Here we are, on lockdown. Now everyone that has been writing about COVID-19 in their blogs for the last few weeks is like “hah! I told you so!” I’m haven’t gone to look at everyone’s blogs yet but I’m sure they’re going to cover a good amount of the quarantine. I’m going to bring up a viewpoint I’ve just recently gotten to look through, Homeschooling. Now let me be clear, we’ve successfully gotten through a single week of being at home together. Monday the youngest was sick and I went to work and by Thursday I had the flu and the kids had to spend afternoons at their grandparents, but I feel like it’s been an eternity!
You all remember that kid that showed up to your proctored state exam that you didn’t recognize right? They were well dressed, well mannered and stuck out like a sore thumb. I’m sure there were more than one for those of you that were younger, but in the 90’s and early 2000s homeschooling was something only the ‘weirdos did’. Those of us that went to public school could never understand why anyone would want to be in homeschool and surely all they did was hang out around the house all day! There was always a stigma attached to someone homeschooled. I remember the kids that lived up the road from my dad were homeschooled. There were 5 of them and my grandmother would say things like “I’m sure they’re not getting a proper education like that”
I remember in high school, being angry to hear that homeschooled kids were thought to be better than those of us in honors at public school. I remember thinking and feeling strongly that they should have to abide by a strict curriculum just like us! Work 7 hours a day! I came to understand a few of the pitfalls of this sort of education in college, my freshman roommate was homeschooled up until her parents let her get a job at 16 at a restaurant. Let’s just say she got in with a promiscuous crowd and was incredibly unprepared for what she got involved in. When she asked me “how could I tell the father of a baby if I were to have gotten pregnant this weekend if I slept with three different guys?” I knew we needed to have “the talk” but why she didn’t already know this stuff was beyond my comprehension.
So I’m interested to know what your take on homeschooling is, those of you who reply to my blog. I’ve recently become more interested in it not only because we’re here quarantined but there has been a whole new wave of alternative education that seems to be sweeping the millennial parental group. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that has gone through public school in the last 40 years – it’s garbage. You hardly retain anything, kids are exhausted, stressed and overloaded going into college which is another conversation. Standardized tests have made learning almost impossible for teachers to do effectively. So parents have been taking it on themselves to do it the good old fashion way through experience at home.
Once I realized we’d be doing some at-home learning here with my 4 and 2-year-old, I got a little nervous. Thankfully we’re still in the stages of learning through play and working on writing and the very early stages of learning to read. I started doing research and talking to friends that I know homeschool. The number one consensus I got was that it doesn’t have to be structured. I immediately wanted to structure it, which is funny because that’s exactly what you want to get away from with public school right? The most you need to expect your children to spend time with hardcore learning is 2 or so hours a day. That was a relief! I was told the majority of math was taught through baking, how awesome is that? It’s ok to be bored, this one I have trouble with since my kids are used to constant stimulation at daycare. They’re having trouble coming off of that high, but their Amazon Fire is a great babysitter for a few hours a day. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Now let me assure you, I have no intention of continuing to school my children at home once the quarantine is over. I did want to make the most of this time at home with them, however. It’s a peek into the life of a homeschooling mom and I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity. I would have never had this opportunity had I not been forced to take it. I never considered myself capable of being a Stay At Home Mom, I’m not tough enough for that! Last week we began with coloring and color sorting with water beads. I’m not sure if you all have every played with water beads, but they’re the coolest things ever. They grow so many times their size from dry to wet but they’re squishy and bouncy and come in a container of mixed colors. We sorted them all out and then squished them between our fingers. So we covered some tactile learning as well as color sorting and fine motor skills. There were times the girls would get up and go do other things, I would continue to sort because it was soothing and I’m a little OCD. They’d come back and help some more. I was kind of impressed at how well it went, to be honest.
Although we haven’t tried baking yet, I’ve obtained all our supplies for making bread and cookies and muffins. These will all go over well especially with my husband who I’m sure will eat all of the results. I’m looking to also include gardening in our ‘curriculum’ over the next few weeks after I recover from the flu. We’ve started a little but only while the weather cooperates. The girls will start getting involved in cleaning and laundry which they’ve helped with periodically in the past. I dye yarn on the side, with natural ingredients, so this will be fun to have them help me forage for in the woods on walks.
Rosalie is two and a half, she’ll be working on tracing letters and numbers. She recognizes them very well and we’ll work with her on adding small things and counting. Elizabeth is working on writing letters, spelling words and starting to read. We have a few books that she’s getting good at sounding out the words along with the story. This will all prepare her for kindergarten in the fall.
All in all, I don’t expect to be setting any huge goals for myself during this time. My main goal with this post is to bring to attention the bias that was there when I was growing up about homeschooling and how it is now. Now there is more understanding of play and experience-based learning. These methods make more sense to me now and I’m able to understand now that I’m older, why people have turned to homeschooling. Students can excel in both but parental support and involvement are necessary.