I started homeschooling before I had kids. I know, it sounds backwards! But, when we were dating, my (now) husband asked if I’d be willing to homeschool. He had been homeschooled for much of his educational years, and had good memories of it (kudos to my mother-in-law!). I had done all of it; homeschool, public, and private schools, and felt like I knew the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. Honestly, no matter what you try to do, there’s always going to be some gaps, something wanting, and that’s okay! None of us have it perfect-and none of us need it perfect, since we ought to always be learning!
Anyway, I always expected to at least try it out, and we had both agreed that we would pivot, as necessary, as it came up.
I started to homeschool my oldest in pre-K. Seriously, the system can get confusing if you only remember kindergarten as a child of the 80’s. Now there’s at least two levels of preschool. Well, we made it through, and found ourselves in a hybrid school. A full-time private Christian classical school was starting a two-day program, and we’ve been in it one way or another ever since. We’ve been with their teachers through thick and thin. They’ve been wonderful, and I can’t recommend hybrid options highly enough. I feel like it really gives me the balance of my own autonomy and some oversight and experienced help (as well as another authority figure in the kids’ lives). If you’ve never looked into it before, take a look in your area!
Nowadays, I juggle three kids; last year (I’m writing this mid-summer) I had a 4th , 1st , and 3 year-old preschooler. I’m so thankful for the video portions of our hybrid school! My typical morning has one kid listening to one of those teacher videos (8 to 15 minutes, usually) or their bookwork, while I’m bouncing back and forth between the needs of the littlest one and the other kid, teaching them, interacting, or answering questions. Having more than one kid means juggling!
You might be wondering if it’s all smooth sailing. It’s not. It’s not, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. Right now, my space is here. Just because something isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t the best choice to make.
I remember one time, my middle one—I was struggling with the best way to help him through his school day. One of my biggest challenges has been realizing that homeschool isn’t cookie cutter; what worked for my oldest might be the boring-est thing ever to my next one! Anyway, I’m not sure what made me think of it-maybe a throwback to when they were babies? You know how you can take a baby out in fresh air, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll calm down? Well, we just went out the front door onto our front deck and sat together. In silence, mostly. Talking a little bit about what we saw. That decision to stop and pause in our day together turned into one of the best decisions!
Turns out, that’s one of our tricks when either of us is overwhelmed, nowadays. I found out that I love to observe the rain dropping (we live in the pacific northwest, it’s always dripping or threatening to!) down the edges of the house; the shape of the leaves; the color of the sky. I found out that slowing down and just-being- filled both our souls back up, to go back in and get the rest of the day’s work done.
So, maybe like me, you need to remind yourself what to do when things seem—too quick. And maybe you’ll have a kid or even someone else in your life that just needs that non-people, non-stimulating space. It could be a useful tip you’ll want to have in your memory!
I’m really looking forward to this year. Every year, I feel a little bit more comfortable with
homeschooling. A little more confident in my abilities as a teacher, organizer, planner, grader, and lunchmaker. Every year I build on what I learned before. And you know what? So do they! I guess if they are in homeschool, really, so am I!
Maybe you’re reading this and you want to try homeschooling. Maybe you’re just interested and it’s not the season for you yet. Regardless, I hope this helps you to feel more comfortable with where you and your family are at and where you are going. If you’re even reading this at all (and thank you kindly for staying till the end!), you have a desire, I believe, to glean all the useful nuggets you can because you want what’s best for your loved ones. You’ll find it. It may take a few twists and turns, but it’s so rich to be able to spend these long days and quick years investing in your kids’ educational (and, by extension, emotional and social) development! You can do it!
To read more of Joanna’s work, visit her website “Home Life Purpose“.