Since the inception of this blog, I really haven’t written much here except for travel or local adventures. However, as we venture into homeschooling (again), I want to share my frustrations, triumphs and finds with others who might be considering this or who find themselves in this situation due to the current environment. I find that often travel and homeschool go hand in hand. Those of us who love travel, tend to also want to know if homeschool is an option for our children too.
After worldschooling with a little bit of curriculum thrown in last year while traveling I realized a lot of things about myself as a teacher. I have high expectations and low patience. I do exactly what I had always hoped I wouldn’t do.. be way too hard on my child about his academic achievements. Instead of honoring where he is at naturally, I feel compelled to compare him to his classmates or to his friends in public school.
I know he has great strengths in certain areas, but he also has great weaknesses. And it’s those that I hound upon.
Most days I don’t worry about his achievements because I know he is learning so much. But when it comes time to ‘report’ his learnings I panic and stress. I go over his writing with a fine toothed comb wanting him to be perfect when he’s not. I take his assessments as a personal failure. Why didn’t I teach him the things he needed to know to succeed on their measure of success?
Knowing these things about myself and needing a break, we opted back into private school after our year of travel. I have never been 100% happy with his school, but everyone always says that no school is perfect. I pushed my gut feelings aside and continued to send him to an environment that felt safe and loving even if he wasn’t learning much at all.
Listening to My Gut About Homeschooling
Fast forward to March 2020 and here we are faced with a lockdown and no in-person school. My son was ecstatic. He was so happy to be home, working on his projects, discovering things he didn’t even know he wanted to learn. He made time to do the little bits of school work sent across, but it was just to check the boxes. He wasn’t interested in learning it, just being done with it so he could move on.
Within a week of being home he started to say he didn’t want to go back at all this year. Or the next year. He wanted to give homeschooling a chance again. Even with a teacher who has low patience, yells more than necessary and isn’t always loving and supportive.
This made me sad and happy. Sad that he has been attending a school for so long that he just didn’t feel worked for him even though he seemed happy. He would remark to me “Don’t you remember those days when I would cry on the way to school saying it was a waste of my day?”
Yes, son I do remember. And while I agreed, I thought you enjoyed being there.
That’s the thing. He did enjoy being there. Until he saw there was another way. Until he recognized that being in school all day waiting patiently for his fellow students to stop talking or focus so he could learn was not the only option out there. He knew that there was another way. That there was the option to spend only a few hours a day doing “school work” with the rest of the day exploring and learning about life.
In my 9 years of being a mom I have always focused on child-led rearing practices. I have focused on giving my child a choice in his day to day life. I worked hard to allow him a say even when I wasn’t sure that his desires would be compatible with what my hopes were. Here he is telling me his thoughts – he wants to have more time and power over his learning. I had no choice but to listen to his voice and finally my gut.
While I am not perfect as a mother or a teacher, I give my all each and every day. I apologize and take ownership of my wrong doings. I try to repair. I try to comfort. I try to be the best I can be even when I’m flailing. And so here we are, unenrolled from the school he has gone to since pre-K, with the kids he’s known for most of his life. He’s excited. I’m scared. But here we go.. our adventures in homeschooling, at home beginning now!
We would love for you to join us on this new adventure. I will of course still post plenty of travel as soon as we can get back out on the road. If you aren’t interested in the homeschooling posts, feel free to skip them, but you never know you might read something that inspires you to give this a try too! Eventually I hope to share some of our fun on my new Instagram page unschoollife.
Questions & Answers About Homeschooling
A lot of people have asked me some questions about homeschooling, so I thought I would do a quick Q&A here.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is NOT what you have been doing with your public school or private school with Covid-19. That is distance learning. Homeschooling can be anything from a similar set up to traditional school with curriculum plans, workbooks, projects and more. It can also go to the other end of the spectrum which is often called unschooling. This would be letting your child take the lead on their education without the use of workbooks, curriculum or grade standards.
For us, when we say we are homeschooling, we plan to have the basic philosophy of unschooling but with a little bit of guidance with curriculum. For my son, he would be more than happy to just unschool, but I need (right now) to know that he’s not falling behind in case he does want to go back to school.
Don’t You Worry About Socialization?
This is one of the biggest questions people are asked when it comes to homeschooling. Aren’t you worried that your kid will not know how to socialize? No, actually I am not. Maybe at some point I was worried about that, but after 3 months of lockdown at home with almost no in person contact with other kids, I can see that no, he will be fine.
One of the best parts of homeschool is meeting other families that have the same outlook on life as you. The homeschool community is often much larger than you might imagine. Here in Los Angeles, we have an abundance of resources available in person and online to meet other families. The worry is we will be too booked up with activities that we won’t get the down time needed to explore interests at home!
How Will You Manage Your Own Business/Work?
This is a total work in progress. At this point, I have no idea how I will manage to do as much work as I used to do. And maybe I won’t. Maybe I will learn to be better at time management. Maybe I will learn how to work harder, not longer. Right now my son is at a great age for independent learning. He is able to do a good deal of his learning on his own with support from me as necessary. Instead of cooking or cleaning, I will work during these times. Maybe I will get up earlier to work or stay up later. We shall see. As with everything in life, it will be fluid and a work in progress.
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