From the first moment we see our children, we are teaching them. Right from birth, they are learning every day from our instruction. Most parents love teaching their babies how to make new movements, their toddlers how to pick out colours, and their little ones the fine art of... everything. Parents love telling their children about life and exposing them to new experiences regularly. Parents have many good reasons to homeschool in the first four or five years of their children’s lives.
Some parents continue being their children’s main teacher long past the preschool years, which is commonly called homeschooling. I’ve been educating my two boys (now nine and twelve) since birth, and I knew before they were born that I wouldn’t stop being their main teacher until they reach adulthood.
Taking on the education of your children may not be something you’ve ever thought of, but it just may be the lifestyle that works for your family. When my oldest son was old enough for kindergarten, I never thought of any alternative to school. It wasn’t until he had experienced almost 6 years of struggling academically that I considered what other options he had.
His inability to fit into the learning style of the public school system resulted in constant behavioural problems in the classroom, and he was getting more and more resistant to learning anything at school. I thought, “Is it possible that he could learn any less being at home with me than he is in school now?” When I decided that learning at home would be better for him than trying to make school learning work, I submitted my letter of intent to the school board, and he ended his 5th grade right before March Break.
He returned to public school in grade seven. His time away was mainly a break from the pressure of an educational approach that wasn’t geared to the way his brain worked. I did some learning work with him, but I’ll admit it wasn’t a lot. I remember him having a negative view of learning and being frustrated just having a piece of paper in front of him to complete. His return to school wasn’t a difficult adjustment academically. In retrospect, I would have liked to have homeschooled him longer, but I didn’t feel very confident and our living circumstances had changed. I wasn’t working at home anymore,and I lacked the knowledge and support that could have helped me see a way to still make home education work.
Within a couple of years of homeschooling my oldest son, I had my second son and knew that I would do whatever it took to give him a personal education at home. When he was about seven years old, we started with structured learning in a very eclectic style, but before that we just seized the learning opportunities as they came. My third son got a more structured learning approach a little earlier mainly because I was planning learning time with his older brother so he got the formal teaching when he was around five years old. I didn’t have it all together back then and was far from the perfect picture of a homeschooling mom. It seemed like so many other moms were much more organized and knowledgeable than I was, but I stood strong on my desire to give them an education that was based on their development, personalities and learning style.
What It Takes to Homeschool
I want to share a few facts about home education to show that any parent is qualified to teach their children any and all subjects.
- Educating your own children takes nowhere near the same amount of time that your children are in school. We spend 3-4 days a week working through an eclectic mix of online and offline curriculum which averages about 3 hours a day. Some work they are able to do fairly independently (most days), and other work I guide them through.
- You don’t need to know much about any subjects for your kids to learn effectively. What is most important is that you know your child well enough to know their learning style (lots of resources available to figure that out) and interested enough in their well-being to research the plethora of learning material and programs to find the ones that are the best fit for them.
- Homeschooling is not expensive. We probably spend less money on educational materials and subscriptions that most parents spend on school-related expenses. For the first few years of formal homeschooling, I barely spent anything on learning resources. There is so much available online for free and I collected many used books that we worked from for their elementary foundational learning.
- There is no lack of social opportunities for homeschooling families. The social aspect is one of the popular reasons to homeschool. The best part of homeschool socialization is that there are rarely big groups of children together without adults being close at hand to interact and oversee their social behaviour. Most homeschoolers are similar to us in that we have our kids involved in recreational and instructional classes, church groups, gatherings with area homeschool groups, family events and one-on-one time with friends. Homeschoolers are rarely age-segregated, and they socialize with kids and adults of all ages.
- You don’t need to be highly self-disciplined and a picture of patience. I’m not real strong in either of those areas but better than I was – and getting better all the time! I didn’t decide to homeschool my boys because I love to teach or because I love being around them all day every day. I homeschool them because I know that’s what’s best for them. I do enjoy seeing them learn and grow, and I cherish the time I have with them now because I know it won’t be too many years before they’ll be leading their own lives.
If I think back at my reasons to homeschool my boys, I’d say it was to give them an education that suits their learning style and interests. However, the longer I educate my children the more reasons I discover why a customized education is right for them and for our family.
I started writing this before extended school closures were announced. Many parents are now looking for resources and guidance on how to educate their children, and as a homeschooling mom who also happens to work in the homeschooling industry, it is amazing to see so many homeschooling companies offering limited-time access to their online curriculum and quickly organizing outreach and instruction to families that want to teach their kids. When our public and private schools re-open, I’m sure the majority of children will return to the institutional-based learning, but I’m also sure that there will be many parents that realize the benefits of home education and that they can totally handle it.
Stephanie Morrison has been building businesses, mostly from home, for over 10 years, motivated by her strong determination that her two youngest boys would be educated at home. She works for The Old Schoolhouse® on the Canadian team, and also coaches entrepreneurs to start and grow their business from home. Her and her family are all comfortably nestled in the trees in Central Ontario. She loves being a home-body and building up her permaculture property. Learn more about Steph at www.creatingworkandplay.com