“How do you homeschool your kids?” “What’s homeschooling like?” “How hard is it to do?” “What does a typical day of homeschool look like?” “How do I balance homeschool with all the other responsibilities?”
These are questions my wife and I were getting asked before Covid-19. We started homeschooling our oldest beginning back in 2017. But now with many schools upended, homeschooling has become more popular than ever. Even with hybrid models or remote learning, many parents are considering some form of homeschooling.
#1 How Hard Is It To Do?
Something I’ve learned in my 34 years on earth is that the hardest paths tend to yield the best results. This is not always the case. But we tend to intuitively know that the hard one is the better one.
In other words, there seems to be a close connection between struggle and growth. Consider eating a salad versus eating a double cheeseburger from the drive-through. I know that it will take a long time to make the salad. Do I even have spinach in the fridge? And a long time to eat the salad (seriously, why do salads take so long to eat?). Ultimately, the salad will be the better choice even though it is much harder to pull off. It will be better for my health and better for the environment.
This pattern of hard paths producing the best results seems to be pretty universal. From exercise (it’s so hard to wake up early and hurt your body on purpose) to delayed gratification (it’s hard not to impulse buy), to diet (mmmm…cheeseburgers). Choosing the hard path almost always yields the best results. Choosing the easy way out tends to give us mediocre or even poor results.
This is also true of parenting in general. The struggle of pregnancy, birth, sleeplessness, and caring for a child is at times ruthlessly hard. But being a parent gives you constant and profound moments of beauty.
It seems to me that you can’t have one without the other. Our culture tends to value convenience, comfort, and ease above all else. But we can’t have beauty or good results without going through some sort of struggle. This is just as true with homeschooling as it is with anything else.
Yes, homeschooling is very hard, but the reward is totally worth it. My experience has been that the hardship of homeschooling is completely worth the thousand moments of beauty we get to witness. If you’re considering homeschool: yes, it’s very hard. Yes, it’s totally worth it. And yes, you should consider doing it.
#2 How Do I Balance It With All My Other Responsibilities?
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. If you choose to homeschool your kids, make sure that you and your partner are sharing the load.
In my experience, homeschooling can be just too much work for one person all of the time. For a season, I taught our oldest reading, writing, and math from about 9 am-11 am so my wife could be with our younger two children. Then I went off to work while my wife taught the rest of the subjects. Being self-employed puts me in a unique situation to be able to share the load during the day (since I have a flexible schedule).
But I believe it’s important to not let one person bear the full responsibility of homeschooling. When my schedule hasn’t allowed me to help with the mornings, I will teach with the oldest at night after dinner. My wife still bears most of the teaching responsibilities. Aiming for a 10/90, 20/80, or 30/70 split might be the best you can do with a tag-team approach to homeschooling.
Overall, coming up with a creative tag-team approach to teaching at home is a must if you decide to homeschool.
#3 What’s a Typical Homeschooling Day Look Like?
My wife and I know our kids better than anyone. Which means that we have more patience and more love for them than anyone else will. But it also means we are able to customize the learning process for each child that much better.
One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the tremendous flexibility it gives you. Not only can you take days off whenever you need to, but you can also customize the curriculum however you want to. From online video options (like Kahn Academy as well as many others), to free resources, and Facebook Groups, you can create your own mash-up of curriculum that fits you and your child’s needs and interests. It just takes a little research.
Growing up, my parents homeschooled me and my siblings until I went to a local public school as a 10th grader.
My parents employed the “unschooling” method of homeschooling where whatever was interesting and exciting to me became a part of our regular curriculum. It looked something like this: when my parents noticed I was interested in photography, they put a 35mm film camera in my hands and made me go outside and take photos almost daily. When my dad noticed I was trying to learn to play drums after church, he bought a small drum set for me and had me practice every day. Or when my younger sister showed love for cooking, my mother had her begin helping with cooking and experimenting with new recipes. Or when my older brother started practicing on my grandpa’s guitar, they bought him his own guitar and enrolled him in lessons. This was all considered a part of our homeschooling.
In my early 20s, I was a full-time musician playing drums for several years, and today, I am a full-time photographer and videographer. My sister ran her own catering business for several years after high school. And my older brother is currently a full-time worship pastor. So the unschooling method was great for us as it helped us learn some more advanced things and set us up for more success in our adult life (I was photographing weddings by age 15).
The unschooling method isn’t something you can do for all subjects, but it can be helpful for filling in the gaps of what your personalized homeschooling experience looks like. As kids, we still needed to learn things that were uninteresting to us (like reading, writing, and math) but allowing us to learn about things that were interesting to us personally helped the homeschooling experience become that much more personalized and rewarding. It seems to me that reading (both being read-to and reading for oneself), writing, and math are the three essentials, but everything else can be more ad hoc and customized for each child. At least, this is our approach to homeschooling.
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It’s a challenging, time-consuming commitment. However, if you are able to homeschool, you should definitely consider it. Embrace the hard, knowing that it will lead to moments of beauty. Share the load with your partner, even if it’s just a little bit. Customize the curriculum by using all the amazing tools on the internet, join a local homeschooling FB group (or create one if there isn’t one!), or just ask around to find the best homeschooling curriculum mash-up. I bet you will find that it is both hard, and rewarding, difficult yet good, and at times painful, yet profoundly beautiful.
Here are some great resources if you’ve started homeschooling this school year or are doing virtual school at home: