The kids finished up school last week, although Hallie keeps reminding us that she’s not quite done. 🙂 She’s got two more weeks before she finishes her first high school semester class.
Over the years, I’ve had many friends choose to homeschool their children for one reason or another. (And everyone seemed to have their definitive answers as to why). But I couldn’t understand how in the world they were accomplishing it with kids at many different levels. Teaching children is not one of my strong points (requires far more patience than I possess) which is why education was not an area I pursued.
But when the schools shut down due to COVID-19, I made a decision: I was going to give everything I had to homeschool for 9 weeks – 1 quarter. I had never put myself in the category of being capable of being a homeschool mom, but I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity. I read several times on social media that what we were being asked to do during this pandemic was not considered homeschool – the way we ran it in our home would prove them wrong.
(Now, I’m speaking very generally here – every teacher is so different, but this has been our overall experience over the last 10 years.)
My kids earn high honors at school but I’m not entirely sure how high the expectations are. They seem to skate through school with little effort which I think is typical in a large classroom setting. I have spent many hours in the classroom volunteering and teachers have an extremely hard role in making sure everyone is at level in every area while still keeping kids who have mastered the concepts engaged.
Homeschool was eye opening because I was able to more accurately see the holes in my kids learning and where they needed help – much easier when you’re focusing on a single kid and not 30 kids. This caused some emotions to run high on everyone’s part!
My kids were not used to mom teaching them and the first two weeks had some frustrating moments as we were working out a schedule and routine. They were used to a different way and I was frustrated that they had missed basic concepts at school that were part of their curriculum and yet they had high grades.
And writing? I’m not sure if this is nationwide or just our little area but writing is just not being taught! I think my kids have had a lot of practice – plenty of opportunities but their writing is not corrected with feedback so although they keep writing it’s not getting much better! This is something I’ve been fully aware of for a long while, but as I’ve corrected a lot of writing the last 9 weeks it has become even more apparent.
Luckily, we found our rhythm. We found resources that worked. (Hallie and Hunter had some assignments given online by their teachers and although I helped them they were able to manage it pretty well, I just provided supplemental learning.) Kids knew the expectations and it worked. One of my favorite parts was learning how my kids learn (and they all learn so differently) and I could cater to their specific needs. I love that it didn’t take all day. We spent time learning and then they had time to explore other interests like typing and coding and stop motion and reading and physical activities.
And the experience changed my perspective. All these years I’ve looked at homeschooling as something I could never do. But now I see the freedom, individual learning and time it gives back and I get why people do it. It may not be something we ever choose to do again, but I know its a possibility and I can do it (and even enjoy it) which was a mental block I had for years.
Our life has become busy as we’ve allowed kids to participate in activities and sports and it is enticing to have a shorter more focused school day. But even as I joked with my kids that they were going to like homeschool so much they wouldn’t want to go back – they weren’t laughing. In all reality, they love going to school. They are social beings and they have missed their friends and social environment. They miss their dual language program – which try as I may, I could not duplicate! Their public school experience has given them leadership opportunities and accountability and has been very positive. But it comes at a cost of 7 hours a day.
We are all hoping that schools open in the fall. But if they don’t, I’m confident we will have an equally enriching educational experience at home.