A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Homeschooling – 10 Things I Would Do Differently

on October 30, 2014

My oldest daughter is coming to the end of her homeschooling education. She is a senior this year at the age of 16. This has led me to wonder about our last five years together on this homeschooling path. I took her out of school during the fifth grade. (I have posted in a previous post about how that went.) So this has given me much to think about.

I have done much for the homeschooling community. I have created a course at Udemy, created a homeschooling YouTube channel, taught at a local co-op, and enjoyed fellowship with a local homeschooling support group. Even so, I feel that there are things I would do differently. In the style of David Letterman, here is my Homeschooling Top Ten List.

1. Be Less Rigid

When we started out, I taught the kids in the same manner as public school. We only used text books and we had hour-long chunks dedicated to each subject. The kids learned Science, Math, English, History, and an elective of their choice. That took us about five hours a day. We were all miserable. The next year, we moved to alternating days – still miserable.

The following year, I gave them a list of weekly assignments to be completed by the weekend. The assignments were not completed and the kids were grounded for the weekend. Then, I had to work and their dad went back to college. So, Nana helped out a lot. That was the year of chaos, needless to say.

This year, I have a list of subjects and we work on them as we have time. I figure it will get done eventually. My stress levels are now significantly lower. Luckily, Texas treats homeschool as a private school. Therefore, we are not required to spend a certain amount of time in class. Thank goodness.

2. More Field Trips

In the beginning, we attended 1-2 field trips a week with a local homeschool group. Then, my husband lost his job and I started work. We were only available on weekends. The group did things during the week. We only had weekends free so we were really picky about what did during that time. Plus, we had less money. So, we stayed home a lot more. Time just seemed to get away from us. This year, even though we still have less money, I am determined to do something outside of the house. We are more housebound than we should be. My kids spend way too much time on the computer. I vow to get them out even if it is on the weekends. We have found a Magic: The Gathering group at my husband’s college. My 13 year-old son loves Magic. He now spends two days a week at the college with his dad. Now I just have to find something my daughter likes. Wish me luck on that one. So, my advice is to get out once a week if you can. It will be so worth it. Plus, it will give you more to talk about during the week. “Remember when that guy did that thing?” Oh yeah. Lots more conversation.

3. More Socialization

This is actually a “bad” word in the homeschooling community. The thing I heard the most when I began homeschooling was “But how will your children socialize?” I grew so sick of answering that question. We joined a local homeschooling group, went on 2-3 field trips a week, joined a local history re-creation group (Society for Creative Anachronism), and we went geocaching every month. In fact, we spent so much time “socializing” that we had little time for classwork. I was burned out – we all were. So we stopped everything except the SCA. Last year, we had very little money. So, we stayed home most of the time. This year, I am getting more and more freelancing work. So, I hope to be able to get out more. It is imperative that we get out.

4. More Active in Support Groups

We were very active in a local secular support group during the first year. Since then, our dedication to the group has waned. We have not had any contact with the group in nearly two years. I think that there could have been a happy medium. Just because we were members did not mean that we had to do something with the group every week. Membership had its rewards. It gave me access to events and activities within the homeschool community. There were people who had the same issues we did. I had someone to talk to who could empathize with me. My kids had others their age who were also homeschooled. I really miss the group and I would love to join them again. This is another thing I will change for the upcoming year.

5. More Reading

This little tidbit comes from my daughter. She is a bibliophile. She read her entire World History book in less than a month. “OK, I am done. Next.” She thinks I should give her more reading assignments and fewer worksheets. I am all for that. In the beginning, I gave them worksheets and tests. I spent most of my time grading them and keeping records. This brings me to:

6. Less Curriculum Planning/Record Keeping

Texas does not require homeschoolers to keep records of any kind. Local community colleges do not require records from homeschools. So why keep records? I am a product of public schooling. I was a substitute teacher for a couple of years and a preschool teacher for one. It was ingrained in me to keep records. So, I did. I thought local colleges and universities would actually care what grades they made in homeschool. Silly me. I look back on all those hours spent every week on planning and grading. I was working more at home than I did at work. I missed so much time with my family. So, I quit. I now spend more time getting my daughter ready for college and teaching my son more worthwhile subjects. The local colleges look at SAT/COMPAS scores and community involvement. So, that is what we do now.

7. More Community Service

This really goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Since more colleges look at community involvement these days, we really need to spend more time doing that. We are members of a historical re-creation group. But that doesn’t really count. This year will see more activities in our community. There are many to choose from 4-H, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Trinity Trash Bash, local animal shelters, soup kitchens, mentoring, etc.

8. More Hands-On Activities

The kids and I have gotten so bored with text books. I fall back on them time and time again because that is what I know. That is all I had in public schools. They offer guidance and information at my fingertips. I feel that this has been a crutch. Instead of reading about plants, we should have planted a garden. We did dissect a shark with our homeschooling group. It was amazing – even though our house smelled of sugar cookies for a week. We really miss that. So, I will try to have more of that this year.

9. Teach More Life Skills

This one won’t take a lot more work. I have really taught them some life skills. Both kids know how to do their own laundry, balance a check book, write a resume, sew, and cook. They can read and follow recipes. We just need to work on it a bit more. I do most of the cooking. I really need to change that. I think they could cook a meal a week. That wouldn’t be too hard. My son could take Mondays and my daughter could take Wednesdays – or something like that. The person responsible for the meal will make a list of what is needed, go to the store and buy the ingredients, and then make the meal.

10. More Career/Life Planning

This is the most important thing that every homeschooling parent should do. Once your child figures out what career paths/activities make him/her happy, you should explore those things. I watched Logan LaPlante on YouTube the other day. He is awesome. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he said “I want to be happy.” TED Talks is full of youth who are inspiring and doing remarkable things. I think that teachers should spend more time cultivating happiness and passion in youth and less time teaching to a test. The US is way behind the rest of the world in education. After spending two years teaching in public schools, I can see why.

So, I am now off to teach my 13 year-old college algebra. I have been using my husband’s college text books  to teach our children for the last two years. My son is currently taking Java for Beginners on Udemy. He absolutely loves programming. My daughter writes fan fiction and short stories. So, I am not spending so much time worrying about the Common Core or any other educational nonsense. They do what they love and that is ALL that matters. Isn’t that what we all want out of life? Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. Words to live by.

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