Homeschooling is not something I would recommend for the faint of heart yet here we are only two more weeks away from another year of homeschooling beginning and I, one of the most anxiety-ridden people I know, is looking forward to it, though I’m sure my 12-year old son is not.
Last year was a bit of a bumpy ride when it came to a routine but this year I at least have a tentative plan for a routine and for lessons. I also have a better handle on the curriculum for this school year – in some ways at least. I don’t feel as panicked about curriculum as I did last year but like last year I am concerned about how we will pay for it all. Truth be told you don’t have to spend a lot to homeschool, but I’m a stickler for getting the best curriculum I can.
Luckily I snagged our history curriculum on eBay and there are other sites where you can purchase high quality used books or sets. Last year my brother, who is a librarian (and a blogger. You can find him at Still An Unfinished Person.), had some curriculum dropped off for the library’s book sale and he snagged it up for me, not knowing that part of it was what I needed to complete my son’s science unit for this year. Actually, that particular curriculum is geared toward eighth or ninth graders and my son will be in seventh this year, but he’s very quick with subjects that interest him and science does interest him. The only subject that doesn’t interest him is math, something I hope to remedy at some point.
I also think I’ll be using a Language Arts curriculum I picked up last year but thought was too confusing and advanced for him at the time. There is one other place we don’t have to spend extra money. Yeah! I really want a grammar and spelling curriculum this year, which adds to the budget but is much needed (probably for me too! Ha!)
My daughter’s birthday is actually after the cutoff to go to Kindergarten, but she’ll be five this year so we are stepping up her education and I hope to be able to pick up a full PreK and Kindergarten curriculum for her to add on to what she already knows.
Despite the extra costs that homeschooling can bring when it comes to curriculum, I truly feel homeschooling has been a blessing and perfect fit for our family in this season. For one, my son, daughter and I can visit my parents whenever we want, no longer having to work around my son’s school schedule. We simply take school with us. Last year my son also spent some days and nights with his grandparents and his grandfather taught him how to build things, pour concrete, repair tombstones, weed, and flatten the ground to prepare for a pool. The lessons he learns at his grandparents are well beyond the scope traditional education would provide for him and I love that.
Another aspect I enjoy about homeschooling is that I no longer dread the end of August, knowing it will be a crazy rush of trying to buy school supplies and back to school clothes and pay for books and tuition. I also no longer have to dread my son being gone all day long. I’m one of those weird parents who actually likes having him home with me and being able to interact with him throughout the day and the school year. I know that before too long he’ll be grown and out of the house and I’ll miss those moments together.
Lest you think my “poor unsocialized” kid and I are attached at the hip, however, we are involved with a local homeschooling group to encourage interaction with other children of various ages and also make sure my son spends time away from me so neither of us contemplates running away from home, screaming and arms flailing.
Just because I like having him home with me during the week, doesn’t mean I never let him have a life away from me. I don’t know why I’m desperately trying to clarify that my son isn’t unsocialized, but it’s probably because I’ve heard the weirdest ideas about the lack of socialization of homeschooled children. There are some people that seem to believe that homeschooled children don’t ever have interaction with other humans and are being held hostage by their parents in a dark room with only a tiny light to do their school work.
Actually, maybe our children are being held hostage by us in some ways since we make them actually learn during the day, often without the breaks for recess or study hall that traditional school allows for. Poor kids. Ha. But they are definitely socialized – either by joining with other homeschoolers in a type of co-op or by interacting with adults when their parents drag them to stores, the mechanics, church, or doctor’s appointments. My son has developed a bit of social anxiety, but I don’t attribute that to homeschooling, I attribute it to a bad experience he had in traditional school and also the fact he’s a preteen (for two more months anyhow) and that’s a natural stage for preteens.
Incidentally, many homeschool students are able to complete their work in about four hours and devote the rest of their day to other educational or life skills related activities, including socialization. The reduced hours my son was “in school” during our first year of homeschooling last year was actually disconcerting to my husband until I pointed out that our son doesn’t have to wait for other students to catch up before he moves to another lesson, doesn’t have to wait in homeroom, doesn’t need a 45 minute lunch break, doesn’t get recess or study hall and his extracurricular activities are simply included in everyday activities.
This isn’t to say that these activities held in a traditional school are wrong or not appropriate. Not at all. They have their place and reasons. I’m just explaining that may be why a homeschooling student doesn’t seem to be in school “as much” as a “traditional student” (for lack of a better word).
There are many other benefits to homeschooling, for our family anyhow, and among them is no longer having to buy our son an entirely new wardrobe at the beginning of each school year. At his previous school, he was required to wear polo shirts every day and on Friday he had to wear dress shirts, khakis, dress shoes, and a tie. We needed to budget for those expenses, in addition to the cost of books and tuition, every summer. Also eliminated from the budget are the various lunch items. We no longer need to pack sandwiches and snacks or provide money for a snack card. Instead, he makes himself a sandwich for lunch or I cook him leftovers.
The grocery budget may have increased in some ways since my son procrastinates from work by declaring he needs a snack every couple of hours. Last year I finally told him he could eat his snacks while working and that cut down on the procrastination at least. We will see if it helps with the grocery bill at all this year.
One other benefit of homeschooling I’ve discovered is that I can learn along with my son. The fact I am learning things I never learned in public school or college has made me more aware that maybe my education wasn’t what I thought it was, or maybe I was simply in a total tachycardia related fog all through high school and a sleep-deprived haze in college. I don’t know, but homeschooling my son has made me feel like I still have a lot to learn about history, especially.
In addition to me having the chance to learn more about a subject, my son also can spend more time on a particular subject or unit if it interests him. We can take the time to really focus on what he is interested in and expand on lessons, while making sure he still learns his other subjects. Often in his other school they had to end a unit or simply “never got to it” and then the next year they’d start back at the beginning of a subject, so to speak, and still never progress past certain points in the subject, especially when it came to history.
I can’t tell you how many times the beginning of the year would start learning about the pioneer days, end with the Revolutionary War and then repeat the next year. It was the same when I was in public school. I swear we never learned past the Civil War when I was in school, so by the time I graduated I knew very little about history beyond the Civil War. At least I knew all there was about Pennsylvania history, though.
I’m sure I’ll update my homeschooling journey on here throughout the year and hopefully, it won’t be a tearful post, asking questions like “what was I thinking???”