By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
These past few months have thrown parents across the planet into the unexpected role of teacher. Schools have closed and embraced distance-learning as a way to safely educate kids in the midst of this global pandemic.
For many the reopening of schools in the fall will be something your family will celebrate, as homeschooling just isn’t in the cards for your home. For others this may have been the chance to test out homeschooling that you may be secretly hoped for and you're wondering if your family should dive all the way into this lifestyle and continue over the upcoming school year.
Deciding to homeschool is a big decision! It takes commitment to create a home where learning is a part of your entire family's routine.
If you are feeling anxious about committing to homeschooling rest assured you are in good company. Most of the homeschooling moms I know began their homeschooling career with butterflies in their stomachs and a good helping of self-doubt.
Even though homeschooling takes effort and commitment, there are some amazing real benefits to making it a part of your family's lifestyle that you probably already have gotten a taste of over these past months of having your kids learning-at-home.
Here are 5 signs that homeschooling will be a good fit for your family:
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1. You’ve Found a Good Learning Rhythm
Abruptly jumping into a distance-learning format with your kids is not easy and takes a good bit of effort to adjust to an entirely different learning format mid-year.
If you are ending this school year feeling like your kids adjusted well and were able to develop a good rhythm for learning at home then continuing to homeschool will likely feel much easier than what you just walked through!
Truly having the ability to create a routine that balances family obligations, learning, play, siblings, and fun is one of the more difficult parts about getting started as a homeschooler.
Being able to facilitate the structure your kids need to keep learning while life keeps happening in your home is something worth celebrating and potentially holding onto past this season of life.
The good news is as a true homeschooler you can get more control over what learning may feel like in your home.
Plus, when the world is not on lockdown there are so many amazing opportunities to enhance your learning rhythm by engaging more with your community. The world is your family's oyster!
If you could make learning happen in chaos and uncertainty, just imagine what amazing learning experiences your family could share when you have the time to plan, create, and prepare for the school year ahead.
These months have given you the chance to learn about what works for your kids and build on it next year! If you have found they excel in math, you can use that knowledge to info the kinds of curriculum and activities that you choose for your child.
If you’ve loved learning together but miss friends, a homeschool co-op could be a great addition to next year. This positive momentum you’ve found is a great way to transition into homeschooling.
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2. You’ve Found Joy in Being Involved in Your Kid's Discovery Process
Every parent loves seeing their kids learn and grow, but not all of us are wired to love teaching our kids.
Just as you hope your child’s teacher comes to work with a passion for teaching, it’s important that homeschool parents are fueled by an inner excitement that is sparked when they guide their kids in learning.
This definitely does not mean that you wake up ecstatic at the chance to teach your kids but it does mean that your heart is in it. Homeschooling can be taxing but it should offer both your kids and you some joy in the journey.
If the past few months have been nothing but frustration, homeschooling may only further aggravate your relationship with your kids. Everyone has bad days but the overall take away from learning together should be a positive one.
This doesn’t even mean loving teaching every subject or finding learning time to be your favorite time of day.
For me, I find the most joy in seeing my kids learn by doing. Lots of days we kind of get through our book work quickly and the real joy of our days comes from being out in the world together.
For us this looks like participating in a co-op, exploring new parks, taking science classes at our local state park, field trips, playdates, art classes, Karate classes, Bible studies, and more.
I find joy in being alongside them as they discover the possibilities, friendships, and wonder our world is filled with. That joy keeps me going on the hard, cold, rainy days, where it feels we all are butting heads because I know brighter moments are ahead for us all.
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3. You Are Seeing That Homeschool May Be a Better Fit for Your Child
These past months have been a chance to see into the world of our kids with new levels of clarity.
We have had the chance to see truly how they approach their schoolwork and hear more from them about their thoughts and feelings about school. Your child may miss school badly through this time period; this might be a good sign that conventional schooling is a great fit for your kid.
On the other hand, you may find that your child is relieved to be spending their days home, in closer contact with your family unit.
If this time at home has brought new levels of academic progress, relieved anxiety for your child, or just brought them more joy than the old routine of getting up to go to school each day, then homeschool may be something they will love to continue in doing.
If your child was at school, I think it’s helpful to talk to them about the decision to become homeschoolers. Just hear what their thoughts are and if they would be excited to take the leap into home education.
You don’t have to give them all the power in this decision but since it affects their normal so tremendously, a conversation will help you better gauge how they feel about it. It also will help them “buy into” the idea of homeschooling if they feel like they are a part of that discussion.
Even as homeschoolers from day one, we talk to our kids at the end of each year to ask them how they feel about homeschooling. Granted, they have never experienced conventional school, so it is hard for them to know if they are missing something, but it is good affirmation to me hearing their enthusiasm to continue on this journey.
It also lets me know which parts of homeschool bring them joy and which things they don’t love so much (predictably they love seeing their friends most and bookwork least).
Homeschooling is a family affair which means it’s important that everyone be considered when making this decision.
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4. Homeschooling Allows for More Family Time and You Are Loving It
Prior to this quarantine, I really felt like our family had a lot of quality time together as homeschoolers but this experience has taken family time to the next level!
At first I felt sort of overwhelmed just being home with nothing on the calendar but over time we’ve really appreciated the new level of closeness being together so much has brought. You may be seeing the gift of time that homeschooling brings.
As a homeschooler you have control over what your days look like. Even if you are involved in co-ops and activities, many of these happen during daytime hours, leaving evenings more free for family time.
Not to mention, siblings get to be each other's primary playmates. Our kids have so many amazing friends that they see often (when not dealing with a pandemic) but because we are all home together and go to every activity together their siblings are their closest friends.
We are all extroverts, so our normal homeschool routine includes a heavy dose of social time but because we are going to these playdates and events together we make family friends.
I know the entire family of every one of my kids' close friends because they are also my best friends. As they grow older I am sure they will make more independent connections, but nonetheless I know my kids so well, the trust for the future will be well established.
Bottom line, that I keep repeating because it’s so true, homeschooling is a family affair!
The beauty of that is you have the chance to grow a close-knit, well-connected home, where you have total control over what your schedule looks like, and have room for down time together as a part of your days.
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5. You're Loving the Extra Time to Play, Explore, and Be Outdoors
Homeschooling, especially for the young grades, takes a lot less time to complete daily lessons than a traditional school day.
Just the fact that kids get one-on-one instruction, you can move at your own pace, and you don’t have to wait for 30 kids to line up for trips to the bathroom means content is covered much more quickly.
This makes a lot more room in the day to explore your child’s interests, explore the outdoors, or just play.
Schools are limited in the amount of time kids get to move around and be outdoors and with the new COVID safety restrictions what this looks like is schools are likely to be even more limited.
Protecting your kid's opportunity to be young and have the chance to exercise their imagination is so valuable. Homeschooling makes extra room in their young lives for personal discoveries and playtime.
You may have noticed over this season at home that your kids have had time to play with toys that had once lost their appeal or that your yard and bikes have gotten a lot more use this spring.
Research shows that play-based learning is critical to help develop motivated lifelong learners. If considering what you want your children’s future schooling to look like, time for play and as they get older just time in the day for exercising and eating well is an important factor to consider.
My friend asked a homeschooled teenager their thoughts about homeschooling. She responded that she felt homeschooling was a healthier option.
She noted that she was able to exercise regularity, eat well, sleep extra if needed, and keep a balanced schedule that included her school and extracurricular commitments with family time.
Prayer and conversations with others you know that are homeschooling are great tools to help you gain peace in whatever decision you make for your family's academic future.
Getting insight from those already in the homeschooling community can help you find resources that will make your journey more successful. God will be faithful to guide you and sustain you as a homeschooler.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, also for the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her blog or follow her on Instagram.
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