If you are one of the ever-growing number of parents choosing to homeschool your children for the first time this year, please allow me to save you from a common misconception that delays families from reaping the benefits of what a homeschooling lifestyle has to offer.
Perhaps you experienced what your children’s school termed “virtual learning” or “distance learning” last year, and you’re thinking of duplicating what you observed. Perhaps you’re simply recalling what your school experience was as a child, and you think you might try to recreate that in your home. Maybe you’re envisioning yourself standing in front of a blackboard at the front of a classroom dictating lessons each day while your children sit quietly in their seats until lunchtime.
You could do that. After all, one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to make it whatever you deem best for your family and each child.
However, most families that set off on that road tend to quickly learn that these all-too-familiar trappings of school aren’t conducive to the learning and thriving of children and are especially out of sync with a warm, loving home.
The truth is that homeschool—when at its best—isn’t school at home, and for the happiest homeschoolers, school and homeschool bear little resemblance to each other.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Many of the habits, practices, rules, and policies you find in every public school exist to maximize safety among a crowd of students and teachers, to maintain order, to elicit obedience, and to control behavior. These are both unnecessary and unpleasant if brought home.
What’s more, it’s worth recognizing the degree to which public schools have been successful in educating their students over the past few decades. If you’re unaware, their record has been poor, to say the least, and deteriorating consistently. While you may find yourself choosing homeschool this year as a result of recent world events, know that the system you’re passing on has been deficient for a long time. Why duplicate a failing strategy?
To truly experience the beauty of homeschooling, recall the ways in which you’ve taught your children the myriad of things they’ve learned from you. On your watch, your children learned to walk, talk, eat, drink, get dressed, interact with family and friends, and so much more. Perhaps you taught them the alphabet or even to read simple words. Perhaps you taught them to weed your garden or bake a cake. You’ve instilled in them the values of your family and the character standards you deem important. You could fill pages and pages with what you’ve already taught your children if you really think about it—and I bet you did it all outside of a standard classroom environment, unconfined by the hours between 9 and 3.
What you did probably looked more like encouragement—creating an environment at home and on the go in which your child could immerse him or herself and naturally learn and grow.
Further, think about what you do when you want or need to learn something new. Have you ever taught yourself a new skill or researched the ins and outs of a new hobby? What interests have you explored? What questions have you found the answers to? What skills have you acquired in your life?
The ways in which you approached such learning probably looked quite different from the way education is approached in school. What’s more, you likely truly learned rather than simply memorizing enough to pass a test and then forgetting it altogether.
If this is about to be your first year of homeschooling, you couldn’t have timed this decision better. There are countless resources to be found and communities of fellow homeschoolers just about everywhere.
Do your research, think about what would be the most wonderful homeschooling experience for your children, for yourself, for your family as a whole, and stay flexible as you learn and grow. Relish the fact that you don’t need to duplicate school at home and that you’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.