a) this is why I'm not cut out for homeschooling
b) this is why I didn't homeschool my kids
c) homeschooling is killing me!!!
Sometimes, this disgust / exasperation is cleverly disguised as admiration for people who DO homeschool, but it basically comes down to the same thing -- homeschoolers must be nuts.
And I totally feel for you. I’m absolutely certain you’re going out of your tree with rangy kids running around begging you for their next snack or meal or whatever it is.
(I created this helpful guide to aid GZ in understanding what he was allowed to snack on right before supper…)
Look, I don't speak for anybody. Heck, I'm not even a homeschooler anymore. So maybe somebody else can say this better, but I still feel it needs to be said:
THIS ISN'T HOMESCHOOLING!!!
What you're doing at home while you're isolated is about as far as it is from homeschooling as it is from school-schooling. Meaning, it simply isn't.
Depending on where you are, and how old your kids are, you may be doing one of a few things:
- - Trying to supplement with educational resources online, keeping up with the million and one videos, webinars, free live classes, and whatnot that educators are telling you you must do
- - Ignoring the educators and trying to do diverting / distracting / educational / fun things like playing games and baking
- - Trying to carry on in your kids' existing school books and lessons despite being unprepared and unqualified
- Fill in the blanks, hodge-podge of scrambling to meet the educational needs of multiple children
- ...Or some combination thereof.
And probably, depending on how long you've been isolated, it's driving you CRAZY.
And you wonder how homeschoolers do it.
So I'm here to assure you that they don't.
Here are 3 main ways what most of us are doing right now (including me) isn’t homeschooling:
1. We’re stuck at home!
I’ll start with the Number One biggest reason what’s going on all over Israel and other places right now is NOT homeschooling: it’s being done AT HOME.
Despite the word "home" in the title, so much homeschooling takes place outside the home that being stuck AT HOME is just as much a torment for homeschoolers as it is for anyone else.
When we were homeschooling, we spent a ton of time in parks, gyms, classes, meetups, and almost anywhere except our teeny-tiny home.
The main question people ask when they find out you’re homeschooling is often, “But what about socialization?” They wonder how kids will learn to function in society. I’m here to say that homeschooled kids generally socialize more, and socialize more naturally, than kids thrown together arbitrarily by school boards into narrow age-group ghettos.
Think about it. Wouldn’t you rather your kid know how to talk to people of all ages, sizes, races, colours, cultures, demographics? Because in school, chances are they’re only going to socialize with people of about the same age, size, shape, and culture, from the same neighbourhood and approximate income bracket.
Whatever the case, home may be the centre of a kid’s homeschooling world, but it’s more like home base than house arrest.
2. We’re not in charge!
When we were homeschooling, we were the ones who chose what we would learn, not any kind of outside resource or authority. In families with older homeschoolers, kids often take responsibility for their own learning.
When you’re trying to do “school at home,” especially when someone else is calling the shots, that doesn’t happen.
Families and homeschoolers have a lot of say in what they’re learning when. Whereas some schools, here at least, are telling kids what time they have to do certain things: meetings, online assignments, and more.
Some scheduling is probably helpful, and it’s nice to check in with familiar teachers and routines – especially for kids with special needs or autism – but in some cases, they’re overly scheduled and there’s no reason for it.
Another difference I’m noticing is that when we homeschool in the summer, I have time to plan ahead and order workbooks. Because this isolation has caught us unprepared, a lot of our tasks are on computers and screens, and that feels very unnatural for me as a learning style.
When homeschooled families and kids set the schedule according to their own interests and needs, they’ll generally be more motivated to get through the material more efficiently, having more fun… and with less driving each other crazy.
3. Every kid for him/herself!
Another huge difference: very often, when we were homeschooling, our learning took place together, not in multiple closed-off Zoom sessions or whatever it is that teachers may be trying to make kids do now.
(This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the heading, but I thought this giraffe family was just too cute to resist!!!)
Every family is different, of course. And every kid is different – some really like working independently, some like being with their sibs as much as possible (well, okay, maybe not…).
But very often, if a homeschooling family is on a field trip or working on a project, they’ll all works together, WITH each other, with everyone learning at their own level. So it doesn’t drive parents crazy the way the multitasking, multi-grade educating is doing right now.
People right now are asking how homeschooling parents manage to keep up with three or four or five or more kids’ math classes, chumash, biology classes, whatever it is. And yes, I’m sure sometimes it’s a struggle, and I’m sure there are days when you need all the arms of an octopus to keep everybody busy and moving forward.
But I suspect that experienced homeschooling parents learn how to juggle things naturally, for example, having some kids doing less parent-intensive tasks while others get one-on-one attention.
But when you’re trying to do school at home, that’s every single day, every single lesson, sending kids off to do multiple complex tasks they’re incapable of completing on their own… well, that’s a recipe for chaos.
Let’s focus on what’s most important:
It's great to keep up routines. I'm all for keeping kids learning if that's what they're used to.
But I think that the one major lesson of homeschooling that we can maybe all learn from in this crazy, chaotic time is: FOCUS ON WHAT’S BEST FOR THE KIDS.
If school at home is making your kids crazy, weigh what they actually need to do and the benefit they’re going to get from it. Sure, if it’s the one thing that stands between them and graduation, you’re going to need to slog on through.
Otherwise? As far as I’m concerned, it’s okay to pare down the learning, take it at your own pace, focus on the things that interest and excite you and your kids, and consolidate things so you’re learning more together and less off in your own separate corners – unless that’s what you enjoy most.
How are you doing? What are your family’s strategies for surviving isolation / quarantine / distancing? I’d love to hear from you, either by email or in the comments.
Stay strong, be well,