This is a really difficult blog for me to write. Mostly because I never thought, for a second, that I would ever legitimately consider homeschooling for Z.
Here’s the thing, we will soon be relocating (halfway across the country). And the relocation is inspiring some extra thoughts in me regarding her education. I am finishing my degree in a few months (YAY!!!) and have always looked toward working from home (virtual assisting, proofreading, my Etsy shop..etc). This thought is really exciting and really scary. It takes a lot of motivation and endurance to do something like that, but I very much believe in creating the life you want, not allowing life to create itself. And so, over the past few months, I’ve been slowly building up my knowledge, my items, my ideas to do just that. I can be a dreamer and an idealist sometimes, and I’ve had to be painstakingly honest with myself about what will really be required of me to pull this off–and it’s a lot, but it’s certainly not impossible.
But back to homeschooling, and why I’m considering it. Z hasn’t had a bad school experience at all. She’s had 2 wonderful teachers (and 2 great pre-k teachers before that) that have been inspiring, supportive, and all-around amazing. She’s active, has friends, and has taken to school really well. So, why would I want to change that? Especially since I’ve always been an avid supporter of public schooling (for a long time, I was going to be a teacher…) Well, I think our education system is a really broken one. This is a soapbox issue for me, so I’ll try not to sound too preachy, but bit by bit over the last 10-15 years, America’s education system has whittled away inspired teaching.
And let me say this — I have no problem with teachers. In fact, I wholeheartedly support and value them. But I think they have been put in a near-impossible position. Their value as educators is now tied to (and almost completely built upon) testing. Mandatory state testing. Every time I read those damn words, it infuriates me. I was so fortunate in my schooling (public education) to have teachers that were able to creatively reach their students. Who could uphold standards without being suffocated by arbitrary testing. Who didn’t have to tailor every piece of their lesson plans toward some testing goal.
And while Z hasn’t reached the age that demands testing yet, I have already seen the ways they start to prepare the students for those tests (beginning in 3rd grade, where we live currently, and where we will be moving). And I don’t like it. I don’t like the amount of homework that a 6 year old has in a week. It’s absurd to me that a 6 year old even has homework (yep, I’m one of those). And when ranking America against other countries, we continue to fail. So, we think…more tests, get to them younger…and it has done nothing but suck every bit of inspired creativity out of education, in my opinion. In fact, I would say my educational standards are closely aligned with Finland. And I need to point out one of my favorite pieces from this article, when a Finnish principal responds to many of America’s leaders and businessman pushing for competition in testing between schools to gain money for their program, he says,” ‘I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,’ said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. ‘If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.'”
And that is really the core of my desire to homeschool. Sure, there are plenty of other things I like or find appealing, but when it comes down to it, that’s the heart of it. I want to teach Zoey how to learn to be a student of life, not a student for a test. I want practical application to be at the heart of her education, not scantrons. I want her life to be inspired by play, wonder, and creativity. And that is something that is just not available to her in America’s current education system.
Alright, there’s my soapbox. 🙂
Now, for my concerns with homeschooling.
CONCERN #1 – Socialization
Z is an only child (and may or may not stay that way, who knows), so socialization is a BIG concern. Z is a kid that thrives off of people. She quietly observes, but she is energized by people and interaction. So, I’m an outgoing introvert…she is a quiet extrovert. Funny, how that happens.
I know that Z would make new friends, experience new environments, and adapt well to a new school. She has an enormous amount of resiliency with new situations, and I’m confident she’d adjust to a new school just fine. In fact, when I asked her, “Would you ever want to be homeschooled?” She thought about it really hard and asked, “Well how would I make new friends?”
Homeschool co-ops, outside activities (sports, enrichment classes…etc), and parent groups could all help with that. I’ve already found a couple that are in the area we will be moving to. I’ve also started researching activities, costs, and such. Luckily, I’m pretty good at this research thing, and where we’re moving has great weather nearly year round, which helps even more. Z has already played a few seasons of soccer, is currently in gymnastics, taking piano, and has plenty more interests. So, I think, if I budget well, socialization will not be a concern.
CONCERN #2 – FINANCES
Like I said in the beginning, I’m all about creating a life you want, not waiting for life to happen. I’m an English major (Creative Writing emphasis), and have always wanted to be a writer in one way or another. I have also have extensive knowledge and experience in office work & research, which I plan to use to my advantage.
I also have two Etsy stores that I’ve been working on nearly non-stop the last 2 months to get up and running.
So, why am I thinking about all this now? Well, for one, I’m a planner. But more importantly, I am also well aware that if I want to make money and be able to live the life I want, I have to work tirelessly for it. And the chance to be able to do that not only gives me a better quality of life, but it gives me the opportunity to build a life for Z that I want (and think is necessary).
How am I going to balance homeschooling with working from home? I don’t quite have those nuts and bolts figured out, however this post was incredibly helpful and inspiring to me. Also, this one. It’s not impossible. It just takes some planning.
CONCERN #3 – STANDARDS or AM I ENOUGH?
I’m walking into this idea of homeschooling with the knowledge that it may not work out. It may not be the cup of tea that I’m expecting (and Z is, for that matter). It may not fit Z the way I think it will. And in that case, she may be put back into “normal” schooling.
And this gives me the most anxiety. It’s the question that I’m sure burns inside many moms, parents, homeschooling or not. Am I enough? Will I be able to provide her with everything she needs to know (standards-wise) so that if she does go back into regular schooling, she won’t be behind or overwhelmed? And this can even go down the line. Say, we stick with homeschooling and it really works for us, what about college? Will she be prepared for it? Can I take that sort of pressure on? Will I be able to provide what she needs.
The answer, I know, is simply yes to all the above questions. I am enough for her. But I am not the only person that will be available to her. We will have a community of people that can teach and guide and invest in her (ya know which also helps with concern #1).
And let’s be honest, one of my strengths is research. I can research til I am blue in the face and still be inspired to research more. I enjoy it. I’m good at it. If I don’t know the answer to something, I know how to find it. Whether it be through a group, a search engine, or a person. I know that I do not have to do this on my own. And frankly, Z is a pretty well-adjusted kid. If I continue to support the things that make her unique and interesting and valuable, I do believe that she can adapt to anything that comes her way. And isn’t that the main reason I wanted to begin this homeschooling journey to begin with?
So, there you have it. My thoughts, concerns, and ideas for homeschooling with Z. We still don’t know if this is the route we will take, but I want to be as educated and aware of all sides of the coin, before landing anywhere.
What would you all suggest? For those that homeschool, did you come from traditional schooling or did you always know that’s how it would be? Any other helpful hints, articles, tips you’d like to leave are greatly appreciated as well!