Considering Homeschool?

A friend from college sent me a message asking about homeschooling. Her son is six, and was in a Montessori school in kindergarten, but that option was cost-prohibitive on an ongoing basis. She put him in the best public school available, but he was still not being challenged. She had some concerns about socialization if she opted for homeschooling (he is an only child). She asked for my insight into homeschooling, so I typed up this response (edited for privacy and clarity):

Some suggestions:

Look for some Facebook groups of parents in your area who are doing it. They can help with local activities, classes, co-ops, etc.

Public libraries often acquire museum memberships that you can check out for a few days at a time at no cost. They may have learning software on the computers in the kids’ section. They’ll also have DVDs, e-books, magazines, and maybe even packaged learning resources (e.g., a dinosaur kit, an exercise kit, etc.) to reinforce or introduce kids to various concepts. They may also have free/low-cost programs, classes, or interest groups you can attend with your son.

Where are you located? Check out the website for your state’s department of education to find out what the homeschool reporting requirements are, the state education standards, etc.

My friend Chrystal has been homeschooling for about 17-18 years. She did a YouTube/Facebook live video where she talked about her journey and shared specific resources she’s used/is using. Most (if not all) of the books I’d send you are from her video. Check your local library’s catalog to see if you can check them out.

I do an online co-op for online access to platforms like Adventure Academy, Splash Math, Math Seeds / Reading Eggs, piano lessons (which I bought but haven’t tried yet 🤦🏾‍♀️), cooking lessons (see last parenthetical comment 😂), foreign language exposure, etc. I also have purchased PDF downloads for curriculum resources through the online co-op. Those downloads were very helpful last year and for preschool. Print and go. She knew she was to go to her workboxes every day to pull out her worksheets, and if she had a question about what she could do, she knew to go to that day’s drawer. (Remind me and I’ll take a photo of her cart to give you an idea of the setup we’ve used in the past.)

Our local YMCA has a homeschool group that meets every Wednesday from 11am-2pm. They have pool time, eat lunch, do an art/science project/craft, and have playtime. A couple of times, they’ve done field trips. It’s drop-off, so I can maintain my sanity by being away from her for a couple of hours every week. 😏

I also have her in a swim class at the Y on Wednesday mornings before the group meets. My hope is that she will want to compete on the YMCA’s swim team. I plan to take her to some meets so she can catch the vision. 😉

I do a homeschool co-op on Friday mornings. Last fall I taught a jazz appreciation class—SO FUN! I’ve opted to do as little as possible this year so I can have that time for whatever I need it to be: reading, studying, resting, shopping, etc. So I’m on a rotating schedule where I show up once a month to be a floater. I fill in wherever‘s needed that morning: in the nursery, helping with gym class, setting up a classroom, filling in for a parent-teacher who’s home with a sick kid, etc. The more you do, the greater your tuition discount. Helpful for parents of multiple kids.

I took our daughter to the NMAAHC a year or two ago. It’s only 2-3 hours away, and we made a day of it. I packed lunch and snacks, and we might’ve hit Chick-Fil-A for dinner.

We have zoo and aquarium memberships. I had one to the Crayola Experience a couple of years ago, but let it lapse because it just wasn’t practical for us to go often, and I think she had outgrown it.

I’ve been keeping it pretty simple the past couple of years: I mostly use a first grade workbook I picked up from Aldi for about $4 for math and phonics. I check out loads of books from the library. I recently started using public school textbooks a friend with older kids in another state gave me. In my area, when you register your child as a homeschooler, the district gives you textbooks. (Our daughter doesn’t have to be officially registered until next year, so I don’t have the books from our area. This has been a trial-run year for me.) You may also have access to supplemental activities and classes (music, art, gym, sports teams, etc.). Check with your district.

I have a few friends from my church who are public school teachers. One sister in particular has been very encouraging to me in this journey. When I have considered going another way, either because of feeling inadequate or out of frustration with our little one, she affirms the choice to homeschool. She taught second grade last year and said she could have put our daughter in her class and she would’ve held her own (aside from the social and emotional maturing that needed to occur in her).

Many people who question homeschooling comment that homeschool kids aren’t going to be well-adjusted socially. NOT TRUE and SUPER ANNOYING to me when people say that. Just because they aren’t in a traditional environment doesn’t mean they aren’t socializing! I took our little one to story time, children’s church, child watch at the Y when I worked out, her Y homeschool group and swim class, her Friday co-op—all places where she’d see the same friends week in and week out. She goes with us when we do whatever we’re doing (rehearsals for example), so she’s got a tribe of “aunties” and “uncles” to cheer her on. It took her some time to come out of her shell, but we prayed, and God answered our prayers and honored our work towards that end.

This is stream of consciousness, but I hope it’s a helpful primer to get your juices flowing! Feel free to bounce things off me. I’ll be glad to help if I can!

Another note: Much of the curriculum is from a whitewashed, Eurocentric perspective. You can use your own book lists, resources, and creativity to teach the standards in ways that affirm his identity and personhood in culturally relevant ways, capture his imagination, etc. You’ll often have to decide if you want to spend time or if you’d rather spend money. You may choose to spend time in one area and money in another to give your son the educational experiences you want him to have.

I hope this helps!

My friend was grateful for my input, and encouraged me in my decision to homeschool our little girl. We moms need all the cheerleading we can get! I sent her this reply:

Thank YOU for the encouragement I have some days where I feel like giving up, where I question my effectiveness as a teacher, where I want to pull out my locs because she won’t listen, where I wonder if she’ll turn out okay…then I remember that I’m not doing this because it’s popular or sexy, but out of conviction that it’s God who’s calling me to this in this season, and that this is the best thing for her. I often wish I lived in an area where accessible public education was an option (even if I needed to supplement it at home), but that’s not the case for us. I’m always encouraged when I see parents who are ahead of me on this journey and their kids are flourishing…and the moms still have all their locs, so to speak. 😂

I’m so glad this was helpful! I’m grateful for the moms who have patiently answered my questions over the years. So glad I can do the same for you!

Another hint: Join your state’s homeschool association. You can get discounts at stores like Michael’s, Joann’s, and A.C. Moore, as well as access to info about state homeschooling laws, conventions, etc. Again, most of those spaces will be monocultural, but they may provide access to resources that you can tailor to suit your own needs.

Side note: I can’t tell you how many printouts I’ve colored in the kids, hands, dolls, etc., to be brown-hued to provide a sense of affirmation in the imagery I place in front of our daughter. She asked me at some point, “Are you coloring them AGAIN?” Yes, baby, I sure am.

If you’re considering the homeschool journey for your family, I hope this information was helpful to get your juices flowing about how it might work for you!

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