When the 2020-2021 school year was upon us, I was nervous. Just as nervous as my kindergarten-bound 5 year old. Other mother’s knew what they were going to do, and needed to do. I was still weighing the options. And it weighed on me. There were many nights that I would lay awake and wonder what the right thing to do was.
My husband and I decided that our little girl, Emily, would start the school year in virtual learning. When the first trimester was over, we would make the decision whether to stay virtual learning or start in-person learning. Emily was nervous about her first day, but she was comforted by being home with me.
Through the first month and half of virtual learning, I sat by and watched as Emily learned. Her teacher was amazing; her head was constantly on a swivel, teaching both in person and virtually. She essentially had to teach two classes at once, and I give her so much credit for that.
While Emily’s teacher did an amazing job, the system that our school district had set up was less than stellar. Emily would sign in every morning to see her teacher, do morning meeting, and then have a break. The rest of the day was split up between virtual time with her teacher, and doing school work on her own (with me). When I added up the time, she was with her teacher for an average of an hour and a half per day. While I know this was all new territory for the school department, this just wasn’t ideal for my little girl.
Emily is now 6 years old. She loves running around and being active. Doing artwork and playing with her toys are two of her favorite indoor activities. She does dance and plays soccer. Sitting in front of a computer for as long as they were asking of her each day was wearing her down. She started the school year being nervous, but excited about being in kindergarten. Less than a month later, she didn’t want to attend at all.
Time to Make a Change
A new decision had to be made. I took some time and really thought about it. Did I want to make this move? Could I do it? I talked about it with my husband. And we decided it was the best thing for her. In-person learning wasn’t an option with Covid-19 running rampant, and distance learning was just not working either. So we decided on our last option, which was also the best option. Homeschooling.
Emily started homeschooling with me at the beginning of November. Through our new homeschool school year, she would learn and be happy with learning. It was wonderful to watch her learn. Reading. Figuring out math problems. Watching her writing develop. It has been a wonderful and trying experience to watch her learn.
But homeschooling has taught me a few things as well.
When I started homeschooling Emily, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. We’d sit at the table. Go over some school work. Then she’d have the day to have fun. Boy was I wrong!
Routine is Key
I got our days into a schedule. I figured out that she needed more of a schedule than I had originally planned. At the beginning, Emily would plan out how the school day was going to go. When I noticed that she always put the same subjects in the same order, it became our routine. And she really liked it.
The first thing I learned when it comes to school is that Emily thrives on routine. I always knew that she hated change, but I never knew how much routine would mean to her. Going over our day together and telling her what she was going to learn that day made her so excited to learn. For Emily, routine = good thing.
Kids Need to Socialize
The 2020-2021 school year was a hard year for homeschooling. Being a homeschool kid could be really wonderful, if you can get involved in co-op groups. Working with other homeschool families, setting up field trips and events together. Being around others who are doing the same as you. But this school year, there was none of that in sight. One of Emily’s best friends, Maddie, was also homeschooled this year. We thought we would get the girls together once a week, at least, to do school stuff and fun stuff, but we didn’t.
The second thing I learned is if you’re going to homeschool your children make sure that you have a social outlet for them. Emily ended up having virtual play dates with Maddie at least 3 times a week. It helped to give her some form of social interaction she would have normally been getting in school.
Parents Need Time Alone
When I decided to homeschool, I knew I was giving up a lot to be home with Emily. And I wouldn’t trade the time I have had with her. But there was a lot of “me time” that went right out the window. Before the pandemic, and during the summer 2020, I was working part-time. A couple of days a week that I could be around other adults, and do something where I felt useful. I also had days where I was home alone. My husband was working and Emily was in daycare/preschool. I would do things I enjoyed and still get housework done. And then the pandemic changed everything.
The third thing I learned, I need some time to myself. Either being out by myself or having the house completely empty and to myself. I need that time to recharge my batteries. Without it, I am just burnt out. Emily is with me all of the time, 24/7. Since I’m a SAHM, my husband works a lot. He works VERY hard, but not having him around makes it hard for me to get a lot of things done. It seems like one thing runs into the next. I’m doing what I need to get by during the day, but that’s it. There is no time for extra. Housework … the bare minimum is done. Laundry … done when absolutely needed. So if I were to do this again, I would make sure that I could get that time to myself. I would work that into the schedule.
We Can Do It
The fourth and last thing I’ll say is that homeschooling has taught me is that I am stronger than I thought I was. It takes a lot of strength and willpower to homeschool a small child. Teaching Emily the basics she’ll need for her whole education. There were so many times that I didn’t know how I would get through it. But then I would see things click with Emily and it was all worth it. Seeing Emily understand and really know what I am teaching her completely out weighs the stress and hard work on my end. I didn’t know that I could do this, but I did. And it has been so worth it.
My Final Thoughts
There were four big things that homeschooling taught me. Some children really need the routine of school; Emily being one of them. Make sure your child has a social outlet; children need the companionship of other children. Even though homeschooling is so rewarding, you still need time for yourself. Your whole life can’t just be about educating your child. And, you are stronger than you may think. Homeschooling takes a lot of persistence and hard work. You may have moments of doubt, but you can do it.
If you’re considering homeschooling your child, I hope reading about what I did helps you. In the end just know … you got this!