To say that the coming school year is going to be stressful would be the world’s biggest understatement. I’ve been watching so many friends go through the stress of trying to decide what the best choice is for their kids…and no decision feels like it’s 100% right. I have some friends sending their kids into part time in person instruction, some switching to virtual public school, and some making the switch to homeschooling for the first time. But no matter what choices they are making, the one thing that seems to be unanimous is that everyone is terrified they are making the wrong choice and that there is not nearly enough information available to feel certain. Let me just say this now…no one knows what the right answer is. You are doing the best you can with the current circumstances and ultimately, all your kids need is to know that you are there to love and support them…and that you are worried and unsure sometimes just like they are and that’s OK!
If you’ve chosen to homeschool, let me say first, welcome to our amazing community, and I am sorry that you had to make this choice under these circumstances. Second…breathe! It’s ok to not have it all figured out. It’s ok to feel like you might be about to royally screw up your kids. It’s ok to not be excited about this. It’s ok to feel angry and bitter that you were forced into this choice. Here are a few things I’m seeing asked over and over in the homeschool groups on facebook by new homeschool parents (it’s ok…we love helping and we all probably asked the same questions when we started too).
- How should I set up our homeschool “classroom”?
Let me answer this first with a question…do you actually want a classroom in your home, or are you doing it because you think it’s what you are supposed to do? You do not need a designated room or space. I get it. I wanted to set one up myself in the beginning and went wild scrolling pinterest. But heading into our 3rd year, you know what’s happened? We rarely sit at a table and definitely are never in the same room. Sometimes we are learning on the couch, a bed, the floor, the dining table, the kitchen counter, the yard, the trampoline, a park, a car, a doctor’s office. That’s one of the beauties of homeschooling…you and your child are not tied to a desk. If you are stressed out by the idea of needing to create a classroom…let it go. You don’t need one more thing to stress over right now, and no one will require photos of a Pinterest worthy home classroom to validate your child’s education. Now, if the idea of creating this space fills you with joy and your kids are excited about it…go for it! There are some truly gorgeous ideas on Pinterest. Tag me in photos so I can oooh and ahhh over your mad decorating/organizational skills.
- What is the best homeschool curriculum?
This is a loaded question. There are so many options and so many factors to consider when choosing one. What works for someone else’s kid may be a nightmare for yours! Before asking this question, try to familiarize yourself with your child’s preferred learning styles, areas of interest, and any obstacles they may be facing (learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, etc). This can help other homeschoolers point you toward things that work for their child with similar needs. If you can, get your hands on some curriculum and look through them before deciding. And lastly…don’t be afraid to ditch a curriculum when it’s not working. This can be hard, especially if you’ve sunk some money into it. But it’s not worth the battles it will create between you and your child and the damage it will do to your child’s love of learning.
All that said, here is what I am personally using this year (I have one completely neurotypical child with some mild speech issues and one child with ADHD, ASD, ODD, and DMDD):
For science, we are using Adventures in Creation Level 1 for both children. This can be used in grades K-3
I like that this curriculum is open and shut with little extra preparation needed on my part. The lessons are story based, which help develop some lagging reading skills my boys struggle with. And the lessons are short enough that they don’t typically frustrate my child with special needs and we can cover our basics to set a foundation and then move into a more child led interest approach to learning throughout the rest of our day and building life skills and social skills. We did start off last year using some curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, and while it was an amazing curriculum, it just wasn’t a good fit for us. We also used Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool during our first year, which is a great free option, but again, it just wasn’t the right fit for us.
- What about socialization?
First of all, let me start by saying that these last several months have been hard for all of us, and I imagine it will continue into the new school year. But let me make this clear…sitting at home isolated from all of our friends, unable to participate in activities is not the norm for us homeschoolers either! We rarely had a day when we were home all day long before the pandemic began. My kids were used to meeting friends at parks, pools, indoor play areas, and the beach most days of the week. They had weekly scout meetings. We took trips to the library. Our youngest was looking forward to trying out t-ball. They had friends they looked forward to seeing at church every week. We had meet ups with small groups from church. We had multiple therapy appointments. We did not sit in our homes isolated all day long. With social media, there are so many ways to get plugged in with a community of other homeschoolers that fit your family.
I’m not sure what socializing will look forward going into this school year for us. We’ve got one child with immunocompromising health concerns and one who has regressed terribly in social skills during isolation that we are working to regain as we are able to do small outings and get back into non virtual therapies. But for us at least, I don’t think choosing a public school option would really help those problems based on the current plans released by our local schools. We are cautiously trying to interact with friends in small settings and get outdoors in places that aren’t crowded, but it’s still hard. You have to decide for yourself what environment your child will thrive in the most…but please know that homeschool does not have to equal complete social isolation. My youngest is a social butterfly and (under normal circumstances) me and my oldest constantly have to remind him that we have a lower threshold for social activities and reign him in or he would have us out and about with people from sun up to sun down every single day!
I hope that I was able to help ease some of your worries about homeschooling for the first time. Please know that I am happy to talk with you about homeschooling if you have more questions or just need some encouragement. You can e-mail me at anchoringthehomeblog.com or find me on Facebook and Instagram and send me a message.
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