As a young mother of a 19, 18, and 5 year old, I have spanned all across the spectrum of educa-tional experiences. From private catholic school, to public school, to a very small fifty kid neigh-borhood school. Someone might look at all the different schools my eldest children went to, and think, why so many, but what I know for sure is that education is not a one size fits all system. I always vowed to make changes as I saw it fit for my kids, and that included pulling them both out of high school at one point to homeschool them.
What I believe, more than anything, is that our children need unbiased, safe, loving support in order to excel in education, and that may mean traditional school for many, but, when my eldest two were not getting that support, I did what I had to do, and I brought them home. My son fin-ished his senior year under my guidance, and support. And I know that we were both privileged, and lucky, to be able to share this time together. It proved to be the best choice we could have ever made.
So, as my five year crept closer to the Pre-K age, it was time to make a decision. Based on her needs, and our lifestyle, we chose to homeschool from the start. So, the adventure has begun, and when I get asked about what we are doing, or how we are doing it, I like to emphasize some key factors in our decision making process, and what it takes to succeed.
Homeschooling takes community, patience, and adaptability. But, above all, it takes belief in your ability to guide your child based on his or her needs. It is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s a beautiful possibility for those that want to be as involved as possible with their children’s education, as well as their day to day experience of the world.
Home based education allows you to set up your curriculum based on what your child’s strengths are, and identify what they need to work on in a more personalized way. This alone is one of the factors we chose for keeping our five year old at home. We wanted her to be able to really dive into what she prefers to learn, as opposed to what the collective is mandated to learn. Individual-izing her learning experience by focusing on her joy, and interests, has proven to be worthwhile, thus far.
Creating a community of other homeschooler’s is also paramount. Making sure your child has the social interaction, and the ability to engage, converse, and enjoy time with friends is im-portant. Having other parents you can bounce ideas off is really helpful for creating a great learn-ing experience. We all need support, and teaching our children from home takes a lot of it. We plan specific days to meet up with other homeschooling families, which helps create a schedule, and makes for some really fun field trips as well.
Creating a special space for learning takes patience, but is a core value of homeschooling. Giving home learners a quiet, unique space to read, write, or figure out problems helps to support their autonomy in learning, and also sets the stage for good studying habits. We have a dedicated white board, as well as a shelf that holds all our materials for learning. Carving out time, and space for desired lessons is key to running a smooth operation. And of course, one of the best parts of home learning is that naps, snacks, and breaks, are all up to us, and we definitely take advantage of that as much as possible. As my daughter get older, we will adjust accordingly. Things will take on a new form as she learns more about herself, so staying fluid, and attentive as parents of home learners is part of this beautiful process.
Interestingly, when this article goes live, the whole of the world will be homeschooling. Granted, this version of school that most are doing from home now, isn’t typical of a true home-schooling experience. This is where our adaptability as parents can really flourish. I know par-ents everywhere are doing their best, and I am immensely proud of us all for nurturing this new version of life.
In the end, homeschooling has provided our family with the freedom to meet our children where they are at individually, and this means more to us than anything. Has it always been easy? Defi-nitely not. But, it’s always been worth it.
Words by Kimberly Zuleger