8 Helpful Lessons I Learned from Homeschooling
When people find out that I homeschooled my kids all the way through high school, they typically respond something like, “Well, I could never do that! How did you manage to teach them (insert perceived tough topic here)? How did you have the patience for that?
The truth is that there was nothing special about me, nor was I some sort of brainiac. My kids were regular kids as well, and our home was a typical suburban home. I decided to homeschool when my first one was only a toddler: I would see the bus come and pick up the little neighborhood kids and think, “Oh my gosh! I couldn’t send her off like that!” Around that same time, a tragedy occurred a few towns over: a lunchroom wall collapsed on top of a group of kindergarteners! That totally solidified my decision.
My decision to homeschool wasn’t something I methodically thought through; it was an emotional, gut-level decision that I made and stuck with. Fortunately, it worked out very well for us. My husband traveled a lot, and we moved a lot, so homeschooling offered us a consistency that would have been more difficult to maintain had the kids attended a regular school. We also got to vacation off-season and make the trek to visit my parents more regularly than we ever could have if we hadn’t been learning from home. Basically, when we went away, our school came with us!
As a homeschooling mom, I spent a lot of time with my kids-through the good, the bad, and the ugly! ;o) We all survived and actually thrived! They are now all successful adults with good and meaningful jobs. Would they be better off academically or professionally had they attended traditional school? There’s no way to know that, but I do know for certain that I don’t regret my choice in any way; they’re all strong adults with solid values an ability to learn and adapt to most situations. They treat people kindly and have great empathy for others. That, I consider a success!
Here’s what I learned; many of these principles can be applied whether or not you homeschool your kids. ;o)
Our time with our kids is short. Make the most of it. You will never regret spending more time with your kids. Ever! Trust me when I tell you that childhood flies by faster than you can ever imagine!
Our kids will be influenced most by those with whom they spend the most time, for better or for worse. As moms, we need to make sure to communicate with them on a deep level frequently. By getting under the hood often, we keep the lifeline of communication open, which can immunize them from many negative influences and situations.
Boys learn much differently than girls; they mature later, often much later. Boys are not interested in school; they’d rather make weapons out of sandwiches, legos, or anything else you can imagine. Boys also love role playing. My nephew loved playing Robin Hood to my mother’s Maid Marian! He would take his sword out and protect her from all kinds of imaginary threats! I still have the Lord of the Rings capes I made for mine when they were pretending to be Frodo, and I remember them trekking though the woods at a local park, sword in hand, cape on, pretending they were heading home to the Shire.
Their brilliance has no relation to their ability to actually sit and learn; huge mistake I made was that I assumed that because my little boys were so, so smart, they could be pushed to learn to read at 4 or 5. Total failure! I had to back off and then try again when they were more mature.
Boys learn best while moving! Yes, it’s possible to learn addition and multiplication while throwing a ball back and forth with mom. It’s also possible to retain information while standing on your head (truth! perhaps greater blood flow top the noggin helps!) If their hands are occupied when you’re reading a story, they will retain it just fine, and perhaps build fine lego creations in the process.
Electronic games are not your friend, or their friend. Both boys and girls get so easily addicted to online games. They are great time-suckers and will take away from their desire to read books and other activities that actually will grow their intellect. Many kids do like to wind-down with these games, but I found that I really needed to limit their access. On a positive note, my boys each have jobs in a computer-oriented field, so at least their time spent online led to something positive. It’s just something to be aware of, especially when they’re younger.
Experiential learning goes much further than book learning. Kids love to see, feel, and touch; they learn best through experience. Things like zoo memberships, passes to local historical sites and national/state parks are SO, SO worth the investment. Kids will absorb info without even realizing it’s school. That’s a win-win!
You don’t need to do it all! There’s no shame in outsourcing topics that you’re not comfortable teaching. If you choose to homeschool, don’t fret over your ability to teach complex subjects. These days, there are many resources available: co-ops, dual-credit college courses, teaching text books.
Kids are really amazing people! We can learn a lot from watching and interacting with them. I swear that kids keep you younger! I’ve never understood why those over-55 communities are so popular! Why would you want to segregate yourself from the passion and vibrancy that kids embody? As a mom, homeschooling or not, savor the freshness, the honesty, the enthusiasm that your kids have! Nurture them, and allow them to nurture you!
I loved (still do!) spending time with my children and other children. I so enjoy celebrating their brilliance, curiosity, raw honesty, and their unique perspective on the world! I’d love to help you recapture this with your children. My Happy Mom Toolkit might be just the thing you need to ditch the overwhelm and frustration that sometimes comes with parenting and embrace a new perspective so you (and your kids) can thrive!
I’d love to hear about your homeschooling experiences, too! Just hit reply and let me know your favorite tips and tricks!
Hi, I'm Beth. I help busy moms ditch the overwhelm and gain confidence, so they can enjoy parenting more, yell less, and have peaceful kids and a happy family.