Reflections on Educating from Home

We made the decision to homeschool in August. My children were entering 2nd, 4th, and 6th grades. After we had breakfast on what would have been their first day back to school, they sat and looked at me. My oldest asked, “Do you know what you are doing?” I didn’t know what I was doing. I had ordered a few books, but nothing had arrived yet.  Later, when friends would ask, “Why did you homeschool?” my answer was that “School got in the way of what we wanted to do.” And that’s what we did while homeschooling, whatever we wanted to do.

We made our decision to homeschool, but now families are homeschooling and it wasn’t their decision. I know how overwhelming that must be. I imagine that, like my son, children are looking at their parents and asking, “Do you know what you are doing?” It’s ok to not know. Homeschooling looks different for every family. As you try to figure out balancing homeschooling with working at home, my advice is to do what you want to do.  Don’t try to replicate school at home.  I never thought of myself as a teacher. Instead my job was to navigate and facilitate learning by helping them find resources and allowing them time to explore. We learned together. 

While we homeschooled, we would do “Project Work.” A not very creative name for the opportunity for our children to pick whatever they would like to study. The projects ranged from wombats to astronomy, from learning to play new music to reading Irish folklore. They could spend as long as they wanted to learn about their chosen topic: days, weeks, months. All I asked was that when they were finished, they gave a presentation to teach the rest of us what they had learned…and they had to use a prop.  Over the years props included costumes, posters, Legos, cardboard cut outs, power points, stuffed animals, and musical instruments. Once we had a Battle of the Bulge reenactment with green army men that were discovered in Grandma’s basement. 

Use this time to allow your child to explore their interests or develop new ones.  Gifted kids often like to dig deep into a subject or activity and school rarely gives them time to do that. Gifted kids also like to explore subjects that may not be taught in school, or at least not taught at their grade level. It doesn’t matter what they do or how they do it, what matters is that they had a chance to do what they wanted to do and share it with you.

Jennifer Farner, Homeschooling Mom