community.
My kids favorite part was the free play on the field and in the gym after class.
Sometimes an ordinary school day was a fieldtrip. We went to Gene Autry Museum, California Science Center, San Fernando Mission, Natural History Museum, the Griffith Observatory, Getty Art Museum, Leo Carrillo campground, the Los Angeles Zoo, Legoland, Ronald Reagan Library, Will Rogers State Historic Park... sometimes as a group, sometimes as a family. They learned a lot from each of these places and had a good time out too.
Every Homeschool is Different
I've met a lot of homeschooling families over the years. I'm going to give you a sample of all the flavors. There are different methods like: unschoolers, unit study, classical, charlotte mason, montessori and ecclectic. Some do their work year round, at night, on weekends, and graduate early. Others use tutors, do classes online or are even a part of a charter school and have in-person classes. There are all kinds of ways to educate children at home.
Every year I asked myself this practical question:
Should I put my kids in public school?
I weighed the advangages and disadvantages of homeschooling to make my decision. This is what I considered to make my choice:
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
I appreciate the importance of learning in both public schools and homeschools. The dedication of the teachers is impressive at public schools and home. Both serve a very important purpose in our society. And both are successful at what they do, even though they have different methods.
Benefits of Homeschooling
- No daily drop off and pick up at school
- Schedule is flexible
- A lot of curriculum options
- Students had choice of interest in studies
- The variety of homeschooling styles
- Reading and math program at students level
- Work can get done quickly
- Family-style learning
- Can meet with cooperative groups
- Opportunities to focus on child's individual needs
- Child works at their pace
- Time and memories with family
- Parents know their child's academic abilities in depth
- Parent learns alongside children
- Opportunities to socialize with all age groups
My family enjoyed these benefits of homeschooling for years. Being on one schedule in one place simplified our lives. We enjoyed a lot of time together and worked together as a group. I knew exactly the academic strengths and weaknesses of each of my children. And I was able to tailor their program to best serve their needs.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
- No paycheck for the homeschool teacher
- Cost of curriculum and materials
- Home can get messy
- Some subjects may need outside help
- Need to correct the schoolwork daily
- School materials and work space
- Choice of curriculum may be difficult
- Challenge to find a solution for a struggling student
- Potential conflict between parents and siblings
- Takes time to research, plan and schedule the school year
- Keep records for each student
- Requires full time supervision of parent, unless in an outside program
- Limited to peer socialization
- Parent burnout and exhaustion
With more flexibility and freedom comes more responsibility for the parents and students. I sacrificed my days and energy to work with my kids. And I'm glad I did, because it's possible to minimize the cost of all these disadvantages.
Plus, as a homeschooler your'e not alone. There are a lot of support groups and resources available to homeschooling families. Some homeschooling parents work from home and use charter school funds to cover school expenses. As you move forward, you'll also find other homeschooling families. It's a group effort.
You're asking yourself:
Should I homeschool?
If I could return to homeschooling, I would. But my current situation doesn't allow me to. Perhaps you now have the time and place to educate at home. Then, go for it. Afterwards you'll too say, that was hard, but worth every sacrifice.
What I've Learned From Homeschooling My Children
There are a lot of myths out there about homeschooling. My guess is that many of these myths are assumptions from the outside. But this is my perspective from the inside:
- Most homeschoolers are very social
- Learning is very important to homeschool parents
- Parents are qualified to teach their children
- I got a really good second education teaching my children
With the COVID-19 school closures, all parents have to choose whether to continue virtual public school or to start homeschooling. I want you to know many have gone before you and been very successful. It's up to you to decide what's best for your children and your family as a whole.
If you decide that homeschooling fits, you'll need to meet a few basic legal requirements for your state. They are straight-forward and pretty easy to get done.
If you're in another state, check out HSLDA for your state's homeschool requirements.
P.S. As a homeschooling mother I loved easy and fast. I never had any time to waste. Do you want to just focus on learning Spanish on your own at home? Make a Spanish study plan and use Spanish in your daily life with your family.