As a pre-covid homeschool mom, what made you decide to homeschool?
For my husband and I, there were a number of factors that contributed to our decision to homeschool our kids. I was a public school education kid and my husband spent the first half of his structured learning in a religious private school before transitioning to public school. Having been through both the public school and private education settings, we felt it was best for our kids to have the education we believe is necessary for developing life skills. My oldest also is also considered immunocompromised, so keeping him home and away from sick kids and teachers, as well as the harsh chemicals they use to treat the schools during cold and flu season, is a must for me. We work hard to keep our kids healthy and homeschooling allows us to teach them those skills. We also have very big plans to travel as a family when things open back up. With my husband and I both having flexible jobs, we didn’t want someone else’s schedule to dictate how we spent our time as a family.
What curriculum do you use?
Homeschool laws in each state vary, but here in Texas, things are pretty lenient. The amazing thing about homeschooling here is you really don’t need a set curriculum or structured learning. Each kid is different, so they could require a different style of learning. For example, we like a structure similar to public school for my oldest (sitting at a table or desk to work, reading more books, etc), but we do much more play based learning for my youngest. We love to teach science by going outdoors, math by cooking healthy meals from scratch in the kitchen, and history by visiting museums and watching kid-friendly documentaries. Things like writing can be practiced from an early age by drawing letters in sand to make it fun. School doesn’t have to be hard, and in fact, it’s really fun when you get to choose how you learn! I feel like the more I “teach” my kids, the more I’m learning myself. And these are everyday things that we should’ve learned in school, but I never retained because I wasn’t enjoying my time there.
Some of my favorite structured curriculums are Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool, which we love because it’s free and it helps us moms who have been acclimated to public school have a basic guideline on what to teach and when. Another curriculum we love is The Good and the Beautiful. Their workbooks help keep us organized when we get overwhelmed with other activities. If you are like me and had a hard time separating “normal” school and homeschool, research a bit on unschooling. It really helps kids get connected with learning in a passionate manner.
What if your kids want to partake in extracurricular activities like sports or arts?
I love this question! Homeschooled kids typically have WAY more free time than public or private schooled kids. There are tons of select sports leagues and local arts classes in the community. I am a firm believer that homeschooled kids often excel in these activities because they don’t have the pressure of the typical school work load on their shoulders. Often times, I would have to choose between studying for an exam or preparing for a basketball game. My only time to study or do homework on game nights was on the bus ride back home at midnight. In addition to the leagues in the community, some states also allow homeschooled kids to participate in public school sports, thanks to the Tim Tebow Law, but Texas did not pass this law. Gloria Deo Academy is a private/hybrid school here in the San Antonio area that allows homeschooled students to participate in their sports programs, which I LOVE.
How do your kids get socialization?
This is such an important topic that many public school parents don’t realize. Children in the public education system are often punished for talking with their classmates during class time, leaving socialization to passing time in between classes and lunch time. Passing time is often less than five minutes in every school, and must include locker stops, restroom breaks, and time held after class talking with their teachers. Lunch time for most schools is under 30 minutes and in many cases as low as 15 minutes. This time includes the time it takes to walk to the lunch room, stand in line for food, and eating said food. This leaves very little time for socialization in the public school setting.
There are often co-ops homeschooled kids can join, which include socialization time, educational classes, and extracurricular activities. Be sure to check out this list of local San Antonio homeschooling resources and co-ops here.
Can your kids still graduate with a diploma?
It’s very important to keep track of your kids’ learning activities in the form of a transcript so you can issue them a homeschool diploma. This is especially important in the “middle” and “high school” years if your kids plan to attend college, the military, or any other special field that typically requires a high school diploma. Many homeschool co-ops also have graduation ceremonies for seniors to have the opportunity to “walk the stage” for their parent issued diploma.
What is your personal opinion on the public school system? What about the private school system?
Personally, I didn’t care for the public education system while I was in school. I attended school in a small town that allowed teachers and classmates to get involved in personal and private matters, and I wasn’t a fan of the cliques that formed, the comparisons that happen in the classroom, and the stress load of the school work. Many teachers I had were great and tried their best to educate students in a manner that worked for them, but with nearly 30 students in a classroom, it makes it hard to educate each student in the most beneficial way to them. My brother has dyslexia, and he often found himself struggling to keep up with school work, even with outside resources to help him. This also played a factor in his athletic abilities by taking longer to learn plays. There aren’t many resources for students with learning disabilities, especially in small towns. Even those without learning disabilities struggle in the classroom because the education cannot be tailored to each individual. As for the private school system, I wasn’t personally involved so I only have opinions based on what my husband has told me. In his experience, the comparison of financial status for students played a big factor in friendships and favoritism by school staff. These are just a few of the reasons we choose to educate our children at home.