There was a time, not so long ago, when I was that parent saying, “I will never be able to homeschool, I don’t have the patience” and “Kids need to socialise, they need school”. It never once occurred to me that I might find myself homeschooling three of our four children because I wanted to.
Our homeschooling journey started at the beginning of 2019, so homeschooling is still new to us. There are many reasons why we decided to homeschool, but the short version is that my kids were just not getting what they needed from the schools they were at. I had tried talking to teachers, we had moved schools, and, in the end, I just felt that it would be best for them if we took them out of a traditional school.
Also read: A day in the life of a homeschooling family
I spent months researching various options and different teaching styles. I spoke to parents who were unschooling (i.e. parents who were not following a specific curriculum), parents who were following a “strict” boxed curriculum, and those who were just kind of figuring it out along the way. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming, but it is important to understand what your options are.
We are now 18 months into our journey, and we are still trying to find the best way for my youngest – who is 6 – to learn. She is super smart (yeah yeah, I know everyone says that, but she is!) and very much likes to do things her own way. But, for the most part, we have settled into a nice routine and we are part of some great co-ops that are busy with activities daily.
When we started our journey, I was still not sure that I would have the patience (and some days I don’t) or the knowledge needed to take on this role, but I can honestly say it was one of best decisions we have ever made. These are just some of the best things about homeschooling:
No early mornings. When I made a list of reasons why I wanted to homeschool, the morning and afternoon madness was one of them. Our mornings were busy and chaotic, and often when I got home from dropping everyone off, I was exhausted. Our mornings are now calm, gentle, and we follow our own rhythms. Jack is up early so often that we start early, while Emma gets up later so her day starts later. I love that every morning we can eat breakfast in a calm environment and start our day when we feel ready to do so.
We work with each child’s needs. If Emma had been in school, she would have been so bored. She hates the mundane work like writing out words she already knows or doing basic maths. Now, she can move onto harder work whenever she wants to, or we can stay on a topic a little longer if we need to do that.
We learn about things that interest us. I found this to be the best way to reach our reluctant learner. He doesn’t like to read but if we get books on topics he loves, he will read. This means we are learning not only how to read, but also about topics that are of interest to both of us.
No one has to sit still. This may be unique to us, but both Jack and Emma need to move. They do not like to sit still and if I try to force them (like I did in the early days), it ends in tears (theirs and mine). When I stopped forcing them and worked around their need for movement, it got much easier. Emma will rollerblade around the house while I ask her to do maths sums. Jack will do a bit of work, walk outside, fetch a bug, and sit down again.
It is flexible. We are no longer bound by the confines of school hours or school holidays. We can do what we want, when we want. If we want to skip today and maybe do some maths on Sunday, we can do that. As a work-from-home mom this works so well for me because I can juggle and shuffle schedules as I need to.
It is cheaper. At its most basic, all you really need to homeschool is access to a library, an internet connection, and stationery. There are tons of free resources online that you can draw from and Google is in and of itself one big free library. Even if you want to invest in boxed curriculums like Impaq, they are often cheaper than private school fees.
Socialising is actually socialising. It took me a while to reach out to a few co-ops in our area but once we did, it opened up a whole new world for us. Co-ops are made up of kids of all ages, which means that my kids can now make friends with kids they identify and connect with, even if they are not the same age. This has been particularly important for Emma who has always gravitated towards older kids.
Learning with my kids. I have learned so much with my kids over the past 18 months. Their interests are different to mine so I am learning more than I maybe wanted to know about spiders and frogs, but it has been and will continue to be, a journey we are on together.
Watching them “get it”. When Emma started reading all on her own one day, it was amazing. When Jack announces “OOOHH I GET IT NOW” or says, “I love History”, it really is an affirmation that we are doing it right. Watching them learn has been one of the greatest gifts we’ve given them, which I love being a part of.
It has made us closer. I love being around my kids. Of course, some days get a little too much but honestly, being at home together all the time has bought us closer to one another. We love doing things together and our whole attitude as parents has changed. We have learned things about our kids I don’t think we would have if they were at school.
Homeschooling is not easy, but it is not as hard as you think. It is an incredible journey that you get to take with your children, and I love that we get to do this with our kids.
Laura is a wife, business owner and homeschooling mom to four children. Her oldest, Cameron, is 18, about to finish school, Kiara is 16, Jack is 9 and Emma is 6. Laura runs her business from home while also homeschooling the 3 younger children. It is a crazy, chaotic mess, but there is organisation and order in the chaos. When she is not teaching kids about tree frogs and long division, she is writing for her blog, HarassedMom.