Teacher appreciation day is coming up and that means one thing: time to hit Pinterest! So off I went to look for cute ways to say thank you. As I looked around the same website that I look for preschool printables or home learning activities almost daily, I was reminded of homeschool moms. How do they do it?!
I reached out to my friend and San Diego Moms Blog owner, Jenna Skora, for some insight into the life of a homeschooling mama. She currently homeschools her daughters aged 8 and 5.
When did you decide to homeschool?
I technically started homeschooling when my oldest was a toddler. We would do tons of arts and crafts together, nature walks, gardening, and even when we went to the Zoo or Sea World (we used to have year passes!), it would always turn into an educational day. I was enjoying teaching her, and when my second baby came along, I knew I wanted to keep it going! I thought I would give it a try at home when my oldest was kinder age. That way, if it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t feel like I had damaged her learning, and she could go to school in the first grade if necessary.
What method/curriculum do you use?
So, we basically started with an umbrella program where they give us the curriculum and we had specific bullet points we had to hit. After a few years of getting the hang of homeschooling, and switching programs a few times, we have come to a point where we are able to choose our own curriculum, and we only use it or follow along with it if we want. I would call my method more of a “child-led” method, because I basically let my 3rd grader learn what she wants. If she decides that she wants to read about Amelia Earhart this week, we go to the library and pick up a bunch of books, and start learning about it. We of course mix in the basics, but that’s not the bulk of what we learn. Same goes for my kinder. We need to make sure she has the fundamentals down, but I also let her choose whatever books she wants to read to me and we create our own lessons based off that.
What is the biggest challenge you face in homeschooling?
Honestly, my biggest challenge is not letting others affect the judgement of me and my husbands decision to take on homeschooling. My husband plays just as important of a role as I do in our children’s education. The girls love when daddy teaches them, because he has a whole different approach then I do. I hear these comments (judgement) all the time:
Do your kids get enough social interaction?
Don’t you think they are missing out on spending time with their friends?
Don’t you want some alone time?
Do you think you can teach them as well as a teacher?
In my opinion, homeschooling isn’t hard when you find the right program, the right method and the patience you need to take this on.
What is something great that you never expected?
I never expected my children to flourish at home! I actually expected to get frustrated (it does happen sometimes) and be “behind” the other children that were getting “normal education”. I also expected to feel like I wasn’t doing a good job. My eight year old started the year as a second grader, tested out in the Winter, and is now finishing out the year as a third grader… never would have imagined that when I first started!
How do you manage time for yourself when aren’t actually alone?
That’s a great question! I have a business to run, a fire wife schedule, (which means that the husband is gone a few days at a time) and all their extra activities, including their homeschool lessons, so alone time is pretty slim. Luckily, my wonderful husband takes over on the days he’s home, especially if I have extra work to get done. Also, the girls have a one hour “quiet reading time” most days, where they catch up on either some leisure reading, or I occasionally allow them to play educational games on their tablets. They have been raised to be pretty independent, so they take a lot of time to play in the backyard, or “build hideouts” in their rooms if I absolutely need to get a few things done.
There has so be so much preparation and lesson planning, how do you find time for that?
I am pretty unconventional.
I. Don’t. Plan.
*GASP*. I used to spend hours upon hours every single weekend planning out lessons. I would tear out pages of books and have the worksheets all lined up for each day. I would put library books on hold so that they fit within my lessons, and print out worksheets that I found to go with it. Honestly, it’s EXHAUSTING, and you only get frustrated if your child isn’t keeping up with your schedule. They get frustrated, you are frustrated, and you find yourself counting down the days until break.
I found a program that let’s me do what I want, with only one worksample to turn in per month. Insert child-led homeschooling. It’s almost considered unschooling sometimes. If my husband is home and decides he want to take them on a hike, we switch it up and learn about the hiking area and get our exercise in for the day. When we get home we look up a few native plants and animals from the hike, talk or write about it, and call it a day.
What is something you’d like to change about the public perception of homeschooling moms and homeschooled children?
The public perception of homeschooling is still that of what it was years back before homeschooling became more popular: homeschooled children aren’t “strange” or “unsocialized” or “outcasts”. People have a skewed perception of “homeschoolers” and lump us all into that group. Also, homeschooling moms aren’t “helicopter parents”. As a homeschooling mom, even though I do not have a teaching degree, I simply feel like I (and my husband) am the best teacher for my children.
Do you plan on homeschooling throughout their education? Would you be open to changing your plan if your girls asked to attend a local school?
Our plan right now is to homeschool up until high school. Middle school is absolutely BRUTAL nowadays, so there is not a chance that we will let the girls make that choice as a new teen. By highschool, I have a feeling that they will be taking college preparatory classes anyways, so it might be good for them to get that high school/college experience if they want it. They likely won’t ask to attend a local school (anytime soon) because they are surrounded by other homeschooling families, but if they asked, there would be some lengthy discussions about it.
What is your advice to local moms thinking about homeschooling? Do you know of any local resources or groups that you recommend?
My advice is to do your research and be patient. You have to find a program that works for you and your child, and that might take a few tries. The patience also goes for giving your child grace. You have to learn to pick up on and adapt to your child’s learning style or it will be a constant struggle. You can’t give up because it takes time, but you can do it! There are PLENTY of facebook groups for homeschooling moms to get connected with. I recommend looking it up by your area, (which is why I won’t list any here) so you can attend any co-ops or groups that some of the local moms might be involved in, and they can also answer your questions about any particular charter or private or otherwise homeschooling program.
I’d like to thank Jenna for taking the time to answer these questions. Are there any questions you have for homeschoolers? Is this something you wish you’d done or hope to one day do?