Don’t you just love when you say you’ll *never* do something and then weeks, months, or even years later find yourself doing that very thing?? Like mom jeans. I never thought I’d wear them…and then all of a sudden I was. Homeschooling was one of those “nevers” too … and then COVID happened … and I was forced into it. (We all were!)
Only let’s be honest, #distancelearning isn’t quite the same as homeschooling. Sure, our kids were “learning at home” (often debatable, though, right?!), but because distance learning was forced upon us, we were neither excited about it nor prepared for it. Seeing how I’m a trained educator, I didn’t want homeschooling to get the better of me, so I dove straight into it this summer. And after months and months of research, I have come to two conclusions:
- Homeschooling has A LOT of benefits.
- You don’t have to wear a bonnet to homeschool.
Obviously #2 is a joke, but these stereotypes do exist, so let’s start out by dispelling a few myths:
MYTH #1 : Homeschool kids are weird and unsocialized. This is completely untrue – there’s just SO MUCH out there today for homeschooling families! You’ve got countless co-ops offering classes and social-emotional opportunities for kids (ones like Hero & Faith came highly recommended); there are also organizations like the YMCA and local park systems that cater to homeschooling families in amazing ways. So point being, if your kid is going to be weird, it ain’t cause ya homeschooled. 😜
MYTH #2 : Homeschooling is just for the pious. I don’t know why this stereotype exists, but if you ask anyone they’ll probably tell you that they imagine homeschooling moms as ones who churn butter, wear bonnets, and sing hymns. Ha! Does anyone do that anymore? Hardly. Instead, I’ve met city moms and suburban moms; religious and unreligious families — all of whom are homeschooling because they feel it’s what’s best for them. So if you’re interested in homeschooling, don’t let the bonnet deter you. Do it without one! 👍
MYTH #3 : Homeschooling doesn’t provide a well-rounded education. Bzzzzzt. Wrong! I’m an educator and I couldn’t believe how comprehensive the curriculum is for homeschooling families! Nature hikes, hands-on experiments, field trips, cooking classes — sky’s the limit! Plus, the academic rigor of the curricula I explored was incredibly impressive too (see below). 🤓
Now let’s talk about how to practically do this thing.
First off, you have to remain flexible. (I hate when people say that, but it’s true). You definitely need to get organized, but you also HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO stay flexible. Otherwise you’ll die inside and your kids will eat you alive. (This goes for distance learning folks, too.) Secondly, determine what time of day you’re the most patient and plan your schooling around that. For me it’s in the morning ,so I do the bulk of my “teacher-y” things then. Here’s a sample of what we did this summer. My girls are in grades 4th, 2nd, and pre-k:
- “School work” varies but is tied to a Unit Study (see below).
- Reading and math happen every day.
- Specialists (science, art, music, etc.) happen once / week or if you have time.
As you can see, there’s only about 2-3 hours of school. This is A LOT less than you’d expect which means there’s more time for other things, like having F U N!
More on morning meeting…
This has been a surprising highlight to my family’s day. In fact, my kids BEG for it on the weekends! This is what we do:
- Read-a-loud Book (YouTube!) 👉 whoever gets the “book ticket” that day gets to pick out the story.
- Devotion / Scripture 👉 do Jesus Calling for Kids, the Kids Bible App, or memorize the Armor Prayer!
- Spanish (YouTube!) 👉 songs are a great way to learn a new language!
- Expectations for the day 👉 VERY important for the child who HAS to be in-the-know.
- Prayer / Family Anthem 👉 One child closes in prayer and then we say, “GOOOOOOO MEIDAL GIRLS!”
On to curriculum!
I took a quiz to determine which type of philosophy would work best for me and I landed on Unit Studies. This train of thought chooses a theme (like horses, fishing, rocks…) and uses that theme to teach a variety of skills (reading, math, science, etc.) In my opinion, this is the easiest way to execute a one-room schoolhouse because all of your kids are learning the same thing, just at varying levels. Plus, they get to choose the topics that interest them, which is incredibly helpful for kids who “hate school”. One of the best Unit Study curriculums I found is Gather Round Homeschool.
In addition to Unit Studies (or whichever philosophy you land on) you might want to pick a few favorite textbooks to work from. A general place to start is with READING and MATH. Hit those subjects everyday, and then add in the rest when you can.
Literature and Grammar
Have your eyeballs popped out yet?! 😜 Seriously. I know this is a lot of info, but my hope is that you’ll take 1 or 2 nuggets from this post and then save the rest for when you’re ready. Whatever you do, start SMALL, be GENTLE (on yourself and your kids), and include GOD in the process. He knows what’s best for your family anyway, and I believe he wants this school year to be the greatest, regardless of where we send our kids!
(And in case you really ARE gonna do this thing, make sure to read up on the MN Laws for homeschooling, visit the MN Dept. of Education, and check out the MN Homeschoolers’ Alliance for more info as well. YOU GOT THIS MAMA!! 👊)
Jonna Meidal is a mother to three girls who seeks to parent them by the fruits of the spirit (and her Quiet Hat). She’s been to 20 countries (yay!), loves to write & laugh (a LOT), and can’t get through the day without eating popcorn (duh). You can read more of what she’s been up to at jonnameidal.com or follow her adventures on Instagram @jonnameidal.