What I’ve Learned from Our First Year Homeschooling, Part 1: FAQs

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This post also ran on KiDOinfo: Connecting Families, Rhode Island and Beyond on April 27, 2015

“Decide what your truth is.  Then live it.”  -Kamal Ravikant

We are in the 7th inning of our first year homeschooling Boy 1 (age 8). We are taking this year-by-year, and who knows? A brick and mortar school may again be the best choice for our family at some future time. For now, though, this has been a great decision for us, and Boy 2 will be home next year for kindergarten as well.

Since we started this adventure, I get a lot of questions about the challenges of this educational choice and lifestyle. Many of the things people understandably assume must be really hard have not been big issues for us.   The most common questions I get are some version of the following:  

  • What about social opportunities? It does take a little effort to make sure he gets enough time with other kids, in the sense that a pre-assembled group of kids does not arrive at our door daily. But it is very doable. The homeschool community is growing, and we have met some amazing people. We belong to a great homeschool group, and there are plenty of activities available within and outside the group, both for free play and more structured activities. And, of course, we still get together with friends outside the homeschool community.
  • How do you make sure he learns what he is “supposed to” learn? Kids are natural learners, and there are so many curriculum choices out there, there are almost too many options!   I don’t have an education degree, but neither do a lot of private school teachers. I am in awe of what teachers accomplish meeting the needs of so many children. There is no way I could manage a classroom like that—not even on the level of averting total mayhem, never mind inspiring and educating each child! And I know there are teaching strategies that could benefit my child of which I have no knowledge. What I may lack in this area is balanced by the fact that I am facilitating the learning of only one child (soon to be two), I know him better than anyone else, and this set-up allows him to have a completely individualized education. Besides the more structured curriculum work, this lifestyle allows plenty of time for self-directed projects and endless hands-on, experiential “world schooling” opportunities. (That is a whole other post!) Now that we are in the last quarter of the school year and I can look back on what he has accomplished, any fears I had in this area have been put to rest. All the people I talked to when we were researching this decision were right—it’s not as hard as it sounds, kids are hardwired to learn, and homeschooling is very efficient.
  • I could never do that–isn’t it stressful and demanding on you? Well, sure, sometimes. Just like life in general. I certainly have some responsibilities I didn’t have when my child was in school. At the same time, other stressors have been removed. We aren’t doing the relentless hurry-up morning routine. I don’t have to spend the afternoon or evening pushing homework to happen after he’s already been “working” all day at school and just needs to play. There is a spaciousness and flow about our days that comes from being at home more, together more, following our own rhythms. I’ve lived both ways now, and having kids in traditional school versus homeschooling are just different lifestyle choices. I don’t have much time to myself, but really, how many of us do? I work part time and homeschool my kid(s). I’m almost always either with my kids or at work. Mothers who work full time are either at work or with their kids. Same boat, slightly different proportions.

The bottom line for me about stress and homeschooling?  I’m a lot less stressed in general since we started. That’s not because Boy 1 was having a bad experience at school. He had a pretty typical, mostly good experience by most standards. It also has little to do with the details and logistics of the two lifestyles. It’s really about the energy that is freed up and the happiness created by following our own path and living our very own handmade life.

It was scary to make this huge decision to do something so far out of the mainstream. There were a lot of logical and rational reasons for our choice. Those factors aside, I knew intuitively it was the right thing for our child and our family, at least for now, and I simply felt called to do it. I thought homeschooling might feel like swimming upstream against the current of societal norms. What I found is that continuing to resist doing this was swimming against OUR current, and that’s the much bigger stressor.   Taking the plunge = living in alignment with our truth.

In my next post, I will talk about what HAS been difficult, and what I’ve learned from that.

© Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama! 2015

18 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Our First Year Homeschooling, Part 1: FAQs

  1. I’ve been enjoying your posts so much, Camille. I look forward to more! I’m so happy for you and your family that the homeschooling experience has worked out so far, so good! Your boys are both so lucky to have you for a mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deanna says:

    “I thought homeschooling might feel like swimming upstream against the current of societal norms. What I found is that continuing to resist doing this was swimming against OUR current, and that’s the much bigger stressor. Taking the plunge = living in alignment with our truth.” I love this line. So succinct and visual!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, nothing is perfect, right? We do what makes the most sense at the time with the options available combined with wherever our family is at. You know if we were in Austin, the boys would very likely either be in A’s school, or that other awesome one you were looking at!

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  3. This is encouraging to hear! I’ve often wondered about the possibility of homeschooling Sofie if we couldn’t afford to send her to her current school anymore. And the social issue was one of my main concerns – but that local homeschooling group looks large and awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donna, part of our research when we were trying to decide was to go ahead and join the group. It’s open to anyone considering homeschooling, and at less than $30 for a year, it was well worth it. I had access to the activity scheduling forums and the FB page, so I could really get a feel for the community and available activities. We even did one of the group hikes during April vacation last year when we were still on the fence. There are a few other groups in RI and southeastern Mass as well, and we’ve done a couple of great activities with the Mass one.

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