What’s It Like to Homeschool?

what's it like to homeschool, homeschooling, how homeschooling works for us, why we homeschool

When people find out we homeschool there’s always a variety of responses most often, “I could never do that!” “How do you do it?” “You must be superwoman!” (which are very sweet) and one of the worst “I wish I could do that with my schedule, it would be so nice to just stay home all the time.”

Here’s the real and brutal but also lovely truth about homeschooling. It’s hard.  It’s really hard.  It’s really really hard.  But it’s also really rewarding.

We started homeschooling 6 years ago because we moved across town and there was no school in our boundary that we felt was a good place to send our kids.  So, we kept our then 2nd grader and 1/2 day kindergartener in school across town.  25 min drive each way, 3 times a day for a couple of months until we decided that wasn’t practical. On top of the geographical issues, our 2nd grader was starting to follow some troublemakers and getting pink slips from the teacher talking of his misbehavior. It seemed the perfect opportunity to give this a go. We pulled them out at Christmas break and decided to give homeschooling a try from January to May.  If it was an utter failure, we would put them in a good school (school of choice opportunity to file in February) for the following year.

We were worried our daughter (kindergartener) might be dyslexic (her teacher was concerned too) and how we might manage that.  She was having so much trouble understanding and recognizing 1/2 of her letters.  And our son (2nd grader) had a ridiculously hard time focusing and concentrating on his homework as he was more interested in being social (hence the getting into trouble).

Our 5 month experiment turned out to be a great success.  Our daughter not only began to recognize letters and write them but was reading level 1 books by the end of the 5 months. (and she still LOVES to read) Our son started to rechannel some of his energy and focused more on his schoolwork.  The turn around/change we saw in them was incredible.  It was very clear all our daughter needed was extra one on one help that she was not able to get at school. (no disrespect to public school teachers you all are amazing)  Our son needed redirection.  We saw enough progress we decided to take things year by year.

What does that mean? Every year we sit down with our kids and ask them if they want to continue homeschooling or go to a regular public school like most of their friends.  And every year they choose homeschooling.

Our goofy kiddos

Am I superwoman?  Most definitely not.  Although being superwoman would be supremely awesome, I could have my own special cape and everything.  But alas I am just one lowly woman who simply does the best she can.

Is it hard?  It’s very hard.  You are teacher, principal, school counselor, school nurse AND mom.  The fear over not doing enough is a constant pressure.  So is the obligation you feel when you have other chores that need your attention, but you have to set it all aside and make sure schoolwork gets done each day and corrected.  Forget about the fact that you never have a moment to yourself…EVER.  Think of summer vacation or Christmas break, it’s like that ALL the time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

How does it work?  We started using an online progam for our kids 2 years ago and it has been the best thing ever. (for the 4 years prior to this we used books, LOTS of books and it was 10x harder) It’s set up by day, of the year they are, in with their assignments and instructions completely laid out.  English, (grammar, reading, writing), History, Computer, Science even Art, PE and Musical Instruments are all included. (as are foreign languages they study latin, french and spanish on the regular)  We personally skip the religious portions as our personal beliefs are school should be secular and they are free to decide for themselves later what they choose to believe religiously.

Big brother showing little brother how to play chess from a game in their program!

I should also note that our school district offers a once a week enrichment program for homeschool kids.  (we are also able to keep up with regular ITBS testing through this program) It’s a regular school day from 8:30-3:30pm and they get to choose their classes every year from cooking to chemistry to art to guitar to cake decorating to math classes.  They all have lots of friends via this program too!  They have been involved in that since we started and that one day a week keeps me sane.

I also love that our online program is also teaching individual responsibility and instruction.  The 2 older kids (now in 6th and 8th) are capable of sitting and doing their entire day of homework on their own (free to ask questions/assistance from us at any time).  As their days are laid out with full instructions.  (I walk through the whole day with our 3rd grader yet) We go over everything after they say it’s completed, discussing all subjects and aspects along the way.

With that being said we do have some fantastic traditional curriculum we love for our littles which consists of Math U See for all of our kids (we have tried other programs and this one is by far the most effective for them) and they are all 6 months to a year ahead of their grade.  For our pre-k-2nd graders we like Sing Spell Read and Write.  It’s been incredible and the 2 kids I have done the program with LOVE to read.  I am about to start it with our youngest this fall.


Outside of one of our local libraries, had to stop and check out what he was reading!

From the bad days when one or more kid/s do not want to do their homework or they can NOT understand something and you have tried to teach it 20 different ways but nothing is working and you are trying to figure out another better way.  To the good days when it all clicks together and they totally get it, and it’s a HUGE accomplishment!  Or when you teach a child to read, completely on your own.  Best thing ever. It feels so good to see them so proud and know you had a part in that.

It should definitely be noted that I couldn’t do this without the help and support of my husband.  I did the first 4 years completely on my own (that was in the all books days) and I got burned out.  I told him I couldn’t do it anymore, but he had witnessed the benefits first hand with our kids and said he would be willing to help and do school with them when he could.  It has made all the difference and here we are still homeschooling 2 years later.

Will we homeschool forever?  I don’t know.  We take it year by year and as they get older they may want to go to high school.  Sports, friends, social reasons, etc.  But it will be decided based on their wishes.

Our son practicing his reading with Bogey, one of our pups.

An added bonus to homeschooling is the schedule.  My hubs works strange shifts with mid-week days off and working the rest, random nights and early mornings and sometimes overnights.  Homeschooling allows us to spend the most time as a family as we are able to work around his schedule.  If they went to public school, they would see him very rarely. Our family time is precious and those relationships are a priority.

To recap……it’s really really hard……..but really really rewarding. I still worry about not doing enough, are they where they are supposed to be, etc.  After the first few years you start to trust yourself.  You know what they need to be learning and if they are doing well or not.

I was originally an elementary ed major in college, only to learn in the first year I was NOT cut out for 20+ young students in a classroom. ( I ended up an English major and Psych Minor.) But little did I know that fast forward several years and I would be teaching my own kids.  Kind of comes full circle for me.

Working on chiseling out rocks and gems and learning all about them.

I hope this gives you more of an insight into what is involved with being homeschooling parent.  It’s hard, but it’s also rewarding.  A funny side benefit I’ve noticed is relearning things I had forgotten.  And a negative is when your kid becomes smarter than you are at something (aka my oldest 8th grader in his 9th grade math….fo’get about it the hubs has to do math with him because I’m now useless, and in all honesty he surpassed me oh 2 years ago) But our family is very close because of the benefits afforded us through this more unconventional approach of schooling.  It works for us, for now anyway!

Do you homeschool?  What are your thoughts on the benefits vs the cons?  Any questions I didn’t address?  Toss your thoughts down in the comments I love to hear what you’re thinking or answer any remaining questions!

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