Homeschooling Tips: From a Former Homeschool Student

In Michigan Creative by Brooke Reed

With the uncertainty of COVID-19, parents have been wondering what the new school year will bring. Will they be able to send their kids back to school? Will they be held back this year because they weren’t able to finish last year? Is it safe to let their kids play with others with everything happening? After many flip-flop answers to the various questions, Michigan officially ruled that each school district will decide what measures are best for their kids. Because of this response, many parents had to make the difficult decision to send their children back to school and risk the possible consequences or attempt homeschool, which could also bring its own cons. For parents, this is an extremely difficult decision. After all, we are talking about your child’s future. For now, I am speaking to the parents who decided to homeschool their kids.

You’re going to be okay.
Your child or children are going to be okay.
This is not going to be the end of the world.
You will not ruin your children.
You. Will. Be. Okay.

I’ve heard so many parents who have started homeschooling and are terrified of what it will mean for their families. Now, I don’t know everyone’s personal situation. I can sympathize with the daunting fear of possibly not teaching your children correctly or not structuring their time correctly. Also, what about ensuring they are socializing with others properly (that one is a fear I hear a lot)? Before I continue, I want to make sure you know that you will not ruin your children’s personal growth. Your children can still be properly socialized. And yes: You can find ways to help them with Algebra, even if it’s from the help of an online tutor. All of these things are possible.

I was someone who was homeschooled growing up, way before we ever even thought a nationwide pandemic was possible. I was both homeschooled and went to public school, so I thought I may be able to help give some insight into some common fears of homeschooling, and how to overcome them.

Yes, the internet will go out. The teacher should understand.

Especially with the current volume of students homeschooling at the same time, the internet has been getting far more spotty than usual, and this trend is not likely to go down any time soon. It can be hard to teach in a setting when the internet is not adequate, especially when you need that internet connection for eight hours a day!

You will probably lose the internet eventually. And, your teachers know this. Just reach out to them and let them know your struggles. Ask if there’s anything your child needs to catch up on by the due date. They’ll understand.

Everyday household things like baking can dramatically increase your kid’s chances in learning. 

The awesome thing about homeschooling is that you can learn from basically anywhere. My mom used to take us shopping and would teach us how to budget, a skill that I still thankfully use to this day. We would also group together in the kitchen and make food, measuring out ingredients and learning how to bake or cook from recipes either found on the box or found online. My dad would let us help him replace the brakes and rotors on our car, or would let us watch him go through the process of changing oil. My favorite part of homeschooling was how I was largely able to read as much as I wanted, which allowed me to read over 30 of Ted Dekker’s novels in a single year in middle school, on top of other books I was interested in as well.

Even though these are unconventional ways to learn, the skills that I took from them still help me today. I’m still a pretty good writer (though I do need to get that whole “edit and narrow your thoughts” thing down), I love baking and cooking new things, and I can keep a pretty solid budget. I can also replace a tire, change my breaks, and know what to look out for in the engine of my car. Don’t try to rework the system. Do what you do, and teach your kids based off of your daily routine. They may not like math or reading, but they may respond better to a more interactive way of learning. If all else fails, take them on a field trip to run around in a park. Let them learn by watching and doing.

You will sometimes fail, and that’s okay.

Being a homeschool parent doesn’t mean you all-of-a-sudden know all the answers to the SAT or ACT. There will be subjects you hated in school or methods you have no idea how to incorporate with this newfound method of math. But, if you don’t know something. That’s okay. It can be useful and helpful to use the resources that are there to help you too.

Your kids may be challenging right now. You may have already snapped at them numerous times today, or have said to forget it and let them watch more television than they should, or had to cancel a small playdate with your child’s close friend because something came up or you had to work. They may be heartbroken or sad about it now, but they will get over it. You are doing the best you can right now, and you are strong for taking this challenge. Keep learning yourself, apologize to your kids when you’re wrong, and teach them how to learn from failure. No one is perfect. Stop hiding behind a mask of imperfection, and start teaching them how to face it and improve.

You’re not alone.

Especially now, there are so many parents who are in the same boat as you. Maybe they were already homeschooling, and this is just another year to them. Maybe they had to make this difficult decision with you and are just trying to figure out this new normal as well. No matter the case, find an online group and get some tips from other parents in the same boat. See what other parents are doing, and see what you can incorporate in your own routine and what doesn’t work for you. Give your own advice to other parents who may be in a similar situation and let them know how you were able to solve it. We are all in this together. Most are in the same boat. Unfortunately, for right now, 2020 is our new reality, and we are living it. Instead of beating ourselves up and being terrified, let’s work together and learn from each other so we can continue to grow and help our children grow with us.