Answers to all these common questions
I know a lot of parents have common homeschool questions and concerns and are struggling with the choice right now: should I homeschool?? I hope these quick and dirty blog posts will help your family in making this personal choice.
If you missed it before, I’m Rocheal. And this is Kellen (12) and William (3.5) and our white lab puppy, Yeti.
I’m a full-time wedding and corporate event photographer based in Atlanta who genuinely shares a passion for helping people. Right now I’m hoping to bless those who are considering homeschool.
Onto your questions:
1. I’m not sure if I want to homeschool, and I’m feeling overwhelmed with others’ opinions. How do I know what my homeschool style is??
Same!!!! Oh my gosh, this was me to a T. Do you consider yourself an over-thinker? Okay, if so- STOP.
Unschool? Homeschool? Religious-based? Structured schedule? Fluid schedule? Ahhhh!!!
First of all, let me commend you for doing the research to even know about these different styles of teaching and learning. But let me break it to you: you’re not going to know what your style is until you start teaching and your kid starts learning.
Here’s what I suggest you do: Do you like vision boards? Mind mapping? Simple lists? If so, as you’re researching these different homeschool methods, jot down what you love about each style. Keep that somewhere you can see it as you start your journey and know that things will slowly fall into place. Homeschooling is kind of like parenting… You won’t ever have it completely figured out and every day you do your best!
TIP: Don’t aim to have your style nailed down until you’re well into your first year. (We’re still tweaking ours!!!) What I found to be MOST helpful while I navigated through this was finding a solid curriculum I had unyielding confidence in for the foundational subjects. That way I could only question myself and my style, rather than if my kid was on track with learning.
2. What should I expect for my first year?
Hmm.. How do I put this?? You first child isn’t exactly a guinea pig, buuuut… Let’s be real: your first time doing ANYthing is a learning experience! Give yourself (and your child) grace during the first year.
TIP: If I could do our first year over again here’s what I would change:
- Don’t conquer the world: Recognize that I don’t have to nail every single standard in every single content area. In fact, right now I should focus on
- improving my relationship with my child, exposing him to as many positive experiences as possible (both within our own home and outside in the community)
- finding fun and challenging games to play together (anything that challenges your child and opens back up his natural curiosity because, like it or not, that was snuffed in the public education system.)
- choosing a solid curriculum for ELA and Math, then
- closing learning gaps
- The schedule will come later. It’s okay. Relax.
(I’ll write more about how we structure our days now in another post.)
3. I’ve heard my friends say, ‘Oh no. We would kill each other!’… How do you spend all day with your child? How is your relationship affected?
Ever have an argument over homework with your child? Yeah, me too. DREAD homework with your kid? Yeah, I did too.
Guess what: YOU’RE the boss when you homeschool. You’re the parent: the one who has FULL control over literally everything in your home. Sit in that for a moment and breathe in all the confidence that comes with that. (Seriously!!)
No more wondering if your kid is really struggling because the teacher didn’t explain it well or if they were goofing off and not paying attention… You’re the boss. You have confidence everything is going as planned because you’re the planner.
When Kellen was in public school, he was gone for about 8 hours a day. (8!) And then he would come home, do his homework, and then go outside for another few hours and play. I hardly saw him. And I wondered how in the world we’d go from all the breaks from each other in the world to NO breaks at all. (Or so I thought)
Here’s the genius in this: You’re the boss!! Have I mentioned that?? Drop all the expectations right now for learning and visualize what you want the relationship with your kid to look like. Ask your kid to grade your current relationship (want some rawness? Kellen graded ours at a THREE. A 3! omg I was… I have no words)
Focus first on lightening your heart, smiling before you get out of bed in the morning, and improving your relationship with your child.
After you get that on a good path, THEN it’s time to think about structuring your homeschool. You wouldn’t learn from your boss if you didn’t trust him and thought all he cared about was his own company’s success. You’d be eager to learn from your boss if you trusted him wholly and knew in the deepest of your soul that he cared about YOUR success.
Meditate on that. Your relationship with your kid is important.
4. How do you handle socialization?
3 months ago this would have been easy to answer. COVID has thrown us a curveball. Here’s what we used to do:
- Field trips: I aimed for a curriculum-based/learning-based field trip once per month and a general field trip/life experience trip once per week. We didn’t always stick to this schedule, but it was a great framework. (Here’s how we find and plan field trips) Susan Bowman is the owner of this group and she does all this for FREE. She’s a GOD SEND. Go in there and be kind. Look around and try to answer your own questions before you ask. I don’t know why this lady doesn’t pay herself, but please respect her time.)
- Sports: Kellen did various things, but he was regularly registered on an organized soccer team. (We also go season passes for trampoline parks and we’d plan a homeschool day up there to let the kids play and challenge themselves physically.)
- Interviews: We would find people in the community and ask if they would be willing for Kellen to interview them. (He’s interviews people from various careers! The socialization impact with that has been huge)
- Being intentional with our time: When I caught us in the house for more than a week or two, I’d stop and plan field trips to break it up and get us out of our rut!
What are YOU doing right now for socialization? Right now we’re winging it. Kellen has Zoom calls with friends, has done a book club with a group of kids, plays with his neighborhood friends, and basically just hangs with us. I’m very eager for this pandemic to just go away… 🙁
I’m about to do some research and start planning field trips again, as Susan has begun posting them recently.
5. Do you use a certain program or homeschool affiliation?
We do use a specific curriculum for our core subjects. Math and ELA are taught solely from these curriculums, while history is expanded upon based on Kellen’s interest and what I’m able to find.
- Math (100% incredible and amazing. My ONLY complaint is that their online program doesn’t allow me to assign assignments. Rather, I set parameters around where Kellen can and cannot work, and he goes at his own pace. Would be better if I could have him do assignments and they grade for me. But whatever. The curriculum rocks my socks.)
- ELA (Cheesy and kind of boring, but incredibly comprehensive and really focuses on positive thinking, which Kellen needs. He agrees it’s the best choice for him despite the cheesiness. I love that it covers art, too! We’ll continue using this.)
- History Pretty comprehensive so far, but we’re finding it tedious. I’m not 100% married to this curriculum, but it’s working for us right now.
- Science: Before COVID Kellen was attending a local Co-op. We don’t have a plan for science right now for 2020-2021, but we’ve toyed with Supercharged Science and Schoolhouse Teachers.
Sooooo- to answer the question, yes and no. Our organized program would be Discover Science Center (linked above), and other than that we just do our own thing using curriculum we love and trust.
That being said: William’s homeschool is Montessori-based and is COMPLETELY different. In short: it’s about developmentally appropriate learning where the child’s teacher is more of a facilitator and less of an instructor.
If you would like a blog post on how we’re doing school with William, let me know!
I hope this was helpful to you!! Please stay in touch with me– comment here with your questions so I can help answer or shoot me a message on IG or Facebook!