Homeschooling can often be portrayed as a wild and free lifestyle. Just like anything in life that requires enormous effort and time, sometimes it is freeing and sometimes not.
I want my kids to be able to do math problems in their head, or read literature in order to learn about the world many years ago. Think Treasure Island or Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (swoon!). Maybe you might think I'm being hard on my kids but I disagree.
Growing up, I was very timid in class and never asked questions for fear of being teased. I was teased through a lot of school. As a result, I didn't learn a lot. I had a lot of unanswered questions and made a lot of assumptions. I was terrible at math, and didn't fully grasp fractions until I started building a fence with my Dad. When it came to anything technical, I strove to cover up the fact that I didn't understand it.
I want something better than that for my kids. Homeschooling can provide a rich education. Children are able to ask their trusted parent any question they have, without fear of being made fun of. Sure, social interaction can be less, but that is up to the individual family. I find more peace in being less busy driving here and there for play dates. During this Covid era, the social part of homeschooling has been very limited. I have been creative in doing nature walks and socially distanced classes with other families nearby. I hope that sometime soon my son can experience a fun social childhood like I had - yes, I had a few friends - playing in local rivers, exploring nature, and maybe even some dance and theater.
Our main reasons for homeschooling, even before Covid, were:
Being together more as a family - school time is quality time. My son and I talk about a lot of interesting things while doing lessons!
My kids play together despite their big age differences. Traditionally schooled kids would only see their siblings at the end of the day and on weekends. I hope my kids have a special bond because of that.
Avoiding the bullying and peer pressure environment that comes along with traditional schooling. A lot of my school memories center around trying to fit in, what clothes to wear, keeping track of this or that social drama, etc. Sometimes there's not a lot of learning going on!
I was blessed with a very unique education through Waldorf school. Therefore my skills include a lot of knowledge of Greek & Roman history, classic literature, poetry, architecture, and a huge emphasis on artistic presentation. I feel like that serves us pretty well in our homeschooling journey.
We do the basics Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and History...but we add some extra classes like: Tractor Repair, Livestock Husbandry, Chainsaw Maintenance, Home Economics, Entrepreneurship, Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry, and many others. Pretty sweet 🙂
Homeschooling is real work, no doubt about it. I still pay taxes to my local school but don't get anything in return for that, plus I have the full-time job of teaching my kids. I get a piddly couple hundred bucks for buying a curriculum (which doesn't begin to cover it + all the extra materials) from the government for homeschooling. But of course there are the intangible benefits we get, which is worth it.
Hopefully my kids will confidently go forth in the world feeling prepared for the drastically changed economy and society we are entering into. Gone are the days of get a university degree = make the big bucks (and work hard) = live in a comfortable home with a family = retire in ease with housing prices that steadily rose for 30+ yrs and savings rates that allow you to live off interest. I hope to teach a lot of basic entrepreneurial skills to all of my kids, which will aid them in running successful businesses in their (teenage?) adult lives.
Okay, back to homeschooling. It is definitely more challenging and both you and your child must be motivated to work hard. Not all kids want to work hard, and my kids sometimes don't want to start school in the morning. I give a lot of rewards - $$ cash money, (appropriate) TV time, getting to save up money for a special set of books or a toy, etc. We had times in the beginning where it started to feel impossible - really we just had to work out the kinks.
I'll say this: the kid who is homeschooling (and has never attended public school, like mine), has to accept the fact that you have to work hard to get rewards in life.
That Life Truth was the hardest hurdle we had to push through. After that, it got a lot easier. I think most kids would love to just play and goof off all day, am I right?
I don't really have any pearls of wisdom here. I just thought anyone out there who might be contemplating this lifestyle, would like to hear about our experience.
Last point: Homeschooling and homesteading is not the heavenly combo that most people think. It can go hand in hand, but there are real challenges like anything in life. I don't get a lot of homesteading work done in the day, because schoolwork takes up at least half of my day. That is not something I'm complaining about, it is just how it is. And I'm happy to do that because my son will get more and more self-sufficient as we go along. But not everyone has twin three-year-old girls like me! Anyway, prepare for the hard work - and before you know it, it will be smooth sailing.
Have you seen Rosemary's books?