I have a tidbit of trivia for you. People are opinionated. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. The only way. Anyone doing it differently is misled, misinformed, or mistaken. Or all three at the same time. In the South, we say “bless their heart” to these people. Loosely translated, we’re calling them an idiot.
Homeschoolers are no different. If you talk to 100 homeschooling moms, you’ll get 100 different variations on homeschooling. Every single one of them will probably think their way is the “right” way. And every single homeschooling mom listening to them evangelize their own way of homeschooling will be thinking, “bless her heart.”
You may have heard some of the flavors of homeschooling.
- Charlotte Mason
- Unit Studies
I made up one of those. I bet you can’t guess which one.
But it goes to show you that everyone has an opinion on how to homeschool. None more than people who don’t actually homeschool.
So, here’s a homeschool myth buster for you.
There is no one right way to homeschool.
One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is teaching to the child’s needs and interests. That may fit nicely into a philosophical box. Or it may not. I’d be willing to bet gummy bears that the learning style of most children does not fit into one box of pre-planned, augmented, do-it-for-me curriculum.
As a teacher, I wish it did. As a mom, I know better.
Each of my children is a unique individual with radically different thoughts, temperaments, learning styles, and needs. Radically. Different. No joke.
Different is good. Different is normal. Different is why we homeschool.
We want to tailor an educational journey to fit our child’s strengths and weaknesses. If one is a late reader, there’s no need to stress her out by doing more and more worksheets and flash cards to “catch up.” Instead, enjoy more time reading aloud with her, encouraging her to recognize words and sound out new ones. Make reading a joy, not a chore.
Likewise, if another child enjoys building model cars or planes, that is not time wasted. What a great activity to teach physics, geometry, and math without ever cracking a book.
We do plenty of book work. We read textbooks and complete worksheets, but those activities are to supplement the real schooling of life. My daughter recently discovered the profound importance of understanding fractions while baking cookies. 1 3/4 cups of flour is one cup plus 3/4 of a cup – not a single 3/4 cup. Fractions in everyday life matter, and suddenly she doesn’t hate them quite as much.
One style of homeschooling that I did not include in the above list is known as eclectic. I don’t know if there is an actual definition for eclectic homeschooling, other than a smidge of this and a pinch of that. I’d say we fall into this category.
We read textbooks for science and history, but we also watch videos, read biographies, and visit museums. Just today, we watched YouTube videos on Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. It is unlikely we will ever visit the Vatican, so it’s pretty cool to see real footage from other people who have been there. Did you know the ceiling is almost the size of a football field? Can you imagine painting that and keeping up with where you are in the painting every day. Mind blowing.
We love to visit museums, and plan at least one museum trip a year. We’ve been to Washington on the Brazos, the birthplace of Texas, where you can dress up in pioneer clothes and pretend to be Texians, as the first settlers were called. Another time I took them with me on a business trip to Dallas, and we went to the Dallas Museum of Art. I was warned by security to stand back from more than a few paintings. What can I say? I have to get close enough to see the brush strokes.
Homeschooling is what you make of it.
My biggest piece of advice to any homeschooler, whether it’s a new mom or a burned out mom, is to take the time to enjoy learning. It can become drudgery. Day in and day out, it’s about adding, subtracting, spelling, correcting, reminding, encouraging, crying, apologizing, and doing it all again.
When it gets overwhelming, stop and do something fun. Watch a silly video (Conjunction Junction is my favorite for grammar). Take a dream vacation through someone’s YouTube video. We recently visited the Forbidden City with two young girls who gave us a great commentary.
You don’t have to recreate a classroom environment, even if you have enough kids to fill a classroom, like we do. You don’t have to do it like Kasey Know-It-All, my friend who is the expert on how everything should be done. That’s the homeschool myth.
Note: Kasey is not a real person. She’s simply the conglomeration of the many types of people I’ve met over the years who have all the answers to every question. When meeting a Kasey, I have learned to smile, nod, and wander off as quickly as possible.
Instead, be a Jeri Jewel, my real-life friend who always leaves everyone she meets with a laugh, a smile, and a word of encouragement. I can bump into her for just a minute and suddenly feel like I can do anything.
Do it your way for your child. Try a little of this and some of that. Find what works for you. Mix it up with read alouds and games and puzzles. Change your background by doing school in the yard or at a park. Take a field trip or two or three.
If you teach your child to love learning instead of dreading schoolwork, you will have succeeded.
What homeschool myth have you busted lately?