Homeschooling: how I saw it then.
I know what I thought then, because I journaled it all.
I consistently journaled at the same time I began homeschooling. Starbucks was my destination every Wednesday evening where I ordered my pumpkin spice latte with whip and biscotti. I opened my journal and wrote about our days, what I and my four kids did together, who was learning what, and how we were all processing the transition to being together.
The process of journaling helped me record my huge, messy spill of thoughts. It was therapy in itself. Journaling was a practice I began when I started writing, and has kept me sane through my toughest life moments, and has been my cheapest therapist, and it was useful for me to process my homeschool beginnings.
My very first journal entry after I began homeschooling.
- “You get to be with your kids instead of seven hours away, then dinner together, ten minutes quiet time before bed and off to another day, five days a week.”
- “Plus homework in the evenings. Isn’t seven hours in school adequate?”
- “Do we learn through rote memory/memorizing, through test prep, or having subjects chosen for us? Do we engage advanced math in our every day?”
- “Homeschooled kids get to be socialized by adults, not by fellow eight year olds.”
- “Homeschooled kids get to skip the newest fashion trends, vocabulary trends, and excessive shoe purchases, indoor and outdoor.”
- “Kids get hot lunches.”
- “Kids can do their own swim and skating lessons on their own time.”
- “More time for leisure, because kids should play.”
- “More time for extracurricular activities.”
- “Forced to deal with family interpersonal issues, but get to learn with my kids, learn myself, see them uncover interests and develop through passions.”
- “Influence their approach toward life.”
- “I get to skip out on: parental homework, signing stuff, finding forms, organize mandatory volunteer time (like what even is that??)”
- “Learning style accommodation.”
Homeschooling, how I see it now:
- It all goes by quickly. I do get to experience my children in an organic way, watching their interests expand, their skills develop and the whole parenting thing still goes by quickly. Too quickly. But every once in a while, I really would like seven hours away.
- Homework at the end of a busy day sounds unhelpful. Unless, they’re self-motivated. Everyone can keep their academics within ‘normal school hours’ unless they have too many extracurriculars during the day, which is the case for my grade 11 daughter (but she likes it that way.)
- Yes, sometimes we do learn through rote learning and memorization. It is one tool of learning. Certainly shouldn’t be the only one. And learning to test is a tool too. But actually wanting to learn something should be where the bulk of learning should remain.
- We absolutely do use math in our every day. We are less likely to have money mistakenly taken from us at the cashier if we know how to count our own money. Knowing how to calculate percentages in our head makes tipping quicker. Calculating area enables quick calculations for carpeting a room or building a chicken coop. Memorizing times tables makes advanced math a simpler process. Some kids will need advanced math for later schooling; some kids like playing with advanced math. I, myself, shall never have need for a $100 calculator. The word trigonometry still means ‘confusion’ in my thesaurus.
- Kids are better socialized by capable adults, not same-aged peers. Yup, yup and yup. (I am not suggesting children don’t have regular contact with same-aged peers or that they don’t have regular social activities, but socialization that breeds kindness, authenticity, and character traits we hope for our children is led by kind, authentic, invested and capable adults; the more, the merrier).
- When kids are younger, they are less aware of fashion and vocabulary trends, and obviously don’t need indoor and outdoor shoes. As homeschooled kids enter adolescence, they find themselves more invested in independent social scenarios and they most definitely clue into fashion and vocabulary trends. (As to vocabulary trends, I understand that when someone says something is ‘sick’, I think they mean someone feels sick; if someone says they are fierce, I assume they self-describe as unabashedly unkind).
- Homeschooled kids definitely get regular hot lunches (I am not well-versed in packing lunches, but the kids are well-versed in making their own hot lunches, unless they want my lentils and rice, or kale salad, or homemade soup, which they usually don’t).
- Homeschooled kids definitely get a surprising amount of extracurricular activity time. There really is just more time in their days.
- They are accustomed to having breathing room in their days. I rarely hear “I’m bored”. But when I do, I recognize that statement as a jumping off point for learning something new, pursuing something new, or going farther into an established interest. I am not afraid of that statement, nor do I to soothe it.
- Homeschooled kids do get front and center tickets to the homeschooled parents’ marriage, good and bad, and it’s also possible they learn more quickly not to open their parents’ bedroom doors. Haven’t seen research on this one, just my personal experience.
- Every parent gets to influence their child’s direction and internal compass in life. Not just homeschool parents. But we sure do have more moments to influence them. Which can also become moments to enmesh (and in the moment, we don’t realize we’re enmeshing…). We are front and center on our child’s stage, them watching us, us not necessarily knowing what they’re watching.
- I sign up for the ultimate parenting homework. I most definitely skip out on signing stuff, finding forms, organizing mandatory volunteer time, and doing school stuff I don’t want to do. I follow my children’s interests closely, learn about resources that facilitate those interests, learn how to organize academic time that suits their sensibilities, find curriculum or books that I believe to be useful, until it isn’t, because I customize my children’s educations. However, I also organize everything in my homeschool daytimer, maintain schedules, bring them to at least four times the extracurriculars that I might enrol them if they were in school. I think through absolutely every last detail, and then I watch the kiddo, and I rethink again, and adjust again. I definitely do not skip out on parental homework.
- My homeschool children’s learning styles are always accommodated. Learning style accommodation: 100% true. If an education is about educating a specific person in order to develop interests and skills and aptitudes so that person will find a specific, meaningful purpose and contribution in the world, then I am, indeed, help to enable the education of my children.
Despite the rose-coloured blinders being pulled away, I maintain that the homeschool lifestyle has been worth it for me and for my family.
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