Living Your Homeschool Life

The online homeschooling community can encourage and inspire us. It can also cause us to second guess ourselves and wondering if we’re doing things “the right way.”

Well, friends, here’s the good news / bad news:

There are lots of different “right” ways to homeschool.

(And actually, when you get right down to it, lots of different “right” ways to educate our children, period. Especially in 2020! For some families public, private, parochial, Christian, or some hybrid thereof may be the right path.)

Social Media can be particularly bad about making homeschool moms feel inadequate.

Here are some examples of homeschool families I’ve seen around the internet:

(Forgive the stereotyping. I know we’re all more nuanced than this!)

Family #1:

Does every cool field trip. Seems to be out and about every day (and posts cute photographic evidence). Have memberships at every local museum, zoo, park, and botanical garden. Their children take every class offered by the library, Home Depot, and Michaels Craft store. This mom posts more opportunities for going somewhere to learn about something than there are days in the week.

Family #2:

Their children participate in every sport, competitively. There are so many sports related stickers on their minivan windows that you’re not sure how they see out. This family is always on their way to a practice, a game, or a workshop related to their sport(s) of choice.

Family #3:

Raises their own garden and livestock. Their children know how to harvest crops and breed chickens (and / or goats, pigs, horses, etc.). They live in overalls and boots. They may tell wry jokes about the “simple” life.

Family #4:

This family is academically driven. Their teens are double (or TRIPLE) enrolled in high school and college classes. They’ll graduate at 16 with an honors college degree. No child in this family has ever scored lower than a 95% on a test. They’re probably writing a book about how easy it is to get into the Ivy League school of their choice.

Family #5:

This family un-schools. Their kids are making movies at age 11 or publishing fantasy novels by age 9. Their children seem to have a clearer sense of who they are and what they want to be at age 12 than you do at age forty-something. One of their kids knows a lot about Ancient Egypt but doesn’t know his own address.

Time doesn’t permit me to tell of the family who seem to live in a library of gorgeous wall to wall shelving or the family who attend a different co-op every day of the week.

And you and I look and we…don’t fit.

We don’t fit any of those stereotypes. I know I don’t.

I hate going somewhere every day. Although we do purchase a zoo membership that we try to use a few times year.

No one in my family is athletically inclined. We don’t play any sports currently, although we have tried a few in the past. And we will probably try a few more in the future, depending on what our 5 kids who are currently homeschooling want to do. We do have 3 children in dance classes right now. Does Dance count?

We don’t have a garden or any livestock (unless you count a very friendly cat who keeps down the rodent population and a crazy mutt who digs trenches in our backyard). I have a black thumb and my husband has a low tolerance for animals and no time for a large garden. Plus, we live in the suburbs.

We don’t push our kids to be academically advanced. Our oldest decided against dual enrollment, even though the local community college offers it. (She’s enrolled there now, in the Honors program which included a scholarship.)

We skip standardized testing until our kids are in high school, when they take the ACT as many times as they want until they get the score they want for the school they want. (For our oldest, this meant twice.)

While I’m sympathetic to some principles of unschooling, we’re not actually True Believers in the philosophy. Our children are still figuring out who they are and what they want to do.

I definitely make them do some things they don’t really want to do.

And they have to do their math even if we play Prime Climb later. (In other words, games are for reinforcing learning, not in place of formal learning in our house.)

Our house suits us and we’re surrounded by books and other things we like, but it’s not carefully edited or curated for Instagram. (OK, I admit: sometimes I shove stuff to one side and take a picture of some of my favorite shelves.)

We attend one co-op and we love it, but I can’t imagine trying to keep up with more than one.

We’re homeschooling in the way that works for us right now.

It’s not for Instagram. I don’t update FB every day with what we’ve done that day.

It’s just…our life.

We’re living it. No one else has to copy it or try to live up to it.

You can do that, too.

And if you fit one of the above stereotypes, or you’re attempting to: that’s great. We’re cheering you on. Because you ought to be living the life your family wants to live.

Let’s just make sure we don’t forget to, you know, live it while we’re posting it on the ‘gram.

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