This is a brand new era: COVID19. This time has been fraught with so many conflicting reports, so many unknowns and so much fear. We now wear masks to go grocery shopping and all sports and extracurricular activities have ceased or have many prohibitive requirements. Playdates and family gatherings have new expectations and precautions. If your children attended public or private school, their learning has moved to more of a virtual classroom or some kind of a hybrid class and some of you may even find yourself in a brand new place considering home education of some kind. If you have chosen this path or this path has landed in your lap by a process of elimination, may I be one of the first to welcome you on this journey! I am sending out a big virtual hug to you all! By way of encouragement, from one homeschooling Mama to another, I just wanted to say, You Can Do This!
Think back with me for a moment: you taught your little one how to eat solid food, but you weren’t an occupational therapist. You taught your baby how to walk, but you weren’t a physical therapist. You took care of them when they were sick and when they got hurt, but you weren’t a doctor. You have taught them how to take care of their toys, do chores, be kind, have manners, how to play board games. You know how long they can sit still and when they need to burn energy. You can read their moods and stop a tantrum in its tracks with a little empathy and a well-timed hug. You know when they have had too much going on and they need a down day. You help mediate conflicts with their siblings. You can tell when they are sick by looking into their eyes. You establish family traditions and celebrate successes, you share inside jokes and shared memories. Of course, you can teach them academic subjects! Is it a big job? Of course! Will you feel like you have it all figured out? Well, no. (If you do, let me in on the secret because I don’t feel like that...every year brings a new age, new levels of maturity, and changing needs....flexibility is KEY!) But you can get it done. Not only that, but you can thrive!
As a second-generation homeschooler, our family decided to homeschool our children through a bit of a different path. I was educated at home by my parents from first grade through twelfth grade. I received my BS from the University of Central Florida in Communication Disorders (speech and language therapy) and then decided to pursue certification as an interpreter for the Deaf following my graduation through a few more years attending Valencia College. I worked as an educational interpreter for the Deaf for 9 years in an elementary school. It was my first time in a public elementary school. =) I watched, listened and learned so much while I was there and when we had our first child, Jeff and I discussed at length what kind of education we wanted for her. We ultimately decided to teach her at home. For us, home education was a decision based on our philosophy of learning, how we wanted to raise our family, and the freedom and flexibility we wanted to be able to teach according to their specific learning styles, travel when we could, encourage curiosity and pursue individual passions. We chose this life.
Many of you are finding it thrust upon you because of a lack of options or perceived safety. My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be! Even if this homeschooling thing is an “I don’t have a choice” situation, you do have a choice in your attitude. While you may not be able to attend homeschooling conferences, hear speakers, see the curriculum, and get inspired and motivated, you can choose to not be frustrated or resentful and choose to see this as an adventure. You may not choose to homeschool after COVID, but you will have one whole year learning and growing and adventures with your child and that is a precious commodity that cannot be monetized. And I will tell you, your attitude toward this whole thing will impact your student far more than you think it will. If you are excited and open, and willing to jump into this new adventure, you will end up teaching your child far more valuable skills than just addition or grammar. You will be teaching them how to pivot, how to be flexible, how to take lemons and make them lemonade, how to do difficult things, and be cheerful even when you are scared, or frustrated, or when the road gets rocky. You will be teaching them how to be a part of a team, that you are on their side, and that you love them enough to learn new things, be inconvenienced, and change your plans. These skills are not taught in school, but I guarantee you they will need to call on these skills in life, in their jobs, in their relationships. I do not claim to be an expert or have it all together. However, I do have eight years of homeschooling experience under my belt and 20 years of participation in the homeschooling world. This will be my first year having four students in our home classroom: 8th, 6th, 2nd, and Kindergarten, with a 3-year-old along for the ride! We are in this together!
In an effort to help in any way I can, I will begin a series of posts to offer you a hand along this new journey.