I’m a recent convert to homeschooling, and by recent, I mean I pulled my kids out on March 21st, with only two months of school left.
Trust me - I've heard it all - Why didn't we start with the new school year? Don't I feel my kids needed the closure of the school year? Was there some major issue at school, like bullying?
Did I think of some of your questions? Oops, I forgot - Don't you worry your kids will be socially awkward? How are they actually going to learn things? Will they be using textbooks? How will you do it; won't you go crazy having your kids at home all day? Are you also going to start churning your own butter?
That set of questions is at least the tip of the iceberg as far as the questions both my family and strangers in line at the grocery store have come up with.
Here’s my shot at answering them:
We had decided that homeschooling would be the best fit for our kids; why would I keep them in class for two more months if I was going to pull them in August? They had the closure of Spring Break to end their time at school. My children’s teachers each made a big deal out of them leaving and they celebrated both my children in class that day. Would they have gotten that same celebration if they just “weren't coming back next year?”
There was no bullying happening but the learning environment just wasn't allowing my children to flourish as much as I would have wanted, although they had wonderful teachers and great school full of nice students and hard-working administration. The problem was there were 20+ kids in each class, and while that's a low number (for California), it was too many for my preference.
My kids are not socially awkward. They have more play dates now than they did while they were in school. They enjoy spending time with cousins, sports teammates and friends while not worrying about rushing home to finish their homework.
We are actually learning, thank you very much! I am a multi-subject CA credentialed teacher so the state would trust me with those 20+ classroom students. I do NOT believe you must have a credential to teach your own children at home; I know plenty of amazing homeschool parents who are not credentialed teachers but are wonderful teachers to their children. Remember most parents teach their infants/toddlers everyday, starting with mimicking sounds and actions to teaching the abc’s, numbers, colors, etc. A credentialed teacher does not know every subject for every grade, perfectly, but instead knows how to read the teacher’s manual which breaks down the teaching points and steps for each lesson.
My children are using textbooks for some of their learning in Math and English Language Arts, while their richest subjects of history and science have been taught through museum visits and exploration. So far my children have been to more museums in the last 2 months than perhaps in the last few years.
We learned about ocean life from hands-on activities in Santa Barbara. We accompanied my husband on a work trip to Ohio where we hit a variety of museums to learn about the Wright Brothers and the history of flight. We read books in preparation for the trip and once there, stood looking firsthand at the places we'd seen photographed in the books.
We visited the home of Paul Laurence Dunbar (an African American poet who inspired Maya Angelou). We also visited the largest plane museum at the National Museum of the US Air Force. We saw over 300 planes, including a Stealth Bomber and rocket ships.
We visited the World’s Largest Children’s Museum for some fun and educational adventures. Most recently we learned about CA history and the Gold Rush at the CA History Musuem and topped it off with a visit to the State Capital to support a music educators rally, my husband was involved with. We even headed into an assemblywoman's office to petition the cause. I think you'd agree that my children are learning things.
It is a constant daily struggle to keep my patience and we’re all learning how to work through the daily struggles and tantrums we all want to throw at home. What's really exciting is being able to help my children learn how to push through the temptation to give up or pout when things get hard--a lesson they had yet to learn. As first and second graders toward the end of the year, they were unable to finish a worksheet page without being put back on track or encouraged to keep going. My daughter now reads directions for herself and figures out what to do instead of being told what to do!
I'm not perfect! I lose my cool more than I'd like to admit but I'm trying. I do need breaks and I work with my husband to make sure I'm getting my time alone or away from the house.
[Tweet "The coolest part of homeschooling: sharing my love of learning with my kids."]
The coolest part, for me, has been sharing my love of learning with my kids. I taught my son how to sound out words and watched as he realized when you sound out each letter and put them together you can read! I've taught lessons and later, at a museum, my children have been able to recall the information when asked.
I have yet to churn my own butter and would say I never will, except fourth grade history will be here soon and I'm sure there is a butter churning lesson in there with the pioneers.
I don't eat all organic, although I'd love to. I own a TV although we don't have cable and usually each shows like Wild Kratts online. I'm a “normal” person who while I thought might die from headbutting if I homeschooled my children, instead found that I am loving being home to learn with my children!
How you can you beat learning about the Capitol by visiting it and watching firsthand as bills are passed?
What are some questions you've always wanted to ask a homeschooling parent? Let me see if I have an answer to your question!
Copyright 2016 Courtney Vallejo
About the Author
Courtney Vallejo is a convert to the Catholic faith, who is currently living in Arizona. She and her husband, homeschool their three adopted children. She is the cofounder of AMomRevolution.com, whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and reclaim joy in motherhood. She also writes for her own blog, CourtneyVallejo.com. Courtney holds a Master's degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Follow her Gluten Free/Dairy Free adventures on Instagram: @aglutenfreerevolution.