The year 2020 has wrecked havoc on the whole society, but none more so than public school kids and their parents. In the spring they found themselves thrust into doing school at home, away from everything they knew. This also gave parents who were considering homeschooling a test drive without the legalities of actually withdrawing their children.
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Now, it's the start of a new school year. Some public schools are going back in a mish-mash of at-school / virtual learning / hybrid concoctions that confuse even homeschoolers who don't have a child in the school. As someone who's in a couple of homeschooling groups for her state, I've seen the number of people in the group jump over the last six months as people who have kids in virtual public school think they're "homeschooling."
No. Virtual public school is not homeschooling. There are many differences between homeschool and virtual public school (done at home) -- and they are not alike.
Parents do not choose the curriculum for their kids in virtual public school. It's what is assigned by a teacher. With parents now aware of what is being taught in public schools, or told to not listen in, or buy their children earbuds so only they can hear what's being taught -- more and more parents are calling foul.
With true homeschool, parents choose what their children learn. Many parents, especially with middle and high school kids, talk with their children on subjects they want to learn. I asked my fifth grade daughter what she wanted to learn about in science this year, and she chose astronomy. She would not have had that choice in public school.
Public schools' curriculum is dictated by a standard course of study by each state's Department of Education. This curriculum is often heavily influenced by politics, social justice, and causes that are not necessarily good things. Often, these curricula have a great deal to do with sex education and come with the inability for parents to opt-out their children, if the curriculum goes against the parents' worldview.
In homeschool, parents set the standards of what their children learn. They choose the curriculum, based on their worldviews and what they want to teach their kids. Often, in homeschool, kids are exposed to a wide range of philosophies that they can compare and contrast. Many public school systems, especially in more liberal states, have teachers and curriculums that are taught to the kids that emphasize one philosophy or religion over another and downplays the largest religion in the world. For example, some school systems encourage kids to learn about Islam but not Christianity, eliminating teaching whole thought.
While browsing in a homeschooling group I'm in for my state, I saw a post by someone who made the comment they're homeschooling now until schools reopen like they were in the past, so their kids can go to normal school. While I get what this person was saying, it sound awfully disparaging. My daughter has learned more in the last three and a half years of homeschool than she did in the two and a half years she spent in public school, simply because the curriculum was taught in ways that she learns best. Our homeschool is best for her, but it is not inferior to an education she would receive if she were in public school. In fact, based on what she learns -- cursive writing, grammar, how to write paragraphs, Bible, math that makes sense -- her education, I believe, is superior to that of kids her own age and grade level.
For my daughter, getting up at seven o'clock and rushing to eat breakfast, get dressed, drive to school, then do all the school things was incredibly stressful. All that, plus the anxiety that came with being bullied due to having dyslexia, was just too much for her. She has chronic migraines, diagnosed at four years old, and she would have upwards of 15 migraines a month while she was in a public school setting.
Since she's been in homeschool, she gets up between eight and nine in the morning, has breakfast and takes her meds, then eases into the school day with Morning Basket time. During Morning Basket, we cuddle on the couch and I read pages from two books: Bible Stories for Courageous Girls and The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child. Easing into the day by reading these books that encourage her in her faith and tell a story about the period of history she's studying reinforces key concepts and starts the day off on the right foot.
Since we've been homeschooling and incorporating relaxed themes, she has had maybe five migraines in three years. Eliminating stressors have helped her anxiety a great deal.
Homeschooling on our schedule enables us to incorporate learning into family trips. My husband plays wheelchair basketball, and last year we had the opportunity to travel to Wichita, Kansas for the championship games. Along the way, we incorporated homeschool into the trip by spending time at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in Mansfield, Missouri; the Ulysses S. Grant Home and the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; and walking along the Mississippi River. We listened to Little House series on audio books all the way there, and all the way back. Visiting the Wilder homestead and museum after listening to her books really made the artifacts in the museum come alive. We would not have had this amazing experience if we did not homeschool.
Kids in virtual public school spend about six to seven hours in front of the computer with instructional time. In the in-person school setting, they don't get that much instructional time on a good day. No wonder kids are fidgeting and their attention span is out the window! That much screen time isn't good for anyone.
For Laura, my daughter, 5th grade homeschool lasts about 3-4 hours at most. She does her book work, practices the ukulele, and we call it a day. A regular day in public school is filled with crowd control, walking to the library, art, cafeteria, recess, etc. There's so much time that's wasted on behavior modification that the teachers cannot possibly teach in the way that her students learn. When you homeschool, you can customize lessons for each child in the way he or she learns. You get the work done, learn it, and move on.
In the days before schools shut down, most students would only go on 3-4 field trips a year. We purposely plan our homeschool weeks to do academics Monday through Thursday, and leave Friday open for field trips. These field trips may entail going to a museum: I've planned such field trips to coincide on the curriculum. We visit exhibits that are curated to dovetail what Laura is learning in school.
These field trips may entail a trip to the library, or a park. They may be a visit to a national or state park that has some relevance to what we're studying. The point is, nearly every Friday we go on a field trip that supplements what she's learning in school. She could not possibly get that level of supplemental learning experiences in public school.
Don't Give Up
If you have chosen to homeschool instead of doing virtual public school, don't decide to send your kids into the same environment you removed them, just because it's hard. Homeschool is hard -- most things that are the most rewarding are difficult. Give it a couple years, make it your own, and watch your kids flourish. Homeschoolers can graduate high school, walk in graduation ceremonies, and go on to college -- and thrive doing so, often stand out with their abilities to reason and write. Don't give up! Don't say you're going to try this for six months and then put your kids back in public school, hoping "they won't be too far behind." Homeschool, done right, will put your kids further ahead than you could possibly dream -- if you, as the parents, are willing to do the work with your kids and stick to it.
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(C) 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I like a clean house. I don't like cleaning house. There's the conundrum. And there's absolutely nothing like homeschool (and blogging / vlogging about homeschool) to make one acutely aware of just how messy and cluttered one's home really is.
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Listen, I've sat on this blog post for months now. Knowing that it's extremely hypocritical of me, and also knowing my adult children (and my husband) will read this post and go, "Do whatI?"
So this is my promise to myself that if I write it and publish it, I will actually do it. [insert laugh track here]
I firmly believe in teaching life skills in homeschool. While there is a day dedicated to paying taxes along with all the paperwork required to do so, there is not a Mesopotamian Day. Maybe there should be, but there isn't. We still need to learn history, including the Fertile Crescent, but knowing how to do taxes is important -- along with how to properly load a dishwasher, do laundry, operate (and clean out) a vacuum cleaner, etc. So here's the thing, the secret and joyful part about teaching life skills: you teach them so you can get your students to do them, so you don't have to do all of them.
Little kids can easily clean up after themselves. Teach the "clean up song," use a timer, whatever you need to do, to get them to help clean up the homeschool area before dinner -- especially if your homeschool area is, like mine, also the dining area.
Teach tweens to do their own laundry, load and unload the dishwasher as well as hand-washing dishes, clean the bathroom, and other necessary jobs. Teens need to learn about filing taxes, completing employment applications, voting, and heavier household tasks like moving. Ironing clothes, using a laundromat, repairing things, sewing, and car repair are all things that teens need to learn to prepare them for life as an adult.
It helps me when I manage the house by utilizing a schedule. Sticking to it on the long-term is something that I have an issue with. Check that: it's an opportunity for growth. Yes, that's it.
Some people have set days for laundry in which they do all their laundry on that one day. My adult sons, who live out of the house, bring over their laundry to work on as they do some outside chores for me that I just cannot do. It's a good system. Since I have a washer and dryer at my beck and call, I usually do a load a day, to stay on top of it. Do what you need to do -- but teach your little ones how to do laundry, too: sorting, washing (hot, cold, warm, etc), drying, folding, and putting away.
I have found that soaking dishes, then running them on express wash in the dishwasher, is a quicker method than on normal, particularly when I have to do a load before dinner so we'll have dishes to eat on, or if there are a lot of dirty dishes. I use the express wash a lot, and have become a fan of it, actually. If I soak and do an initial swipe with the scrubber brush beforehand, the express cycle does a great job of washing and sanitizing them. I've taught my daughter (the only child left at home) to do this, too, so now she loads and unloads the dishwasher.
In my homeschool, we schedule breaks in between two to three subjects. During these breaks, I ask my daughter to do a small chore, say, unload the dishwasher, then she can take her break. Usually she'll use the bathroom, grab a snack, go outside, and maybe play a game on her tablet. That's all fine to do, as long as she comes back without grumbling to get some more academics done. This is a system that works well for us.
We use the weekends for project days -- either deep cleaning or maintenance chores. Every other week, on Saturday night before bed, I'll put special cleaner in the washing machine and let it run at night. This way, it doesn't use up precious daylight hours when we could be doing washing clothes. The same goes for the dishwasher. I remove the filter, clean it and remove all the debris, then put it back. I like to use this cleaner to clean the dishwasher, as it removes limescale, grease, buildup, and rust (and it's all natural).
I have found by taking a couple of days and deep-cleaning the house (and, by the way, if the kids help do this, I think it counts as homeschool as it's teaching lifeskills), then maintaining the cleanliness through the week, neither the house or myself get overwhelmed with it all.
You may be homeschooling one while having a little one on your hip or at your ankles. Homeschooling a child while having a baby or toddler is tough, but not impossible. Teaching the toddler, especially, that this is the time for brother or sister's school will acclimate him or her about school. Try to include the toddler as much as possible -- they might want to do "school" too. Try these tips:
Homeschooling, homemaking, and your sanity can coexist, but it requires working smarter, not harder. Make the appliances and tools work for you, not against you. Unless they're paying rent in the form of cold hard cash, kids need to be doing chores, as they live there, too.
Finally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a mental health day during the week, putting on some kid-friendly DVDs or streaming services, and letting the kids watch a movie or two while you get things in order in the kitchen, or do a general clean-up. Sometimes, friend, we just have to do that to help our own sanity.
(C) 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Homeschooling is more than moving school into your home: it is your opportunity to create a deeper relationship between learning and your child. When done well, teaching and learning becomes a constant guest that fits into your life instead of rudely interrupting it.
Homeschooling will definitely transform your day, but you have much more power over your schedule than you realize. Being creative and flexible with your school hours, days, and weeks, means having more freedom to make choices you might not have thought possible.
A Life of a Homeschooler is a Life in Flux
When the kids were all very small, consistency was the key to keeping us on task. We chose to hold school year round because it fit our needs. As the kids grew older, baseball became a summer occupation for my husband as a coach. We opened a wider stretch of weeks in the summer for a break. Eventually, we followed closely with the public school schedule when our older children first began attending college, as we didn’t want to miss out on the time that they were home with us for the summer.
We flexed our calendar schedule, but our hourly schedule has seen plenty of change too. With multiple children, we schooled in rounds. The younger children get up earlier, so we would begin with the subjects that they needed my hands-on instruction for. When they were excused for a break, the older kids had instruction time. We wrapped up the day with online math and personal reading time.
Last year, I worked away from home two days a week. We again switched back to year round school AND to a four day week. Because of my work schedule we chose to have school on Saturday mornings instead of a traditional “school” day. With homeschooling, it is your school; you decide when and how you will fulfill your state’s required minimum days of school.
With this flexibility parents find that homeschooling might be a more feasible option where they once thought it was impossible. With co-ops, play groups and activities you can still schedule outside activities with another family or share rides to help cover work schedule overlaps.
Thinking Outside of the Norm
Many parents I speak to are intimidated by homeschooling because of the perceived time commitment. Eight hours a day teaching seems like a daunting requirement for anyone, but especially for the person who has to make the same kids dinner and tell them to do their chores.
Homeschooling takes less hours than you think. A school day is not eight hours long. A school teacher’s workday is eight hours, this is to make up the American standard, 40 hour workweek. If you discount time trading classes, settling in, correcting students and reviewing material covered in the previous class, instructional time is less than 30 minutes on average. If the average school day has seven periods, that is roughly three and a half hours of hands on instructional time.
The four hour school day is not as hard to schedule for. At our house we do school from 10am to 2pm; this works for my schedule as a freelance writer. I work best in the early mornings, while the house is still quiet, but in other homeschools, the kids rise early and do any work that takes parental involvement in the morning hours. A parent can work in the afternoon from home while the children move into their own studies, electives, hobbies and chores. Some parents alternate teaching days with their spouse to fit their work schedules, single parents have created similar approaches to shared teaching times if they live where the state allows parents to teach an unrelated students.
Room to Explore and Be Creative
My public, high school class had over six hundred students. I was able to take one art class, it was the only class I looked forward to and I knew I was not going to have the opportunity to have another one. Homeschool students have the opportunity to explore topics that interest them.
I encourage parents to find ways to discover their children’s interests and make them creditable. Do they play a sport? Homeschooling gives the flexibility for offseason training. Do they love games, tech, photography or art? Classes are available in abundance through homeschool curriculum providers or in the same places I learned how to build a website and improve my blog; classes online.
Education is rapidly changing and adults are taking the reins of their skills and turning to sources outside of the traditional college network. Course creators and creative entrepreneurs are taking notice and creating tools to give those with skills a platform to teach. Our students can receive high school credit while under our supervision for learning any number of skills in and outside of “school” hours.
Creating a schedule that fits your life and the needs of your student will give you a homeschool experience that feels natural and compliments your family’s rhythms. With less stress and conflict, student work gets done and learning can begin to be fun again.
I started homeschooling my daughter when she started kindergarten, after homeschooling my oldest son, who has autism, the last semester of his senior year in public high school. Halfway into Laura’s kindergarten year, a tragic event stopped us cold in our tracks – my husband was shot and paralyzed in an attempted armed robbery.
As his caregiver, I felt (at the time) like I couldn’t give him 100% and homeschooling 100%, so Laura was enrolled in the local public school for the remainder of kindergarten, and for the next two years. A double-whammy diagnosis of dyslexia and ADHD, coupled with chronic migraines, re-opened our homeschool almost three years ago.
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Laura has thrived in homeschool for third and fourth grades. Yes, she could have done better on tests, but homeschool is where she thrives (and her migraines went from 15 a month in public school down to about four a year).
When I started homeschooling, I had tons of questions: curriculum? Dedicated homeschool space? Socialization? Do I follow my state’s course of study?
Because of recent events in our nation, there is an unprecedented rise in the number of homeschooling families. This post serves to answer some questions I had as a new homeschooler and provide some resources.
What about socialization?
With public schools’ mandated masks, six-feet-apart, have lunch and PE and specials in classrooms, not to mention library, the socialization question is now moot. If homeschoolers have other homeschooling friends over to play, do seatwork together, or work on joint projects, they will have more socialization than kids in public school. With my daughter, because she is with adults most of the day, she can carry on conversations with adults and kids alike with confidence. Don’t worry about this.
Dedicated homeschool space?
If you are blessed to have a space in your home that can be a dedicated homeschool space, by all means, go for it. I live in a three-bedroom, two-bath house where the “open concept” is alive and well, and the living room/dining area/kitchen are all open to one another. Now, the smallest bedroom doubles as a guest room/office, so I still don’t have a dedicated homeschool space, and continue to use the dining area.
The dining area is right off the kitchen (again, open floor plan) and I really like this. Laura can do seat work while I put something in the slow cooker for dinner, or wash dishes. I’m right there within earshot and sight line if she has a question or wants to talk through the lesson.
We have a small shelf in the dining area that holds this year’s curriculum so we don’t have to dig for it. We have another cabinet that holds resource books and things we don’t use all the time but still need to have handy. A chalkboard and dry erase board on the wall complete the ensemble. When we read books together, whether it’s literature, history, or science, we go to the sofa to read as it’s more comfortable and we can both read along in the same book. When we watch a YouTube video to explain a concept, we watch it from the sofa.
Our entire home is meant for learning – we have science experiments in the kitchen, large craft or art projects strewn on the living room floor, and the dining table is for seat work. This works for our family.
There are many choices for curriculum. You can do an all online curriculum, or buy printed, all-inclusive curriculum. You can do what I do and put together an eclectic curriculum based on your child’s needs and where they’re at academically. Or, you can do all three. The most important thing is to do what is best for your child, even if you have multiple children – each child is an individual with individual needs. Homeschooling is the ultimate individualized educational plan.
The beauty of homeschool is that you as the parent choose the course of study. You don't have to follow a set course of study from any state. With high school, if your child is interested in going to college, have him choose two or three colleges or universities that he's interested in applying to, and work with your teenager to develop a high school course of study based on those college/university requirements.
Budget is also a consideration. You can have a completely wonderful and acceptable homeschooling curriculum without spending a lot. Or anything. Just because someone buys a $500 curriculum doesn’t mean that any better – or worse – than someone who spends $20 on curriculum.
I like old-school textbooks that existed before common core was common. So, for the third year in a row, I have purchased some textbooks for my daughter on EBay. Her math, science, and English textbooks for 5th grade have all been purchased, and I spent less than $20 on the entire lot.
For spelling, I find spelling lists for her grade level on Pinterest, and create activities for them. A good dictionary book (not the Internet) provides definitions which she writes down. For cursive writing and spelling practice, I use this website to create cursive writing worksheets that are her spelling words. I use this website to create word finds and crossword puzzles. Playing board and card games and Hangman using her spelling words helps her learn them, too.
Laura will have some new subjects this coming year, such as Spanish. I utilize Schoolhouse Teachers for her Spanish class, and as supplemental material on other subjects such as history, unit studies, and grammar. Schoolhouse Teachers is wonderful because they mail a quarterly magazine, included with your membership, about homeschooling that is rich with ideas and encouragement.
For set curricula, I like to buy from a website where I can browse and read about each product, such as Christianbook.com. For some subjects or as supplemental material, I use Evan-Moor workbooks which are an incredible resource for all grade levels.
When Laura reaches high school levels, I’ll use 7 Sisters Homeschool, which has no-busy-work curricula and is all PDF based. They host a wide variety of subjects written by veteran homeschooling moms.
As you can gather from my daughter’s diagnoses, special needs is a thing in our house. Actually, all four of my children have special needs, though the three oldest are adults and have moved on to their own houses (and, one got married!). It can be downright exhausting to parent special needs children, let alone homeschool them.
I have found that my daughter thrives at home, where there is less stress and zero bullying. Still, parents who are homeschooling children with special needs require encouragement and inspiration. That is why, with the Lord’s incredible help, I’ve developed the Homeschooling Special Needs Online Conference, the first of its kind in the nation. Featuring over 20 speakers presenting over 30 sessions on homeschooling special needs, including the incredible Temple Grandin in a keynote. The conference boasts all pre-recorded videos for your convenience, and lifetime access to boot, for just $22. For more information, click here. To register, click here.
In public school, kids have “specials” – library, PE, music, art. Homeschoolers have these things, too. We go to the public library once a week, Laura is constantly making art projects that tie into what she’s learning in history or science, and she goes outside to play, and play hard, for PE. We’ve also been known to incorporate health lessons in “physical education.” She also learns life skills, such as doing her own laundry, cooking (she loves making eggs for her own breakfast in the morning), and baking. Just today she finally (!!!) chose an instrument to learn, as we told her she needed to choose one for the fifth grade. She chose the ukulele!
For attendance, we use the AppleCore online attendance that is a perk of membership with Schoolhouse Teachers. When Laura starts ninth grade, it will be used to house her grades, too. The AppleCore program then takes her grades and generates an official high school transcript. I tell you, the annual membership for Schoolhouse Teachers is one of my most favorite -- and utilized -- resources.
Homeschooling can be a delightful time, if you relax and allow learning to happen, at any time. For us, homeschooling is not between the hours of 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. It is 24 hours a day. We focus less on education and more on learning. Every experience can be a learning experience, and that is the attitude we choose to adopt.
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I wish you all the best!
© 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Homeschooling is the ultimate individualized educational plan for children with -- or without -- special needs. You're not bound by any restraints on time or subjects so the child can move at his or her pace -- actually learning, not regurgitating facts quickly forgotten.
There is a problem with homeschooling special needs children, tweens, and teens, and that is a lack of assistance and encouragement. Parenting a child with special needs is hard enough; homeschooling a child with special needs can be unmercifully brutal. Homeschooling parents of special needs children need to be encouraged and inspired and know they are not alone.
When my oldest son was in the middle of his senior year in public school, in the special needs department because of autism and bipolar disorder, he had some pretty severe behavior issues that were directly related to being bullied. While I didn't officially homeschool him (as in, withdraw and make a homeschool), I did facilitate home-bound studies and teach him much more than was required -- it was my first foray into homeschooling. He walked at graduation that June and received an occupational certificate of completion.
Now, I teach my youngest daughter in our [official] homeschool. She has dyslexia, chronic migraines, and ADHD. Irregardless of the specific special needs, it's impossible to find a homeschool conference dedicated to teaching special needs of all kinds.
As a mom with four special needs children, who is a homeschooler and a homeschool blogger, I am ecstatic to announce the Homeschooling Special Needs Online Conference. My nine years' worth of event planning has helped me recruit giants in the homeschooling blogging community and special needs advocates such as the renowned Dr. Temple Grandin.
I know, full well, that parents of special needs kiddos have a very difficult time going to in-person conferences -- that's why it's online. I also know that live online conferences are hard, too, because you have to be committed to sit at the computer and watch live sessions. Special needs parents don't have time for that. All the sessions for the Homeschooling Special Needs Online Conference are pre-recorded, so you can pause, help a child, go to the bathroom, and not miss anything.
The conference brings participants over 19 speakers with over 30 sessions on encouraging and inspiring homeschooling parents of special needs children, tweens, and teens. A few sessions include:
I am so excited to announce the keynotes of the conference. Not only is Durenda Wilson sharing her wisdom in the keynote "Unhurried Homeschooling: Why We Need to Slow Down," and Lee Felix of Like Minded Musings is speaking on "3 Keys to Parenting the Heart of Your Special Needs Child," and Carol Anne Swett of Homeschool Answer Mom is speaking on staying the course and overcoming doubt during your special needs homeschooling journey in her keynote "Homeschooling When You Can't See The Finish Line," but renowned autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin will be sharing her thoughts on teaching special needs children of all ages in a conversation she had with me.
I am so honored to have these incredible men and women -- giants in the homeschool blogging world and special needs advocates -- join me for this first-ever Homeschooling Special Needs Online Conference. Participants will receive lifetime access for the sessions, plus a digital swag bag of coupons, printables, and freebies from speakers and sponsors. In addition, participants will have access to a social media group for interaction and community-building, because, you are not alone.
Sponsors of the conference are Homeschooling One Child, BJU Press Homeschool, True North Homeschool Academy, Powerline Productions, and HSLDA.
This conference is just $22. For just $22 you as a homeschooling parent of a special needs child can be encouraged and inspired to keep on homeschooling your precious gifts -- your children. The conference goes live on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, so don't delay! To register for this incredible conference, click here today.
It's been one of those days: Laura didn't want to write spelling definitions, she wanted to write them three times each.
She didn't want to read science, she wanted to do a lab instead. She didn't want to...fill in the blank. We've all experienced days in which homeschool was just...well, hard. Gone were the visions of happy children around a table, merrily notebooking with lab books and unit studies...no, in our house, Laura's whining about the injustice of learning decimals while the bushy-tailed cat jumps on the dining/homeschool table, scattering worksheets and thoughts all over the floor.
The distractions of social media are ever present, plus the absurdity of having to make yet another meal that creates yet more dirty dishes...and there's curriculum for next year to think about, labs to plan, lessons to print....let's not forget that we need to formulate an intelligent response to that Harvard woman who wrote that homeschooling article, even though we'll never meet her or send the response in.
Boy! Homeschooling isn't for the weak!
Here's a thought, a deep one, so lean in close: sometimes, I lose myself in the tight-knit, wonderful, and delightful homeschool lifestyle and forget that it's downright difficult to teach my daughter. I get so wrapped up in the homeschool lifestyle that I forget about homeschooling.
It's a bit like marriage, really: we get so wrapped-up-in-love with the idea of marriage that we forget marriage is all about work. Marriage is hard work, but it is worth it. Same with homeschool: it's hard, productive work in which you get to see lightbulbs go off in your child's eyes as they understand concepts, and then they want to talk about them for hours.
A while back my husband, daughter, and I went to Ulysses S. Grant's house in St. Louis, Missouri, then a few weeks ago we were in a store, and she saw a book about him. Even though the book was on an adult reading level, her interest was piqued. It's a glorious thing to talk at length with your child about a historical figure, and have her hold her own in conversations.
We all have seasons in which we consider hanging up our laminator and calling it quits on homeschool. I think, though, that has more to do with us as parents than the kids. If we parents have some sort of deficit in our knowledge, we get anxious when it's time to teach that subject, so we say, "Oh, I couldn't possibly teach my kid Algebra, so we'll only teach through middle school, and she can go to public high school."
Or, we listen to our kids whine all day about missing their friends...listen, here's an unpopular thought: YOU are the parent. YOU know what is best for your child. If your child is missing his friends, by all means, let him hang out with his friends and make new ones at homeschool-related activities. But don't give up -- homeschool is a marathon, in which the prize is far off, but it will be there. It's not a 150m dash or a sprint down the street. No, it's a marathon that lasts years.
My daughter just turned 10 years old. She's in the fourth grade. My husband said to me, "We'll only have her eight more years!" Oh, how that frightened me. Only eight more years to teach her all that she needs to know in math, language arts, history, science....I couldn't be more wrong. We have eight more years to give her a solid foundation on which to build a love of learning that will be with her for the rest of her life, and that foundation is being built even now.
I want to encourage you--this hard homeschool season you're in is just that: a season. You can do it! If you need to take a day or two or a week off, do it. Take a mental health day. Explore curriculum catalogs with your child. Use your love of homeschool to inspire your family, especially your child. Clean off the dining / homeschool table, organize your homeschool spaces, and tackle what 's next.
If you do feel inadequate to teach, though, let me address that: you are not inadequate to teach your own child. That is a lie from the pit of hell. God gave YOU the children to raise, not someone else. You are not inadequate. All throughout school, I didn't so well at math, so it was drilled into me that I couldn't do math. Do you know that hurt me throughout college? I used every C, D, and failing grade I made as confirmation bricks in the wall of my personality. It was only when I started homeschooling Laura that I learned I could do math, because it was all in the way I taught her. I encouraged my daughter and told her that her worth is not based on math or science or reading ability, but who Jesus says she is: a child of God, a daughter of the Most High King, who is made in His image: smart, bright, inquisitive, and kind, among other adjectives.
You are not inadequate. You are the perfect person to teach your child, because God entrusted you to be his or her parent. God had no one else in mind other than you to raise and teach your child. If God has called you to homeschool, He will provide the resources, the knowledge, and the wisdom to do so. Trust Him. Trust yourself.
(C) 2020 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Being a mom is hard work. You have all the stuff to do, kids to manage, husband to take care of (admit, you do), and work inside or outside the home. Throw in homeschooling kiddos, and you have yourself a mama in bad need of a hot, uninterrupted bath and downtime.
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Shout-out to all the single moms out there, or married single moms -- those of us out there who are married, but because of deployment, disability, or what-have-you, have a ring on the finger that you're working to the bone.
Homeschooling moms are with their kids all.day.long. -- by choice, mind you, and they (we) wouldn't give it for anything. I love homeschooling my daughter and seeing the Dawn of Realization peek over the horizon of her mind when she gets an important concept. You can just see the lightbulb turn on. There's nothing like it in the world. Except, maybe, going to the bathroom by yourself. That's right up there, too.
And, let's face it: Valentine's is coming up and there are all sorts of Valentine's Day card packets with the obligatory two teacher's cards, but we don't ever see "Thanks for teaching me, mom!" cards...except here. ;) As International Homeschool Day is February 29, 2020, this card is a perfect way to show some appreciation.
I've found nine ways to encourage homeschool moms. These may be done by husbands, parents, kids, grandparents, neighbors, church friends--basically, anyone who wants to encourage a homeschooling mother you know.
1. Be mindful of the homeschooling day
Learn when a homeschool day is most active, and don't interrupt. If you know that your daughter homeschools your grandchildren in the morning, don't call in the morning. Simply wait until after lunch, or text a quick note to call you back at her convenience. Texting is great because it allows the recipient to respond at his or her leisure.
2. Be mindful of her time
Conversely, be mindful of her time. Just because a homeschooling mom is, by definition, at home, doesn't mean she's available. That bears repeating. Just because a homeschooling (or stay-at-home-mom or work-at-home-mom or work-out-of-the-home mom) is at home, doesn't mean she is available. Don't assume she can take Grandma to the doctor or volunteer for that committee or pick up dry cleaning. The beauty of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to teach and interact with your kids as you want. The downside of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to go at a moment's notice, and some people may take advantage of that. Homeschoolers typically schedule and plan out weeks in advance, and it's not just an inconvenience when something is thrown in unexpectedly, it's an abrupt change in plans. Homeschooling teachers typically do not have substitutes to take their class when they are told there is a sudden issue with their parents, as their class is their family.
That's not to say emergencies aren't necessary reasons to stop, adapt, and move in a different direction, but choose the emergency. Broken, bleeding, heart attack, stroke: yes. Go. Sudden need for ice cream (been there), rapid desire to go shopping (did that), or an immediate need to buy flour to make chicken and dumplings for the ladies' BINGO game that will be held three days' hence (bought THAT t-shirt): these are not emergencies.
3. Give gift cards
Often, a homeschooling mom will spend money on curriculum, dry erase markers, printer ink, paper, printer ink, stickers, notebooks, and printer ink (notice a theme?) but not on herself. Gift cards for coffee on the go, massages, the movies for a date night, or other fun things will help her feel appreciated and loved.
4. Wish list
Ask if she has a homeschool wish list on a website like Amazon, ask her to allow you to have access to it--then order things off it during the year. What better way to support the homeschool and take some worry off a mom than to provide a globe, or industrial-strength pencil sharpener, or a cute homeschool mom t-shirt? Whatever is on a homeschool mom's wish list, you know that there are things on it she knows she could use in her home and with her kids, so they will not go to waste. Think about shopping those lists for birthdays or at Christmas.
5. Sick days
It's hard to homeschool, parent, take care of the house, and nearly impossible to do all that well when there's sickness in the house. With social media, many times you know when a family is down with the flu, or having a particularly rough season with special needs, or maybe facing surgery. Providing a meal, whether you've cooked it or it's via take-out, is a lovely way to show a homeschool mom you care and have her back.
6. Provide a homeschool conference
Conferences that are dedicated for homeschooling families are integral for encouragement, finding out the latest curriculum, getting ideas or assistance, and just being around like-minded individuals. Encouraging a homeschool mom (or dad or family) with paying the registration costs (or, even, travel costs!) of homeschool conferences is a huge way to take an active role in the future of those children.
There are a number of homeschool conferences coming up around the country. One, an online conference, is the Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo, which is a one-of-a-kind event. Live and fully interactive, the conference will feature some of today’s most popular speakers addressing the most important issues that homeschool families face. Just $20, it provides lifetime access to participants. Register here.
Another conference is Teach Them Diligently, to be held in seven cities around the country this spring. Featuring the top names in homeschooling today plus a first-rate exhibit hall of homeschool vendors, it is not to be missed. Plus, the kids' and youth programs provide incredible opportunities for kids and teens to be around other homeschoolers and have fun learning about Jesus. For 9 years, Teach Them Diligenty Christian homeschool conventions have been a help and encouragement to new homeschool families, seasoned homeschool families, and families who are just thinking about starting homeschooling alike. Register here.
7. Library fines
Another way to bless a homeschooling mom is to pay off her library fines. It is inevitable: ask a group of homeschooling moms what's the one thing they wish they could dispose of, and it would be library fines. I use my local library a lot in homeschool, and I would love to have someone offer to take care of our fines. It's a rare month that we don't have some fine from an educational DVD we're still working through, a book that is taking a little longer to read, or a book that was so loved it went missing as it was being read in bed.
8. Encourage play dates
Get your families together and have play dates. Offer to have a friend's homeschooling kiddos to come over for a visit, or go visit a homeschooling mom with your kids (and bring coffee!). There really is no substitute for adult conversation, prayer between friends, and play.
9. Discipleship Groups
Invite a homeschooling mom to a Bible study as part of a small group or discipleship group. It's hard to keep focused on your own walk with Christ when you're so busy planning the route for others' walks. I'm involved in a small Bible study group with other ladies at my church. We meet every Tuesday night for several weeks in the fall and again in the spring for dinner, study, and fellowship. I'd be lost without that group of ladies. Inviting others into groups helps energize not only the individual but also the group.
These are only nine ways to encouragement to a homeschooling mom. Listening, talking, laughing, and sharing in each other's lives mean so much.
(C) 2020 Terrie McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her daughter. In the past, she also briefly homeschooled her son, who has autism.
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