4 truths about homeschooling

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The following is a guest post by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

You’d think, after 12 years, I’d have this homeschooling thing down. Nope! I’m still learning new things about myself, my kids, and what new seasons of homeschooling look like.

We’re in a brand-new season this year and, I’ll be honest, it’s pretty awesome. We graduated our oldest last May. She’s living at home, working, and going to cosmetology school, leaving me homeschooling my middle school girl and my freshman boy.

This new season has driven home for me 4 truths about homeschooling.

One of these, I learned many years ago, but have been reminded of this year. Three, after all these years homeschooling, are brand-new to me — or, at least, are being shown to me in a brand-new light.

1. The experts are not experts on your kids.

When I first began formal learning with my younger two kids, all the “experts” said that we should only work for 15 or 20 minutes at a time and take short breaks. I quickly learned that that didn’t work for us. It took twice as long as the actual break to get them refocused and back on task. It was much more realistic to just make sure I changed up our activities every 15 or 20 minutes than to actually take a break.

You are your kid’s parent. Feel free to try all the homeschooling advice that sounds reasonable, but don’t sweat it if it doesn’t work for your family.

2. Just because something doesn’t work at one point, doesn’t mean it never will.

Those breaks that we couldn’t take when my kids were little? They’re working out great now that they’re teens. There are still a few subjects that we work on together. It used to drive my boy nuts that his sister would need a bathroom break or a water break or a something break right in the middle of one of our group learning times.

I’ve eliminated that frustration this year by giving the kids a 5-10 minute break between each subject. They’d have gone off the rails with that a few years ago.

Now, it’s mutually beneficial because it gives them a chance to go to the bathroom, get a drink or a snack, or, more importantly, check and send a few quick texts and not feel as though they’re completely cut off from their friends all day — a huge deal when you school year round, but your friends don’t.

playing drumsPhoto by Kris

3. It’s important to find your kids’ passions.

I’ve heard this many times during the last 12 years of homeschooling and I’ve said it myself. I’ve even managed to successfully do it here and there (like when my oldest spent an entire school year studying World War I and II).

However, I don’t think I’ve seen it as acutely as I have during the last couple of weeks since that same kid, now graduated, has started cosmetology school. The kid who used to have to be nagged and reminded about school assignments is coming home excited about how quickly she’s progressing through tasks at school.

Last week, the kid who hated tests took a practice quiz that she didn’t have to take because she thought that seeing what she already knew and what she needed to study would help her on the actual test coming up. (Can you imagine if I’d been the one to suggest that?)

And, the younger brother and sister who are still at home? We’re using a new history curriculum that’s more project-based than anything we’ve done in the past. Both are currently working on individual projects that they chose themselves and the excitement is palpable.

Oh, and music? The boy never has to be reminded to play. Painting or creative writing? The girl never has to be nagged.

4. Independence rocks.

The elementary years are rather teacher-intensive, no? This year, my 7th and 9th grade kids are working much more independently than ever before. Independent learners rock!

I got both kids student planners at the beginning of the year. I thought my girl would enjoy hers — because she’s a lot like her mama — but I wasn’t sure the boy would be too impressed.

Using the planners has been going so well, though. It gives each kid a clear picture of what needs to be done each day. It also provides a place for each of them to plan out what needs to happen when in order to get their projects completed by the due date.

We do all of the work that needs to be completed together early in the day, leaving the afternoons free for their independent work — and free for me to do my work or household chores.

So, moms of littles, hang in there! Less mom-intensive days really do happen sooner than you think!

This new season of homeschooling has hammered home these 4 truths and has given me a renewed excitement for the year ahead.

What homeschooling truths have you learned or seen in a whole new light recently?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she’s old and alone.

Comments

  1. Firs to of all, I love it when Kris writes a post (Don’t get me wrong I love and find value in nearly every post that comes across this site.) This post is especially encouraging for me. I can’t wait to reach #4!
    Rita’s latest post: Happy Birthday Miss Addie

  2. #3 really stood out to me. My daughter wanted to take an entire year to study the American Revolution. At first I thought, “We can’t do that!” Then, I checked myself! Why can’t we do that? Isn’t that why we homeschool in the first place? 🙂 So, guess what she’s doing in history this year? Yep, the American Revolution and loving every minute of it!

  3. Very encouraging for a mom whose still in the “mom-intensive” days! I, too am excited for #4. That’s the whole point, right? Thanks for writing just what I needed to hear today.
    Rachel Weishaar’s latest post: Worth of a Woman – Chapter 5

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Kris! I agree with all your points, especially about finding your kids’ passions. Our oldest graduated last year and has expressed her gratitude about being able to pursue her passion(art) alongside her schooling. Homeschooling has been one of the best choices we’ve ever made!
    Heather @ Shards of Lavender’s latest post: Dulce de Leche Toffee Crunch Ice Cream

  5. I have 5 kids aged 7 and under. It’s a challenge, to be sure. I do look forward to the days when my kids are able to do most of their learning independently, although I try to relish these days when they are young, too.

  6. Thanks for sharing these truths with us – awesome reminders for new and old homeschoolers! I just had to share that we have a few things in common: my oldest graduated this spring, is staying at home, working, and is going to be going to cosmetology school (probably next spring)! I also have a freshman and a middle schooler. But, unlike you, I have a junior as well. 🙂

  7. The experts aren’t the experts on my kids has been such an important one for me to learn. Perhaps “Just because it makes sense on paper doesn’t mean it’ll work” goes right along with it. I’ll often read an idea and think it’s brilliant until we try it and realize for our family it’s not so brilliant. Holding ideas with an open hand is a sanity saver.
    Steph’s latest post: How to Dress When You Have No Fashion Sense

  8. When I started homeschooling three years ago I let go of what everyone had told me worked for their kid. I spent weeks looking for what would work best for my daughter. I loved the Charlotte Mason material I saw. I knew I would love teaching if. However, I knew from my daughter’s learning style it would not work for her. I decided on Rod and Staff for her. For science and history we do our own thing. Right now we are studying ancient history and biology.

    I think it is important to teach your child what they are interested in. For example my daughter loves the Little House series. So this year we are very slowly working our way through The Prairie Primer.

  9. Thanks for that great article! We are starting Year 2 of homeschool with 6th and 8th grade boys. I would like to know more about your #4. How do your children use a planner and what input do they need from you to be able to plan their days? My kids come from a private school setting where everything was explicitly spelled out for them so we are struggling with independence and initiative. Thanks for any tips!

    • They do things like figure out how many pages/day they need to read to finish a book by the due date and write that out in their planners. They will also figure out what needs to be done when to turn in a project by its due date and write the steps down on the appropriate days in their planners.

      Right now, I’m also giving them their independent work off a master schedule. For that, I’m still telling them every afternoon, “Okay, this is what you need to add to your planner.”

      However, I’m hoping to start passing that off as they get accustomed to using the planners and working responsibly and independently.

      Hope that helps!
      Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’s latest post: Our Top 5 Homeschool Shirts for 2014

  10. Thanks for the great post. Despite the encouragement to do what works for your own kids, I would love to know which planner YOU use. Last year was our first year homeschooling (four boys age 5-11) and I used an online one, but it was just a gateway to more screen time for all of us. I would like my two oldest to be more independent with time management, so I think a well-laid-out planner might work. Thanks!

  11. Aloha!

    Where can I buy the Warning: Unsocialized Homeschoolers t-shirts? What a rocking’ tee!

    Stephanie

  12. I have to ask – what are you using for a history curriculum? We’re struggling to find just the right fit for my reluctant learner, and I’m ready to try anything! 🙂

  13. grace greenwell says:

    At what age would you say most kids become independent learners?

  14. Tammy Estrada says:

    I have realized lately that my “poor, unsocialized” home schoolers are actually far more social than the public school kids we encounter at church, the library, etc. My girls aren’t the least bit hesitant to start a conversation, whereas non-home schoolers don’t seem to know how to interact outside their class cliques. Hmmmm….

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