School will be starting soon around the country and in our house, that’s no different. What is different is that three years ago we decided to homeschool our children and in today’s post, I want to share with you some of the lessons my husband and I have learned from our third year of homeschooling.
If you haven’t read any of my previous homeschooling posts, check them out here.
I wanted to take a few minutes today and recap what lessons we have learned over the last three years.
If you haven’t read my first two posts on homeschooling, now would be a good time to catch up on what we learned after Year 1 and lessons from Year 2. By the way, don’t pay attention to the fact my husband has the same shirt on in both posts -he told me to write that.
As I stated in earlier posts about homeschooling, especially with multiple children, each child learns differently, and it takes time to figure out how to best teach your child. That’s something people told me before I started homeschooling but I didn’t really understand until I really spent some time with my kids.
What was the biggest difference in year three? We have a much better system in place, we try to keep a regular routine for work times (for both kids and adults), and we understand how to teach our kids in a way that is not only educational but fun.
Who teaches the kids?
Year 3, they continued to attend a local homeschool center twice a week where they learned the concepts in depth. Then, the other two days my husband and I supervised the application of what they learned at home. Similar to regular school it’s “home-work” and projects.
They are busy learning four days a week and have the flexibility to go do activities with other friends and families during the day as well.
If you find that your child needs extra work in a certain area, like reading, you can easily add in something like the Family Literacy Program. It’s a fun, family-centered program with content in both English and Spanish!
What’s a homeschool schedule like?
A “regular” schedule has provided us with a structure to know when to learn what and on what days. It also gives us the ability to move quickly through the easier material and spend more time on things our kids need help on.
Mos of the “learning” happens in the morning, at their most focused time and after lunch in the afternoon, we try to have them focus on skill-sets.
What that means is that our daughter, for example, will choose to spend some time learning to edit videos (which in order to edit she has to create videos) and my middle child is learning to code video games (also something he wants to do).
Our youngest child is still at a stage where he spends his free time doing creative play like legos, puzzles, and of course, watching the occasional YouTube video with his brother.
Something we’ve implemented this year is that “screen time” is earned -even screen time to do things like learning to code; because otherwise, kids will naturally abuse it. It’s also the first privilege they lose.
What are the benefits of homeschooling?
For our family, the biggest benefit continues to be the flexibility of our kids’ schedule that homeschooling provides for us. In the past year, we have traveled to several different cities and learned about the local cultures and lifestyles. We involve the kids in finding things to do and what they want to see.
It is a given that there will be something we learn from every adventure and quite frankly, because of my crazy work schedule, I can only go on adventures when most kids are in school.
Secondarily, my kids are learning life skills they can carry with them forever. For example, they have observed and participated in the remodeling of the MOMables Studio, and our home kitchen.
They understand how simple things work in a house and why math is important. I watched my son learn to take measurements for his dad and how dad turned it into a real-life math lesson. It was so easy to translate that experience into something tangible for my son, and he picked it up without fully understanding fractions -which in regular school, he wouldn’t have learned just yet.
Finally, the hours we spend at work and school is often our best hours and unfortunately, we don’t have the opportunity to give our best hours to our families. Homeschooling has changed that for us. Since my husband quit his corporate job to help me with my company part time and with homeschooling, we both feel that we get to see the best of each other.
Homeschooling our kids has helped improve our marriage since we are able to catch up at any time. For many years our time together was often spent at the end of the day when everyone was tired and cranky and there were days we barely spoke for more than 10 minutes and most of the things we talked about was about the kids and family scheduling logistics.
The last few years have brought to light the reality that I’m a better parent to my kids the more I interact with them and homeschooling provides me that opportunity on a much deeper level than I ever had before.
So what are the lessons that I’ve learned this past year?
1. I need to be flexible with my expectations.
My youngest took a little longer to learn to read than the other two kids (who were taught at a regular school) and the method was also different. One day, he just started reading and everything made sense -this happened nearly overnight and without “sounding out” words. He just reads.
But for months, I even wondered if he needed an additional reading tutor, just because I couldn’t’ see the same “progress” I saw in my older two kids. His teacher at the homeschool center told me to “trust the process” and she was right.
2. Trust the process.
Kids will learn. They are sponges. How many times have you heard that? So many! And yet, we get impatient about so many things -us homeschooling parents included.
My kids are going through their textbooks start to finish (something neither my husband and I recall ever doing in our many years of schooling) and at a pace that suits them. Sometimes we spend more time in a chapter while some chapters we breeze through. In the end, when we have them take the standardized tests (ACT testing or IOWA test) they are always on par with where they should be.
3. Organization is essential for survival and success.
We realized that all of our children need a plan for the week. They need to know what they are going to be learning, where, and what their responsibilities will be at home.
This helps us as well because we know who needs to do what and when and it keeps both adults and kids accountable with our responsibilities. Sometimes, we blow off doing homework all together and head to the lakefront on a Wednesday morning because the weather is nice, but we catch up on Friday and we’re ok with that.
We learned this the hard way last year when we hired part-time help at home with the juggle and because we weren’t as involved in some areas, we lost track of some of the things that needed to be done.
This year, my husband and I are managing all the at-home-learning (without hired help) and instead, I hired part-time help at the office so I can spend time in what’s more important: my kids.
Being organized with our time by creating time blocks and mapping out my husband’s and my responsibilities for each day; like who is driving our kids to tutoring and picking them up, who goes to the office when, workouts and more, is the single biggest change we are making this year.
Can you homeschool if you’re a working parent?
Yes, but unless you have a job that allows the flexibility you need to accommodate your kid’s learning needs at home and outside the home or hire a tutor or sitter/nanny, it’s practically impossible. A supportive spouse is a must as you might have noticed that the homeschool + working parent is a juggling act.
This year I’m really looking forward to traveling with my family again this fall and living in Utah for 7 weeks this winter. We’ll see how the experience goes and if it’s something we’re able to repeat; but for now, we’re taking this one year at a time.
Do you homeschool? What are some of your tips?