Why I’m homeschooling my kids | Burke, VA Family Photographer

As I write this, COVID-19 is still raging around our country. Among all of its twists and turns it has brought to 2020 is a resurgence of this word: homeschool. Suddenly, parents who may have never considered homeschooling for their family, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Send their kids to school with unknown rules regarding masks, distancing, and sharing common spaces? Or learn as much as they can about homeschool, curriculum, methods, etc. in a very short amount of time, respectively? My spouse and I chose to homeschool in January 2019 when sending our firstborn off to Kindergarten in Fall of 2020 seemed to be getting closer and closer. I was homeschooled for my early elementary years, but convincing myself and my husband that I was up to the task was a whole new game. Here is what I have learned in the past 18 months and some pivoting points that helped in my decision making.

1. Write down your “why”. It may not be anything glamorous right now, but write it down. If your reason is “I don’t want my kids to go to public school with unknown distancing rules” then great. It’s okay. My “why” is wanting to spend time with my kids, wanting them to spend time together as siblings, having our own schedule, and being outside more. Write it down (I have a homeschool journal) and then come back to it later down the road. Your “why” will change and that’s okay. Visit it often and write your new “why”. Half the fun is watching it change.

2. Believing that I am their best teacher. This one took me a while to come to terms with. But in reality, you know your kid best. You have known them since before they were born. You know their ticks, their cues, their emotions, their tendencies, their strengths, and their weaknesses. How could you not be their best guide? Yes, guide. Not teacher. I confidently tell my kids I don’t know everything. I am happy to walk along side them, pulling resources, gathering materials, and learning along side them. Being a willing learner yourself will be a great attitude to lean into on this journey.

3. Finding a method or two or three that works for your family. Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Wild and Free, and unschooling. These are all terms you may run across in google search adventures. I don’t like to be totally committed to one method so I pick and choose what I like from each. We are unschooled in that the kids mostly choose topics to learn about, we follow Mason in our love of outdoors and all nature has to teach us, we are Wild and Free because I give them time to be still and enjoy life, we use our imagination like the Waldorf method, and learn to express ourselves Reggio Emilia style. I want my kids to be self-starters and led by their own interests not only now, but throughout their life. I enjoy a few curriculum, but mostly steer away from them. Start out small and you will discover what works for your family. 

4. I want their social lives to thrive. Homeschool used to have a bad connotation that I think is dissolving away at a steady pace. As more and more families choose the homeschool life I think the view has moved in the positive direction. Homeschooling in this COVID world? It kind of stinks. We miss our homeschool group of friends that met every Monday morning. We miss adventuring to parks to see the eagle in its nest, checking out new books at the library, visiting factories to see how things are made, and seeing art in person in museums. This is tough homeschooling right now, but as the world opens back up I promise you will enjoy it more and more. Build your community because having people around you who are doing the same thing is a gem. 

For those who are interested in learning more, there is a lovely podcast by Your Parenting Mojo that just came out recently. It’s focused on parents just like you - in a pickle over homeschooling or sending them to school. You want to peel back the curtain of homeschooling a little more and see what’s inside. Check out the quick 45 minute podcast here. I’m also happy to chat with anyone more.

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