Many people are planning their first year homeschooling for the 2020/2021 school year. The uncertainty of schooling around the pandemic is definitely a major contributing factor. Opinions on homeschooling are vast. A quick google search will produce more sources supporting any argument about any facet of homeschooling than one could possibly digest. From curriculum choices, to how many hours are needed for schooling, to whether one should homeschool at all, everyone has an opinion and is willing to share it.
One thing that everyone seems to agree on, however, is that the socially dubbed “crisis schooling” is not the same as homeschooling. So, you might be wondering, what does a typical homeschool day look like? What can new homeschooling families expect this lifestyle to look like? While the possibilities are truly endless, there are a few major expectation reality checks that I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years.
The Perfect Homeschool
Those classic Norman Rockwell perfect family images don’t live in homeschool homes. If you have an idyllic image in your mind of your kids sitting close together eagerly listening to every word as you read a great literary classic, this is your reality check. Do read aloud and do it often. However, it’s more likely that you put Sally on the couch, Junior on the floor and Sam in the chair that you’ve pulled into the room as far away from the others as possible. Yes, they’ll likely be 6 feet apart. Social distancing is not just for viruses. It also prevents Sally and Junior getting into a “who can poke the other with their big toenail” contest and it just might keep Sam from scoffing under his breath every 17 seconds about how loud the other two breathe.
All names have been changed in this story, but honestly it’s very true. These moments I don’t think of as homeschool struggles, but rather they are parenting struggles. They are the same behavior challenges you have to conquer whether you homeschool or not. Sometimes homeschooling pulls up front and center a little more of that behavior just because there’s a lot more time for it and more opportunity for pushback. You’ll get through it. At least, that’s what they tell me.
I’m going for honesty, here. I don’t have any images of my kids in meltdown mode to share. Otherwise, I’d put one of those right here. Because, it does happen.
Learning How to Learn
Your kids will learn, and they will soak up so much. But, it is not all going to be easy. Some of it is going to be hard, hard. You’ll feel like you’re climbing day after day after day. Digging in and it’s not clicking. Then one day, BOOM. You get that paragraph with a beautiful topic sentence and you didn’t even have to remind him. You work together on division problem after problem, games, practice, all of it. And then one day, “This division is easy, Mom.”
Learning is a process, and while kids will soak up some material overnight, it is likely not going to be everything they need to learn. Plus, let’s not forget the value of learning how to learn and learning how to struggle and persevere. Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, you have the privilege of guiding these kids through that.
Prepare yourself for adjusting your curriculum schedule. It does not mean that you’re doing something wrong. On the other hand, if that “Aha!” moment doesn’t come, don’t be afraid to put your plans on hold, grab some review materials and reassess the situation.
Homeschooling and Socializing
The hot button homeschool topic: socializing. If you are imagining your kids will be sitting around your kitchen table all day filling out worksheets and typing essays while staring out the window into a gloomy, dreary abyss of loneliness, think again. There are more classes, activities and organized homeschool experiences in Greenville than any one family could possibly participate in over a lifetime of homeschooling. You want your child in band? There’s one at Converse. Dance? You’ve got your pick of studios. Need some math help? There are tutors, learning centers and camps for that. Is your child interested in coding? Got that, too. Need more friends? Don’t forget about the field trip groups, social media groups, co-ops and play groups. Homeschool moms are not just teachers, they are chauffeurs and social calendar managers. Though, I think that’s part of every mom’s hat.
If you don’t want to be home, you won’t be. I saw a shirt once that said “Why do they call it homeschooling if we’re always in the van?” So, true. I should have bought it. I’d wear it every day. Overloading your schedules is a real risk. Pick your priorities, don’t start out putting Sally in 4 activities and still think she’ll have time to complete that workload in her planner. If there’s one thing this pandemic experience has taught me is that I overloaded.
If you feel overwhelmed cut back or look at your schedule and see what can be rearranged. A relaxed scheduled does not mean less rigor. Kids won’t learn very well if you’re hurrying them through their math lesson so you can get out the door for the week’s 13th extracurricular activity. That said, audiobooks are a great way to squeeze in more literature, history and biographies while you’re buzzing around town in that homeschooling mini-van.
The Homeschooling Lifestyle
New homeschoolers may have the idea that school happens between 8 am and 2:35 pm Monday through Friday. It sure can. But, if you don’t already, you’ll begin to notice so many teachable moments and opportunities to learn. Don’t pass them up. I used to have a college professor who said “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” Learning happens all the time. When you homeschool you can count that evening diversion into why the oil and vinegar in your salad dressing at dinner keeps separating. I bet when they get to density in their science textbook, they’ll remember.
After dinner is also a great time to share book reports, a science poster, project or even just a fun or educational family game. Or, maybe you need that after dinner time for Sam to sit down with Dad and finish his math because instead of doing it during the day he was drawing doodles all over the margins and flicking bits of paper into the air. You know, it’s possible.
Homeschooling is Not Crisis Schooling
If all this sounds different than what you have experienced during this crisis schooling time when schools shut down, you are absolutely correct. You are the teacher now. You make the decisions about what your child learns, when they learn it, how they learn it, why they are learning it, and the responsibility for them learning it is ultimately yours. This is a big change from crisis schooling when someone else decided what they would be learning and in some cases when and how they learned it.
Help for Homeschoolers in Greenville, SC
Greenville, SC is home to a very large homeschool community. The state of South Carolina also has a lot of homeschoolers. As I said before, there are an enormous amount of local opportunities for homeschoolers. The same local businesses that provide homework help for public school kids, are also there for homeschoolers, plus you have co-ops and classes for anything you don’t feel comfortable teaching.
Here are some places where you can find resources, classes and tips for getting started homeschooling in Greenille:
- Getting Started Homeschooling in South Carolina: FAQ
- Homeschooling Mom Panel Video about how to Homeschool in South Carolina
- Homeschooling in Greenville Guide: Includes resources, classes, activities and more.
Are you a homeschooling family? Do you have advice to share for new homeschoolers? Let us know in the comments.