Oh 2020…it was a year like no other. I NEVER in a million years thought I would be living through a pandemic much less voluntarily homeschooling my children through one!
Choosing to Homeschool During COVID
So, like many parents, I was worried about the health, safety, and sanity of my kids last year. With schools in constant flux, I knew I didn’t want to send my kids to public school during a time where an unknown disease was spreading across the world at an alarming rate.
The whole first half of 2020 was spent trying to figure out if it was even safe for us to leave the house. Visions of entire countries on lockdown engulfed the national headlines, mobile morgues were splashed across the local nightly news, schools were shuttered with kids sent home to figure out virtual learning. It was chaos and nobody knew what to believe.
I was terrified because we had no idea what this thing called COVID was, we had no idea how it spread, we had no idea what devastation and destruction it would bring. But, I knew I didn’t want my kids feeling the fear and uncertainty that I was feeling.
My heart ached for my children who just wanted to see their friends and were constantly growing more and more frustrated with virtual learning. Their world was falling apart and there was little I could do.
It got to a point where my son was falling behind in class because he was so frustrated with the constantly changing landscape- he just stopped putting forth the effort. I knew this was NOT working for our family and something had to change!
When summer ended and our school system still didn’t have a true game plan for providing stability for our kids, I knew it was time to look at other options.
Leaving the Public School System to Homeschool
I looked into the virtual options available but didn’t like the idea of my kids staring at a screen for 5-6 hours straight. I looked at private schools, hybrid schools, charter schools, and everything under the sun…but nothing felt like the right fit.
I wanted my kids to “have a normal life” and “feel safe” during a pandemic. So, I took the leap and decided to give homeschool a go.
I Am NOT a “Homeschool” Kind of Mom
I never imagined myself as a homeschool mom…I was the kind of mom that looked forward to the daily break so I could get things done around the house. I run my own business from home and would use the school hours to get my work done.
I would drop the kids off at school and go have brunch with friends. There was nothing better than hitting Target after drop-off, grabbing a Starbucks coffee, and perusing the aisles in quiet shopping bliss.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I also wasn’t one of those parents that believed the school was the answer to everything our children needed. I was the parent that was constantly taking the kids out of school for educational experiences. I have always said “kids learn more from going and doing than sitting at a desk”.
I know how important hands on experiences are, yet I had this bias opinion about what homeschool families were like.
My Own Experience with Homeschool
Before our journey into homeschool I had an entirely false idea of what it meant to “homeschool”. Because, ironically, I spent a year doing “homeschool” as a kid.
My junior year of high school, I convinced my mother to “homeschool” me because my best friend at the time was “homeschooling”. I put “homeschool” in quotations because my “homeschool” experience consisted of being home during school hours.
There wasn’t much “school” happening. My parents were going through a divorce and really didn’t pay much attention to what I was up to. Basically, I spent my time watching daytime tv, working part time, and reading magazines.
This was the mid 90s so the internet was just getting started and there wasn’t the plethora of resources like there are today. The Facebook groups helping guide new homeschool parents didn’t exist, homeschool curriculums weren’t something you could just pick up at the local Walmart, there was no such thing as Amazon to check reviews of different curriculums, etc. Basically, if you wanted to homeschool in the 90s you went to the library and put it together yourself.
One month before the beginning of my senior year, I decided I wanted to go back to public school because I didn’t want a GED. I headed to the library, checked out books for each subject, and crammed all of 11th grade into 3 weeks of actual homeschooling. The school just accepted my transcripts without batting an eye and I thought this was how homeschool was done.
My Ignorance of Homeschool Life
I was one of “those moms” that would hear about a child being homeschooled and think “how sad, they’re not getting the socialization that school provides”. I was ignorant when it came to homeschool. I was biased when it came to homeschool. And, I knew without a shadow of doubt “I am DEFINITELY NOT a homeschool mom”!
I thought people who did homeschool fell into two groups…the ones who were bible thumping religious zealots who didn’t want their children exposed to the reality of the world or those who didn’t care about school and did it to be friends with their kids.
Boy was I wrong!
Learning What Homeschool Is Really About
Once I dove into the idea of homeschooling my kids I was overwhelmed with all the resources available.
I was shocked at how vastly different homeschooling actually is compared to what I thought it was. I was in complete disbelief that the process of homeschooling actually fits with my parenting style and learning ideals better than anything I could have imagined.
Homeschool isn’t about sheltering your kids, it’s about giving them opportunities that public school isn’t able to give them. The amazing thing about homeschool is that YOU decide HOW, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, WHEN to teach your kids and THEY get a voice in this decision as well.
My 3rd grade son went from being behind at the end of 2nd grade to scoring at a 5th grade level after our first year homeschooling. And, that was during a pandemic year where we were limited on extracurriculars and field trips.
He advanced 2 grade levels in a single year where I switched curriculums at least 3 times and had no idea what I was doing. My son flourished doing homeschool because we just kept moving forward.
How to Decide If YOU Should Homeschool
To be honest, only YOU can decide what’s right for YOUR family. I get lots of flack from my family and friends about homeschooling my kids. Many of them have the same misconceptions about homeschool that I used to have.
The thing is, you need to tune out all of their negativity and choose what’s right for you and your child.
If you’re on the fence, I can completely understand. It’s a monumental task to take on as a parent, but it shouldn’t scare you away from giving it a go. In fact, I’ve written a post on Tips I Wish I Knew Before Starting Homeschool and How to Know if Homeschool is Right for you.