I am a homeschool mom, although you might be surprised at how often we are not at home. So much of our education takes place at libraries, museums, and parks. School is wherever the student and teacher are.
I never expected to be here. I have a career as a teacher, albeit part-time while my children are young. I guess I always expected my kids would attend a traditional school, public or private. But after identifying some special emotional and educational needs in one of my kids, we decided we would try home education as a solution. It works well with our family schedule. My husband is able to stay home and teach every Tuesday while I am teaching at a local homeschool enrichment program. My older child rides to school with me and attends classes while I teach my second day of classes every Thursday. The other days of the week, I am home teaching my own kids.
Our days have an easy flow that carries over into our learning time. Our learning plan is rigorous but not rigid. There is no rush to master a particular concept. Science classes can be as simple as a walk through the park, identifying bugs and flowers. Math can include games of Monopoly.
Maybe this appeals to you. Maybe homeschooling has been something in the back of your mind that you’d like to try, but you aren’t sure where to start or if you can do it. Well, mama, sit down with your cup of coffee and let me answer a few questions.
You are already educating your child at home. You have potty-trained, taught you child to brush his or her teeth, make the bed, say “please” and “thank you.” Your child uses utensils to eat? Well, who taught that skill? You did! Well done. Give yourself a high five! Parents live in educator mode because that’s our job, training these tiny people on how to become big people. So adding math and phonics and history to the day is just an extension of what we already do.
Even if you don’t have a teaching degree, you can be your child’s best teacher. Mama, you have spent years learning your child’s personality, anxieties, and passions. You can create a truly personalized education plan for YOUR child. If something isn’t working, you can change it. This past school year, I changed my son’s math curriculum in November. I also took two months off from phonics because he was dreading every lesson. Guess what. It was fine. We still read books every single day, and his reading skills took off during this break.
If you don’t know where to start, do not go to Google. Please. Don’t. And for the love of your sanity, do not go to Instagram and search the tag #homeschooling. You will be amazed and inspired and utterly overwhelmed.
So here is what you do. You find yourself a homeschooling mom, and you make friends with her. Even if you don’t have a homeschool mom in your immediate circle of friends, you likely have one in your social media friends list. Reach out to that mom. Yes, even the one you haven’t talked to since junior high. Send that girl a message.
Because you know what homeschooling moms LOVE to talk about? Homeschooling. They have read and researched and tried and failed and retried. And you can benefit from their experiences. Homeschooling moms will show you the books they use and tell you how to get the best deals on the materials you will need. They will show you how they organize their homeschool spaces (read: mostly kitchen tables) and give you the best learning websites. Homeschool moms are going to be your most valuable resource.
You do not have to do this alone. Homeschooling in Texas is the best. We have so much freedom in choosing how we educate our kids. You can find the legal requirements here. But Texas is rich with homeschool resources. We have free online options (for grades three through 12) homeschool co-ops, enrichment programs, and university model schools. Last year I enrolled my kindergartener in one of these programs, and he took science, art, and public speaking. My son made friends, learned about coral reefs, and learned to address a crowd with confidence. It was a blessing for us both.
And finally, homeschooling doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. We are taking my kids’ educational journey year by year. Homeschooling works for us now, but there may come a time where it is no longer the best option for our family. We are committed to reevaluate regularly and make decisions that meet the needs of both of our kids, even if that looks different for each child.
I don’t mean to make homeschooling sound like the easy choice. It’s work. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate children to want to do math. It’s tiring not to have a break. But when I sit down at night with my kids, and my six year old asks if he can read the bedtime story, complete with voices, I can sit back proudly and think “I taught him that.” And it’s totally worth it.