Have you ever considered homeschooling? Dreamt of being able to homeschool your children but no idea how to even begin the process? Or perhaps you would love to in an ideal world, but worried about the responsibility it would be? If the answer to any of these is yes! then this edition of the “What is it really like….” series is for you. I’m delighted to be in conversation here with homeschooling mum Miranda Gonzalez who has a homeschooling blog where she shares her homeschooling tips – Drops of Learning – to find out more about what exactly it takes to homeschool your children…
What led you to your decision to home school?
We actually were only intending on doing it for one year. My son was preschool age, but I wasn’t ready to send him to school yet, so we decided that I would homeschool him for the year and send him in Kindergarten. Well it turned out to be so much fun for him and I that we just naturally continued the next year. He is now in 2nd grade, and I am homeschooling my Kindergarten and Preschool age daughters as well.
I love the idea of home schooling, but it sounds like a lot of effort and additional responsibility..how do you do it?
I am not going to lie or sugarcoat it–it is much more effort and responsibility to be both parent and teacher. The thing that I have come to realize though is that the same can be said about anything in life that’s worth doing. We have made some sacrifices to have me home and teaching our children, and we have had to re-prioritize some things. And there was an adjustment period. It takes about a year to figure out your child’s learning style and what works for your family, but even through all of that, it is worth it.
What does a typical home school day look like and how do you prepare for that?
I think that homeschoolers can generally be categorized into two groups–the super scheduled, and the go with the flow. We are definitely more of the latter type. We have a routine, but it is very flexible and open to last minute changes. The goal is to get up each morning, and after breakfast we sit down to a couple hours of school, then have a break for snack and outside play, then back to the table for an hour or so to finish up. After lunch we will usually either watch an educational show or cuddle on the couch for reading time. But I say that is the goal, because we are also living life.
Some days we have to focus more on cleaning the house, so we will push school off until the afternoon. Some days a kid or two isn’t feeling well, so we do more couch cuddles and reading. Sometimes a friend will call and invite us to the park. There are some weeks that my kids will get so interested in one subject that we just dig deep and do a research project together. My goal is to make my children LOVE to learn, because then they will be able to conquer anything life throws their way.
And so how do you manage home schooling AND being a stay at home mum? Are you a super being?
I guess I don’t really distinguish between the two anymore. I am a homeschool mum. It’s what I do, and that includes the cooking, cleaning, and everything else of a stay at home parent. Homeschool is life.
Do you think homeschooling is suited to all parents, or does it take a certain kind of person with particular qualities to be able to home school?
I think the only real requirement is a desire to homeschool. I have come to learn that there are as many different ways of doing things as there are people on this planet, and homeschooling is no different. You will bring a unique spin to your homeschool, as will your child. As long as the desire is there, the skills will follow. Especially now that homeschooling has become more mainstream, there are so many different programs out there to help with any skills you feel you are lacking.
What do you have to say to people who feel that children need to be in what they deem to be a more “traditional” school learning environment.
I would say that homeschooling is more traditional. Only in the last 100 years or so have we even sent children to school outside the home. All throughout history, children were taught what they needed to know at home, or sent to be an apprentice to learn marketable skills. With schooling outside the home, we have lost so many necessary skills that used to be passed down from generation to generation. Young girls nowadays aren’t prepared to manage a home, and young men can’t build a cabinet or do household repairs. The importance of family and home have been lost in the pursuit of higher education, and I think there is a real movement to get back to basics.
There must be huge benefits to home schooling – can you talk us through some of them?
Family time is a huge benefit. I really know my kids, and we are closer because of homeschool than we would be if each of my kids spent 8 hours a day in separate classrooms. Another huge benefit is flexibility to pursue my children’s interests. And the freedom to do what we want with our days. If we want to pack up and head to the beach to go tidepooling, we jump in the car. Same with museums and libraries. My children’s academic pursuits aren’t limited to the four walls of a classroom or the textbook.
But what about the drawbacks?
The flexibility can also be a drawback. Sometimes I have to regroup and really get us back on track. Math and English are extremely important for me, and both of those come from a curriculum, so reigning in the creative learning to focus on worksheets can be a chore sometimes. Speaking of chores, the household ones sometimes take a back-burner. Luckily my husband isn’t afraid to chip in around the house, so usually once a week we dig in as a family and get the house back in order.
I also have pretty much no “me time,” which most days doesn’t bother me, but there are times I get overwhelmed and just want to be alone. My husband and I take regular date nights, and if he is home, sometimes just a quick trip to the store by myself will do the trick. All in all, the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks for us.
What advice would you give to a parent/parents who are thinking about exploring the homeschooling route?
Just do it. Give it a year, and see how it turns out. Chances are you will love it!
Anything else you would like to add?
I have heard people say they couldn’t afford to homeschool. I would just stress the fact that it isn’t as expensive as you would think. There are TONS of free or very inexpensive resources online, and the local library is a goldmine. There are also many free museums and events that you could incorporate as well. The world is your classroom! Get out there and learn.
Miranda is a homeschoooling mum with 5 children, a loving husband, and a turtle. She lives on coffee and essential oils. When she isn’t teaching her kids, she enjoys reading, writing, and crocheting. Her family enjoys travelling together, learning while travelling, hiking, and camping. You can find her blogging about their adventures over on Drops of Learning. Stop by anytime and learn with them!
Check out previous issues of the “What is it really like…” series here.