Thinking back to the early days of 2020, I never imagined I would be contemplating homeschool… but here we are! I used to joke that I would love to homeschool my children so we could travel, but we don’t have that kind of money, so that was always just a fun dream to think about.
With one of our children having an unclear medical issue, we are probably one of the safest families you’ll ever meet when it comes to precautions during this pandemic. Our concerns led us to seriously consider homeschooling, but I approached it with such fear at first! Now I’m feeling excited, motivated, and grateful and I wanted to share the 3 Biggest Fears I No Longer Have About Homeschooling and how I’ve become confident in our decision.
Our oldest daughter, Alina, is 4 years old (almost 5) and we started her in preschool back when she was 3. She LOVED it! Other than the earlier than usual morning wakeup time, I loved it too! I loved that she was making friends and being exposed to so many new things. Then the pandemic hit.
We took her out of school relatively early compared to the rest of her class since I work from home as a photographer and at the time, we assumed it would just be for a few short weeks!
(Do you remember those days? When we all assumed it would be a few weeks… maybe a whole month? If only.)
When we realized this was something that was not going away anytime soon, we continued with her school’s virtual 30-45 min per day classes to keep her connected to her classmates and so that she was still learning alongside them for whenever she returned. From everything I’ve heard and read, preschool isn’t so much about learning letters and numbers, but the main benefit is really the social interaction they are getting and practice for a classroom setting.
When I used to think about homeschooling, to be honest, I used to think that it sounded nice in theory, but that I would never do it because I don’t want to deprive my child of social interaction and a “normal” upbringing. Gag. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew… you know? LOL.
Most of the people I knew who were homeschooled (which was only a handful) had trouble socially or academically and homeschool turned out to be an amazing option for them. I had never known anyone who voluntarily homeschooled without a reason that sort of forced them to look into alternative schooling options in order to help their child thrive better.
There is such a stigma attached to homeschooling and the more I’ve dived into it all, the more I see how needless or minimal those fears about it are. So many families of all different backgrounds and reasons choose to homeschool and as long as it works for your family and your child is getting a well rounded experience, why do we assume our kids *HAVE TO* go to “normal school” anyways?
Ultimately, I just know we aren’t ready to send Alina back to in-person school due to safety, especially for her little sister, at this time. So, our options are virtual learning with her class, homeschooling on our own, or homeschooling through a charter. In-person social interaction at school just isn’t on the table for us at the moment, but I want to find ways for her to still interact with other kids somehow!
We haven’t been able to find a bubble of people with children that are Alina’s age yet to safely hang out with, but I’m hoping we will this year!
Anyways, once we feel safer with her interacting with people more, I’ve discovered that even if we continue with homeschooling, there are so many options I never knew about that could allow for a ton of social interaction with kids her own age.
Have you heard of this? This is when a group of homeschoolers (usually around the same age) get together every week, maybe even multiple times a week, and do lessons/nature walks/excursions together. This would be such a dream for me if we could find a pod of parents that use the same level of caution we do because I would definitely feel comfortable enough to meet up with them at this time.
Parents take turns giving a little lesson and the kids can learn AND play together.
I didn’t know this was an option, but you can also homeschool through a local charter school (if they offer that). Some charter schools offer a ton of in-person learning opportunities and resources for the kids to have social interaction and build relationships with peers and rather than being mandatory to attend everyday, you can select supplemental classes you want them to attend in person- art, music, dance, etc.
Basically, you do the main curriculum, but the charter school offers extra opportunities for learning and time spent with other children. They organize field trips, have recitals… when I heard about this, I thought it sounded so wonderful! There’s more to dive into about going this route, but this aspect really appealed to us because as we get more comfortable (precautions-wise) as time goes by, we could slowly introduce some new activities. I saw one school even has martial arts!
I have found so many new companies that have jumped into virtual learning to offer children a platform to see other kids virtually. Beanstalk.co is a great example and all 3 of my girls enjoy the classes, especially the music one! So, I feel totally confident Alina would still get to experience learning from another adult besides her mom and sharing and asking questions of other children.
*On a side note, Alina video chats with our family every single day, has video chats with her best friend, and we encourage her to converse with children she meets on our outdoor adventures (from a safe distance). We have no doubt that she is *currently* doing great, socially, and I’m learning there is an abundance of opportunity for her to talk to other children if you know where to look. (The twins, on the other hand, definitely need more exposure to seeing other humans. We’ve noticed they stop and refuse to move or run back to us in a panic on our walks if they see another person moving towards them. That can’t be good!)
Oh man, this might have to be a whole separate post where I can dive into my new found outlook on early childhood education! But, let me try to summarize here. Here’s my outlook now: I absolutely do not need Alina to be the “smartest in the class”, to be better than anyone else at something, or to be able to do things she’s not ready for just because I drill it into her.
For so long, we tried not to, but ended up comparing Alina to the only children we knew personally that were her age. And those girls are SMART! Like they are truly gifted children. Literally, some were even reading and doing early multiplication at 4 years old.
We didn’t necessarily do anything about trying to help her get to their level… we just continued what we were doing. However, the nagging thought that she might “fall behind” was always there. I needed to break free from that if I was going to homeschool in the gentle way I wanted to. I absolutely do not want to make learning a frustrating experience for her or me.
Something I’ve learned from insights gained from other homeschool moms is that there really isn’t that sense of falling behind in homeschool! There’s no comparison (which we all know is the thief of joy) because it’s just your own child’s unique learning journey!
I’ve noticed Alina seems to pick up math very quickly. When I checked on her skills for kindergarten in this area, she’s probably about half way through and she hasn’t even started kinder yet… and that was just built from natural curiosity and learning through play! She has also become more and more skilled at art, especially playdough. Building things, figuring out mechanics, having natural curiosity when it comes to science… these are all things she enjoys.
On the flip side, she has never been interested in learning to count past 20, and when I tried to force it, it wouldn’t stick. But now that she told me she wants to learn to count to 100 (she actually said 1000 first), she’s much more engaged! It took her longer to learn all the names of letters than our friends’ kids, but she is picking up reading at a great pace and is “ahead” of some of those friends.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m now of the mindset that children all learn differently and at their own pace… and also according to their interest levels. This is what made me fall in love with the idea of homeschooling!
How freaking cool to have a learning environment where if your child excels at something, he/she can continue to explore that subject further without waiting for the rest of the class to catch up? And if he/she just despises writing letters on worksheets but loves doing them in sand with a stick? Sure! Go for it!
They’ll all be okay. As long as you’re supporting them and doing your best to provide learning opportunities for them, they’ll be okay. I really believe that. I heard a pediatrician or a child development specialist say, “the amount of ‘party tricks’ your child can do at 4/5 years old has nothing to do with their intelligence, potential, or capability for learning.” I feel like they will all catch up on the “party tricks” (counting to 100)… but it’s the children who develop a love of learning that will go far and hopefully seek a life full of wonder and exploration.
I’m a photographer, not a teacher. My knowledge base is not in early childhood education, so I fully recognize that I am not considered traditionally qualified to teach. However, as most moms know, you know your child best. And if you can find quality curriculums that work for your individual child’s needs, so much of that teaching is laid out for you.
I dove head first into researching curriculums and it’s probably the deepest rabbit hole I’ve ever gone down other than teaching myself photography and making a career out of it. I have been spending every single night for months now looking into the many curriculums and supplementary learning materials available out there and I no longer feel afraid that I won’t be able to homeschool.
With so many quality choices out there (I can’t wait to share the specific ones I have fallen in love with), I just know we will find our way!
I’ll be sharing more of our homeschool journey on Instagram @themushies, so be sure to follow us there and wish us luck! I know so many families are considering homeschooling this year despite never thinking they would, so just know that if you are, I’m here with you going down this sometimes scary but exciting road! It takes a village! And I’m so happy to have so many of you supporting me from afar!
Welcome to my blog! I'm so thankful and excited that you're here.I'm a mama to twins and a toddler, a professional photographer, a sneaky veggie cooker, and a new-to-homeschool attempter. I love teaching other mamas how to get better photos of their littles and sharing my fave mama resources here!
Welcome to my blog! I'm so thankful & excited that you're here. I'm a mama to twins + a toddler, a professional photographer, a sneaky veggie cooker, & a new-to-homeschool attempter. I love teaching other mamas how to get better photos of their littles & sharing my fave mama resources here!