I recently encountered a nice, little family at the community pool. Despite our efforts to social distance, the cute girl had walked up to my daughters asking, “would you guys like to play with me?”
Despite living in a COVID hotspot, and regardless of the growing number of cases I saw at the hospital bedside, I felt a peace about interacting with this family. My eldest had looked at me questioningly, and I had nodded my approval.
I had gotten in the water to talk with the mother, even though I was digging my latest novel a lot, led by the Holy Spirit to talk with her. We ended up having a wonderful conversation about her desire to homeschool this year, and she gushed at how I had calmed her anxieties on the issue. Realizing that many moms out there now face the same dilemma, I thought I would share with you what I had with her. It’s really the biggest thing you need to know to homeschool effectively.
No, it’s not which curriculum to use, although we did discuss that. In all honesty, there are so many to choose from, and that fact alone only feeds the anxiety. See, that’s the biggest hurdle you will likely face in homeschooling is the anxiety of doing it well. As women, especially, we have a desire to give our children the best we absolutely can. So, when faced with teaching your children, most women will not feel qualified for the task.
I can remember teaching my first child to read. She just wasn’t catching on. I was certain it had little to do with her and everything to do with me. She didn’t listen to me. I expected too much. I wasn’t a teacher; I was a nurse. Many days ended with me feeling I had failed miserably. My heart wanted to teach her at home, but I wasn’t sure if I was giving her exactly what she needed the most.
After a few years, a few children, trial and error, and especially the voice of God, I finally understood that I was making it way harder than it needed to be. The fact was, my eldest reads like a champ now. One day a flip switched and she just knew how. I had to understand that every child learns differently, and it’s ok to learn right along with them. I mean, God had certainly taught me a lot about myself and parenting as a homeschooling mom.
I know the world is very uncertain right now. I know a lot of parents will question if the public school classroom is where your child/children need to be. Sadly, I cannot answer this question for you. It is a decision you must come to. But what I don’t want is for you to desire homeschooling yet allow fear to keep you from it. The thing is, if you can raise a child, you can homeschool a child. If you can love a child, you can homeschool a child. That’s really all it takes.
Don’t be negatively impacted by the forced homeschooling you experienced in April. Homeschooling of your own design is nothing like that. Homeschooling is mostly just parenting, with some concrete lessons thrown in the mix. Think of when your inquisitive child asks a question, you search for the answer together, and then you both know. Homeschooling is kinda like that. If you can follow written directions, you can homeschool. Even if reading directions isn’t your thing, you’ll still do fine. My husband homeschools without a hitch. Maybe you’ll catch the joke. Wink, wink.
The thing is, grades are not the most important thing in this world. Education, while important, isn’t even the biggest thing you should desire for your child in this world. To raise wonderful human beings you need a mix of love and time. The rest comes together after that.
Never be afraid to homeschool or feel like you don’t have what it takes. I learned that none of us have what it takes if we try to teach our children like we assume we should. Homeschooling isn’t public schooling, and it will never look like it either. Imagine a 2-4 hour day instead of 8. Imagine taking a day off last minute if that’s what the student needs, and not having to worry about making work up to catch some invisible finish line. Imagine learning being fun. Imagine the classroom outside, or in pajamas. Imagine learning on a track that is tailored to your child’s interest, not just to ensure a certain test score. Imagine spending quality time with your child, rather than the majority of your time apart. Think about zero homework and only doing reading or science fair projects if the fancy strikes you.
You can homeschool. That’s mainly what I want you to know. Don’t not do it because you worry you can’t. Depending on the pace of your child, you can complete the needed work 3-4 days a week, in just a few hours. Homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to keep public school hours.
If your worry is finances, such as being home from work to teach, realize that it’s always easier than our worst fears. Whether you make the decision to downsize, share the responsibility with the other parent (if that’s an option), or tailor the school day around your work schedule, I would encourage you that homeschooling is doable. I once had a friend who taught her child every evening after a full workday, and while that may not be the ideal option for you, it’s just to point out that there’s always a way.
So, in conclusion, what’s the thing you need to know if you’re thinking of homeschooling? It’s that you can. You can do it. I told my new friend by the pool, kids are so resilient and flexible. They catch on quickly, they adapt, they overcome. It’s the limits we place on ourselves as parents that make it a problem.