In response to my recent post on our experience with homeschooling, I’m dedicating a couple more posts to that topic.
Even though I finished my 21-year stint with homeschooling 10 years ago, I still have exposure to it with my grandchildren. And, wow, have the options and support changed over the years. So many types of homeschooling curricula are available, which allows you to personalize your approach according to your personality and that of your child. Homeschool support groups and cooperative schools are an invaluable addition to the homeschooling experience.
There were so very many benefits to our family as a result of homeschooling, and as I look back on our years, I smile. We made so many treasured memories, created such amazing relationships between each and every member of our family, and in general, just had fun learning and growing together.
But today I want to address a few of the challenges you may experience as a homeschooler. While individual experiences may differ, there are a few that seem to be relatively common among fellow homeschoolers. Here were my biggest challenges and how I dealt with them.
- Feeling inadequate. How could I teach my children a subject that I struggled with when I was in school? I just had to re-learn it along with my children! I believe that curricula is far superior today than it was when I went to school. Even Algebra has been made into easy step-by-step lessons by Saxon Math and allows for constant review of the material all year long. Although the principles are taught in a different way than when I was in school, they can be easily learned along with your child. And with multiple children, you are only having to learn the curriculum with the eldest child. Yes, homeschooling the second, third, fourth, and even fifth gets easier and easier. Now, when it came to Chemistry…I chose to send my children to the area community college for that course due to all the supplies needed—or so I told others!
In general, homeschooling is a tutoring situation that allows the teacher to individualize the teaching according to the learning style of the student. It also provides constant feedback on whether the child is understanding a concept or not. Knowing your child, what will motivate him (and what will be a consequence for him), puts Mom in a position to be a great teacher even if she doesn’t have a degree in education.
Feeling respected by my children as teacher, even though Mom. Naturally, this can be an issue with any of your children at different points during the homeschooling years. I tended to like a bit of structure at Andersen Educational Center, so when one of my students was having a more difficult time with seeing me as a teacher, he then was asked to address me as “Mrs. Andersen” for the day. Yes, this truly helped his attitude!
Feeling I couldn’t keep up with household chores. This actually created another benefit of homeschooling. There was no way to keep up on everything that needed done. So, the best option was to involve my children in the household responsibilities. That had benefit for me, but also for them because it included so many life skills that they needed to run their own households later as adults. When my children were only preschoolers, I made the decision to begin training them to clean sinks, wash floors, manage money, and fold their own laundry. We were known to have laundry-folding parties over the noon hour where each child was to grab their laundry from the pile, fold it, then put it away. Although they may not have enjoyed their added responsibilities, this was just part of being a homeschool family.
Feeling the stress of home management. As a mom, I felt I lived and worked in the same space. So while I was homeschooling, I was seeing or thinking of tasks that needed to be done. If I could just run to the laundry room and put that wash in the dryer, or get those dirty dishes loaded in the dishwasher. Maybe I could slip away and make that phone call. But alas, with a classroom of 5 students, momentum could easily be lost if the teacher left the room. What worked for me was to focus on schooling during certain hours and focus on home at other times. A morning recess, lunchtime, and afternoons when children were doing independent work or supplemental projects allowed me to catch up on things around the house.
Feeling my priorities were out of whack. When a mom is homeschooling, she is devoting a huge part of her life to her children. I often found that I needed to work in the evenings to be able to keep all the plates in the air spinning. Which meant I was often putting my husband lower on the totem pole than he should have been. This took a lot of honest communication and renewed effort to course correct—and correct again. But my children needed to see me prioritizing their dad and caring for him even though I had a lot on my plate.
Notice that all the above issues are addressed as “feelings.” They may or may not have been the reality, but because they seemed real to me, I needed to address them. I had many opportunities to get discouraged during those years, but I found that focusing on the successes and the huge benefits that homeschooling was producing in our family helped me to get over the hump and stay on track.
Question: What has been a solution for a homeschooling challenge you've faced? Share your answer in the comments below.