I’m not going to lie – I just wrote that title and had to stop and think about if it’s really been four months since school started. Have we really survived? Have we really made it a full semester? Are we for real still doing this thing? We are, we are, we are! I cannot believe it. If I had a penny for every time I’ve considered putting them back in school, we’d have more than a handful of pennies.
But yet, here we are four months in, and I’m feeling pretty empowered (at least today…!) to finish up the second half of the school year homeschooling. We embarked on this journey without a road map of any kind, and A JOURNEY IT HAS BEEN.
I have a million and one thoughts about homeschooling, but I’ll cut straight to the chase and say that I absolutely, positively love it 95% of the time. I’ve come up with that percentage because 19 out of 20 days I am filled with gratefulness for the wisdom I was hit with in the kitchen that mid-July day to homeschool.
But there’s that one pesky day every so often where Jamie comes home from work and I’m either crying, super moody, or just don’t want to talk because I’m done, I’m done, I’m done and I just can’t do all of this at the same time anymore.
But inevitably, the next day I’m over it and we have the very best homeschool day. It just goes in waves. Bless my husband.
Another thing I’ll cut straight to the chase about: all three girls are definitely going back to in-person school next year if conditions with COVID have improved to allow for some predictability and new normalcy. While I love many aspects of homeschool very much, I can’t continue to homeschool and work from home. If it’ll be another year like this year though, they’ll be homeschooled again.
Now that I’ve summed up how we feel about homeschool as a whole, here are some smaller, broken down details about how the last five months have been.
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling this Year
Pros (in no particular order):
- The girls get to be with each other all day, every day, and their friendships with each other are rock solid. All three of them are obsessed with each other.
- No more rushed mornings of a sleepy Hadley waking up to her alarm clock, arguing over her eating breakfast (she’s rarely hungry first thing in the morning), or rushing over getting dressed and out the door. Our mornings are calm and a sweet time for our family.
- No more packing lunches! Praise.
- No more keeping up with school schedules (i.e. what themed day is today, what do I need to send in for this or that, etc.) Mentally, our schedule is so much lighter, and it’s WONDERFUL.
- We’ve saved so much money on clothes! The big girls have plenty of clothes and shoes, but I probably would have bought them more if they were in school. Now I don’t care if they mostly rotate the same 10 outfits that they love. Whatever!
- I get to be their teacher, which has been very gratifying for me to watch them learn and apply new concepts.
- We get to move at a tempo that is right for them academically. If Hadley nails a concept easily, we move right along. If she’s stumbling a bit on something and it’s not clicking quite yet, we slow down and work on it until she gets it. First grade is such a crucial “learn to read” year, and teaching her how to really do it has been AWESOME.
- No more getting off the bus and seeing her occasionally sad because someone left her out, or hearing her say a phrase that she learned at school that I’m not too happy about. I get to keep her in this protected little wing just a smidge longer. 😉
- School only takes about two hours each day. Sometimes less, sometimes more.
- We have extra time for an additional dance class, weekly private speech therapy, and piano.
- We’re able to spend more time with grandparents.
- We’re unaffected by the constantly-changing school situation (i.e virtual, then in-person, then hybrid, back and forth quarantined, etc.)
- I generally love that we get to do everything together. I feel like they’re learning so much just by going about my day with me. We try to make as much into a learning opportunity as we can.
Struggles of Homeschooling
- Trying to get into a rhythm of what time of day to do school, how much school to do each day, etc. has literally taken the entire semester, but now we’re good.
- I’ve occasionally felt curious if I was keeping Hadley on par with what she should be learning and where she should be. Thankfully my neighbor (who also has a first grader) sends me screenshots of her daughter’s work so that I know if we’re where we should be!
- I literally couldn’t do all that “I” do if I didn’t have help. I try to be very honest that I have a lot of help from my right-hand girl Erin, who comes 15 hours a week. My mother-in-law comes over all day on Thursdays, and my mom comes over at the drop of a hat whenever I need her.
- Homeschooling means that the kids are with me all day, every day unless I bring in reinforcement to help us out, and it’s a lifesaver.
- Deciding to homeschool three months after I launched a business that I’d invested SO much into was an insane idea, and it’s been hard. I had to give up my morning workouts so that I can work from 5 – 7 a.m., and then from there I just squeeze in 2-3 hours of work when I can. It’s really hard though.
- Homeschooling a pre-k student and 1st grader with a baby/toddler at home is REALLY DIFFICULT, and honestly, I don’t think we’d be able to do it well without another adult entertaining Jillian. I’ve read that some families that have a baby/toddler at home wait to do school until that long afternoon nap, but for me, I need that time to work. Again why I need those helping hands that I’m so grateful for. Nobody can actually do it all. Something has to give.
- I miss seeing the joy the girls would have as they shared what they did at school. They have both always LOVED (!) school and every little thing about it. I look forward to them enjoying all of that again.
- I miss the joy of seeing them make their own new little friends in their classes. Thankfully we’ve been able to give them time to play with and be around kids their ages 5+ times a week, so I don’t think they’re missing a beat socially. But again, I miss hearing them come home and tell me about a new best friend they made on their own. 🙂
- If school takes longer than an hour, Hadley will sometimes start complaining, and we’ve had to really work on that. We take stretch breaks or play outside or have a snack. In general though we’ve had to work on expectations and learning that first grade is tough stuff and that school is her job right now, and it might take more than an hour that day of working on it.
Other swirling thoughts
- I know without a shadow of a doubt that God was preparing me to homeschool for a while without ever realizing it. I remember asking my good friend Kayla (who also homeschools) questions all the time about it just because I was curious. I NEVER wanted to homeschool (ever!), but all of our conversations (just out of “curiosity”) really helped me set expectations for what homeschooling should look like.
- The flexibility is the best. thing. ever.
- I do think that having a background in education has helped me in this journey. My former teaching strategies come out all the time, which have been helpful.
- One reason I’ll for sure send the kids back to public school eventually is because the material is going to get too tough for me to teach. 😉 I know that I could teach it, but I imagine that giving them a more quality education at home would take more of my time than it does now, and honestly the “extra time” is just hard to find.
- I think homeschool is a really, really, really great option for a lot of families who don’t even realize it.
- I also think that lack of accountability with homeschooling (at least in Alabama) is terrifying, and there’s a lot of families that are homeschooling that probably shouldn’t be.
- I really look forward to the girls going back to public school next year, but I will also really, really, sorely miss so much about homeschool too. Such great options that are so different from each other.
Ah, that was a whole heck of a lot of rambling. Like I said, this has all been a complete whirlwind and truly a “learning as we go” kind of thing. I’ve tried to give my kids the absolute best while also working a new job that I love (so much) and run the house, etc. etc. etc. You know – all the things that we ALL juggle in one way or another! 🙂
If you have questions about homeschooling, feel free to get in touch! I’m no expert and could surely do a lot of things better, but know the few things I know and would be happy to talk more privately.
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo