If you know me at all, you know that I love new homeschoolers. I am all about encouraging them, guiding them, and giving them the confidence they need in this huge undertaking. Lately, however, I’ve had more than a few conversations with newbies that go something like this:
“You’re homeschooling now? That’s awesome! What made you decide to do it?”
“My son/daughter just wasn’t learning in school. No matter what they did, nothing. I just don’t think school was the right fit.”
“I think you made the right decision. So what have you been doing with them?”
“Oh, we’ve been following a similar schedule to what they had in school.”
“You know you don’t have to do that, right?”
“I know. It’s just that that’s what they’re used to.”
The conversation usually ends there because, despite how badly I want to point out the obvious, I realize that I don’t know their kids better than they do.
What if school was the problem in the first place?
I understand that there are a multitude of reasons that parents take their kids out of school. Sometimes bullying is an issue. Other times a child may be falling in with the wrong crowd. And sometimes, the problem may be that a child is a square peg being crammed into a round hole.
It is this last group of children that I am mostly referring to here, although I do believe it can be true for others, as well.
Think of it this way…yes, your child may be used to learning in a certain way, but how beneficial has this method been? I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you started homeschooling because your child wasn’t learning in school, then the school methods probably weren’t doing a whole heck of a lot other than creating stress and diminishing confidence in your child.
So taking it a step further, I’m going to suggest that imitating school at home may not be the answer you’re looking for.
You might argue that your child wants it this way, and I know that it will take some getting used to for both parent and child, but how will you know that there isn’t a better way if you’re not willing to give it a try?
I strongly recommend that every. single. homeschooling parent takes some time to read through some homeschooling publications, be it blogs, books, or both. There are so many ways to homeschool, and, yes, school-at-home is one way, but it is far from the only way.
John Holt, a former education reformer, wrote several books on how children learn. Actually, one of his most well-known works is called How Children Learn. Between reading John Holt and John Taylor Gatto, I will never at look school the same way again.
At the very least, consider taking just a few weeks to shake things up a bit. Watch some movies. Go outside…a lot. Read together. Bake some cookies. Learning doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to come from a textbook.
After a while, who knows? You may decide that school-at-home is what’s right for you. But at least consider what I’ve said because every child is different, and you now have the freedom to give your child precisely what they need.
And try to keep in mind this one thing- why try to imitate something that wasn’t working?