Back in May 2020, soon after the shutdowns began, we wrote the article Turning Temporary “School at Home” into Permanent “Homeschooling”. It’s been almost a year since then, and I thought we should come back and revisit that discussion. I know so many people are still up in the air with their children’s schooling. Maybe you are burned out from Zoom schooling, or maybe you aren’t comfortable returning to a public school classroom yet. Or maybe you’ve discovered that this homeschooling thing is actually kind of great.
Have you been homeschooling for this past year? Is it something you think you might want to continue with once the world goes back to normal?
In our first blog post of this series, we referenced a May 2020 RealClear Opinion Research poll finding that suggested 40% of families may be more likely to continue to homeschool their children when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Typically, the homeschooling community hovers around the 3% mark or almost 2 million students. An Education Weekly poll from November 2020 reported these numbers were now pushing 5 million students at 9% of the US K-12 population.
Literally millions of students have jumped from the public school ship. Were they secretly contemplating homeschooling but not quite at the tipping point? Were they fed up with all of the public school distance learning hiccups and inconsistencies? Did they realize that they actually preferred how personalized, flexible, and effective homeschooling is over the traditional classroom model? It could have been any or all of those reasons, but here we are: a full year into the pandemic and emergency homeschooling.
So, now what? I have a few more nuggets of wisdom I’d like to share with you – a bit of encouragement to help you through this adventure.
Are you still playing curriculum hop? Or have you found what works for your family? In the early days of homeschooling, most of us have to trial run several different curricula before we figure out what works best. It’s important to remember that this is normal. If something isn’t working, you don’t have to be married to it. This is one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling – being able to tailor the curriculum to your child! And no one curriculum is the “right” curriculum. Find what works best for your child and stick with it.
Since you are here, I hope you will explore Build Your Library, our secular, Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool curriculum. I do the hard work for you so you can just sit back, relax, and teach your children with beautiful living literature!
I would also encourage you to join some online social groups where you can talk to other homeschooling parents who are in the thick of it. Some of us are veterans who have been homeschooling for a decade or longer, but some are newbie homeschoolers just like you who might have already asked the question you have been pondering. We have a wonderfully active community on Facebook at our Build Your Library Families group. But if you are looking for something more general, there are many secular homeschooling groups on Facebook. These groups are invaluable resources for learning about curriculum, teaching methods, solving problems in your homeschool, and building community!
Suddenly, socialization is an issue for everyone, not just homeschoolers. We all feel cooped up and lonely, and maybe a little bit stir-crazy. It is a myth that homeschoolers are unsocialized. However, when social distancing is the rule, it can feel very isolating. But there are still opportunities to be social, even during a pandemic!
Remember, there is a light at the end of this tunnel and hopefully, sooner rather than later, we’ll get back to being able to spend our days out in the world with friends, exploring and socializing. But for now, we have to get a bit more creative to meet those needs.
Go easy on yourself. This is a crazy season of life we are in right now and you are dealing with a lot. Remember that this is not the norm. And if it’s stressful for you, it’s also stressful for your child. So don’t make homeschooling an overly stressful endeavor.
While we are in this season, take a step back and think about what education means to you. If you were the one being homeschooled, what would you want your day to look like? What should we expect from our children right now?
I have seen a lot of discussion over the past year about how terrible it is for children to lose a year of school. “They will get behind! We are setting them up for failure!” That is fear-mongering and it just isn’t true. We have set up these arbitrary grade levels and expect all children to perform at the same pace as their age peers. But this isn’t how learning works and it isn’t how homeschooling works. Ask any homeschool parent what grade level their child is in and you will get at least 3 levels per kid. Maybe your child is ahead in math but behind in writing. But I would ask, ahead of or behind whom?
If you are consistently working with your child and they are progressing through the material – they are learning. That is all that matters. Whether they start to read at 4 or 8, they will still be reading. Whether your 12-year-old is studying pre-algebra or still mastering multiplication facts, if they are making progress, they are learning and they are doing it on their own timetable.
If we only take one thing from this experience of Pandemic Homeschooling, I hope it is this – children learn at their own pace and in their own way. There is no one right way to do anything, but rather the best way for your child.
As a veteran homeschooler of over 18 years – yes. You absolutely can. I’ve graduated 3 out of 4 of my children and two of them are flourishing in college. I think, for the most part, we all homeschool with the idea that we are doing what is best for our children RIGHT NOW. That could change in a year or two. But right now, teaching at home is best for whatever reason.
But you might be wondering if you should be planning on sending them back to school once things return to normal, or if you should continue learning at home. The answer will be different for each family. But I hope you will consider giving homeschooling another year even once the world returns to normal. Then you can experience what real homeschooling is like – with field trips and park days and co-ops and real-world experiences we’ve had to put on the shelf for now. If your child is flourishing, if they are learning and adjusting to being home, please consider keeping at it beyond the pandemic.
Homeschooling is challenging under the best conditions. It is a huge responsibility to take on the education of your child. But throw a world-wide pandemic into the mix and the challenges just keep mounting. But I’m here to tell you that it is going to be ok. Your children are learning. Even when it feels like they aren’t. Even when you spent a whole day binging episodes of Steven Universe instead of working on math facts.
Sometimes your well-planned day goes out the window because of illness or a household emergency. But have no fear, learning happens with or without planning. So be proud of the time you have devoted to this. You are doing an amazing job with your children! And best of all, you are giving them memories of a parent who cared so much that they took on the tremendous responsibility of teaching them at home.
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 18 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.