After six years, we decided to take a break from homeschooling last fall and we enrolled our three oldest children in public school. It was a gut-wrenching decision that I waffled back and forth on for months.
While I’m glad that they’ve had the experience of attending public school (and that I had a quieter home in which to finish my own schooling), I have every intention of coming back to homeschooling. In fact, my husband and I have decided to bring all three back home after this school year.
But this time, I think I’ll have a different perspective.
What I Miss about Homeschooling
I miss the relaxed, easygoing times with my kids. I miss dropping our school lessons and heading to the park on a whim. I miss taking turns reading aloud. I miss making muffins for them. I even miss struggling to help one of the kids understand a concept, because that moment when they finally get it is so, so sweet.
Most of all, I just miss them. When we spend more time together, we grow closer. Now that everyone’s running in a different direction, it feels as if something has been “lost”. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to rediscover that connection.
Interestingly, I don’t miss my old homeschooling approach. I was a very old-fashioned educator who used lots of books, written work, and quizzes. (Think: the one-room schoolhouse in Anne of Green Gables.) This time around, though, I think I’ll make a few changes to my homeschooling method.
What I Want to Do Differently This Time Around
First, I want to scale back on planning. I am a planning machine. I will write down detailed lesson plans meticulously for the first six weeks and then kill myself trying to do everything on the list. Kids can’t learn when they’re pressured and moms can’t teach when they’re stressed. So the planning is getting scaled back quite a bit.
Instead of focusing on specific learning objectives, I want to cover general concepts with the kids and then use more of an interest-based approach. That way, they’ll be free to take their time with the things they really love, while still covering the necessities. It’s not “unschooling” per se, but it’s definitely not the regimented approach I’ve used in the past.
And I’ll be focusing a lot more on life skills. Book smarts are wonderful and they can get you places, but kids who show responsible, respectful behavior can often go even further. You can always learn from a textbook later, but respect and responsibility are hard to pick up as you get older, right?