To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool. That is the question. We decided to go full-out homeschool. Let’s talk about the why’s, the hows, and the what’s.
My husband and I both had homeschooling experiences ourselves while at school. He started homeschooling in Grade 7, and eventually his parents started a homeschool academy that turned into a full private school with two campuses. My parents started to homeschool my youngest sibling when he started Grade 1, and they loved the curriculum and the freedom and the progress they saw, so they decided to homeschool us all. I had just started Grade 9 (also the last year you should probably start homeschool or start a complete new curriculum.) I absolutely flourished and I loved it.
Hubby and I were (ironically enough) on the same curriculum, ACE Curriculum, and because of that small detail, we were able to connect when we moved to South Africa later that year. (Begining of our love story!)
Making the Change
Right before our oldest started Grade 1 a few years ago, we really wanted to start homeschooling. We did all the research, contacted the correct people, and did everything we were supposed to, but still felt slightly unsure. It’s like, we knew this was what we wanted to do, but something didn’t feel quite right yet. We found out a little while later that I was expecting number 4. It would NOT have worked to start homeschooling with a sick one year old as well as pregnancy and then the newborn. We didn’t understand the reason why back then, but looking back, we are so grateful we didn’t start our homeschool journey when we wanted to. It would have been crazy and we probably would have given up before we even really gave it the chance it deserves.
This was still on our hearts, and at the start of 2020 we spoke about it again, and funny enough we felt that our transition to homeschooling won’t look like we expect it to. And we both felt that we would start at a weird time. (Not like complete a full academic year and then start the new year with homeschool.) When lockdown hit, initially we were still keeping the kids in school, but when lockdown was extended, we started reassessing our options and our new situation.
For the first time, homeschooling was the norm, and no one was asking the question, “What about the social?!”. We decided it was the right time to jump in completely and find our feet with the homeschool curriculum on it’s own without the pressures of social etc. This way we could see if the homeschool set up on its own would work for us as a family and our situation. So we withdrew our children.
Where to Start
I will do another separate blog post on the full how-to for parents who are also considering homeschooling, but let me tell you what we did.
First off, homeschooling has SO many different options and variations. If you are looking for a copy of what your child is doing currently at school, you might have to look a little harder. Homeschooling is not just school at home. It’s so much more. It looks at your child as a whole and meets him or her where they are at.
In deciding which direction you want to go with homeschooling, you need to start by writing down your ideal design of school for your child. We decided we want an international curriculum, so we are free to travel and still meet educational requirements with minimal changes. We also did not want books that we had to order and wait for (our postal services aren’t known for their reliability), and would block our children in. But at the same time we also knew doing online classes wouldn’t work with four kids who all needed screens and me to assist. We wanted a self-paced curriculum that would follow my child’s speed. (Self paced learning is defined as a learning method in which the learner is able to control the amount of material they consume as well the duration of time they need to learn the new information properly.)
Sounds way too complicated or over-ambitious? It’s not.
Once we knew what we wanted, we could start narrowing our research. And found so many options for what we wanted. Obviously they all have different costs involved, but you will find one that suits your budget. (Even if your budget is 0, as there are many free options also.)
Homeschool, they said. It’ll Be Easy, they said.
I honestly believed that because we are so fully invested in this, and because we both were homeschooled for part of our school-career, that it would be easy and that we will find our beautiful new rhythm quickly.
Unfortunately, no one gave our children that memo.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that it wasn’t fun. Or that it was so terrible either. But it’s new for our children. It’s a new system for us as parents (aka now new teachers). It is a lot of adapting. It’s a lot of unlearning the ways and the systems you had in place. It’s filled with feeling judged about whether you’re doing enough. And especially when they get to a point where they struggle with something. Do not give up too quickly. It won’t all fall into place in 2 or three months for everyone. We are still figuring it out 6 months down the line.
But realizing that your children will struggle with certain concepts at home or at school, and they will hate certain things/subjects and love others, and that is completely normal. They are more likely to be sassy or even downright rude to their new homeschool teacher than their previous school teacher. And there’s no “principal’s office.” It can get seriously hard some times. Nothing is the same. And it shouldn’t be. If we wanted the same, we would have kept them in public school.
Bottomline; we wanted to create a life for our family that suited us. This is one of the ways we chose to do that. The freedom homeschooling provides us, is more valuable than any of the problems we’ve encountered so far. We are able to make a snowday into a school trip. Or visit museums or attend a soap-making class as a family as we learn something new. Mid-week visits to friends on a farm becomes easier as we just pack up our “school” or pack out somewhere else.
My best advice would be to connect with other homeschool parents as soon as possible. Their advice and support and experience has been beyond valuable, and has helped me through some sticky situations. So if this is something you’re interested in doing with and for your family, do your research, commit to changing your lifestyle and mindset, and DON’T GIVE UP TOO QUICKLY. It’s so worth it.
Side note: We are using Schoolhouse Teachers as our chosen curriculum for our children. This is not a sponsored post. We really recommend using it as it can be used as a full curriculum or as a supplemental resource to whatever curriculum you are using. And it’s one once-off fee for the whole family, not per child.