Today, my 7th grader did his math lesson on a laptop in my parents’ dining room, his spelling on the living room floor, and his history on the couch.
Yesterday, we planned a last-minute field trip to a children’s museum since grandma was available to join us.
Last week, when all the public schools were in session, we took our Spring break because it worked better for our family’s schedule.
A month ago, my 4th grader and I decided to switch to a different math curriculum. We transitioned mid-year to a program that worked better for him.
We’ve got no school desks, no bulletin boards, no interactive smart whiteboard, and no lockers. Some days we start school at 7am and other days at 10am. Our homeschool is a far cry from a public school classroom.
But it wasn’t always so.
Years ago, when we first started homeschooling, I assumed my job as homeschool mom was to recreate the public school experience I had growing up. So, I devised a detailed hourly schedule, hung up ABC posters, and worried about which school desks I should buy and where to put them.
I wish I knew then what I know now. It would’ve saved me a lot of work, worry, and money!
Simply put, homeschools are NOT public schools! They aren’t supposed to be and they shouldn’t try to be.
Every homeschool is inherently and wonderfully unique. Every home educating family has unique strengths, weaknesses, and objectives. And homeschooling itself is a very flexible, adaptable method of education.
The more we (as homeschooling families or as a society) try to force homeschooling into the “traditional schooling” mold, the more we diminish the benefits and the amazing potential of home education.
After I let go of the notion that I had to construct a mini public school classroom in my home, I was a lot less stressed and homeschooling became much more natural and enjoyable.
I tossed out the detailed hourly schedule that was turning me into “mean taskmaster mommy” and opted for a much more relaxed routine for our days.
I took down the kindergarten ABC posters since my kids never used them anyway.
And I stopped obsessing over finding matching classroom desks and let my kids work wherever they were comfortable and able to concentrate.
For most of us, it can be hard to think of “doing school” in a way that’s different than public school. But, remember…. “school” and “education” are NOT the same thing. (That’s why I prefer the term “home education” over “homeschool.”)
In a way, homeschools remind me a lot less of “schools” and a lot more of grown-up, “real-world” life.
Here’s what I mean. As an adult, if I want to read a book, I’ll grab a cup of cocoa, find a cozy sofa, and read. When I worked in an office, it was with people of all ages, not just my same-aged peers. If I want to learn to garden or swing dance or make oil paintings, I’ll take a class or connect with others who have common interests.
Homeschools are just like that.
We set goals. We find resources. We build community. We learn how to learn. And we do it in whatever ways work best for our kids and our family’s circumstances. Sometimes it looks like “school” and other times not so much.
If you’re feeling limited by ingrained ideas of how school “should” be done, keep asking yourself “why” to get to the heart of the issue. For example:
- Why do I need those individual classroom desks? Is that really what works best for our family’s situation (budget, space, comfort)?
- Why am I pushing my five year old to read immediately? Is that timing really best for this individual child?
- Why do I insist on using worksheets when my student hates them and I hate grading them? Is there another way we could learn the same material?
- Why are we forcing ourselves to stick with this schedule (for example, Monday through Friday, 8am to 3pm) when it’s not working for us? Would it help to try different timeframes or routines?
Go ahead and question the norms! After all, you chose to homeschool for a reason. Don’t fall into the trap of turning your homeschool into the school setting you left (or chose not to attend in the first place)!
There’s more than one way to educate. Infinitely more. And home education flings wide the doors to endless possibilities for teaching and learning.
In my book, Think About Homeschooling: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & Why It Works, I fully dismantle the myth that homeschools are inferior because they aren’t identical to public schools. Think About Homeschooling dives head first into the sea of misinformation and stereotypes surrounding home education. It will help you sort out fact from fiction, determine if homeschooling is a good fit for your family, and reach your homeschool’s full potential. Find out more about Think About Homeschooling here or buy it now!
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