5 Things No One Told Me About Homeschooling

“What, like it’s hard?” – Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

he decision to homeschool was tough at first.  I was so torn between being a working woman and doing what I knew was right for my children.

Before my daughter was born, I was a writer/producer/editor for film, radio, and television promos and my days were typically 10-12 hours long.  I worked up until the week before she was born – I loved my job. I may not have loved it while being 9mos. pregnant, but you know, close enough ;p.  I was able to afford taking a maternity leave, so I took a few months off.

When my daughter was born, it was the happiest time of my life.  Like every new parent says, she was the light of our days! She was the easiest baby.  We loved her so much we had another, and I stayed home even longer.

When it was time, we enrolled her in preschool at a private school where my nephew was attending.  She had a great time, but she was so timid and shy that some days were difficult for her to let me go.  I was at home with my son at the time, and having that much-needed one on one time with him was priceless.  The school was a great place for her to learn, yet I loathed the idea of having to wake up and drive her to school in bumper to bumper traffic.  This is Los Angeles, after all.

After realizing how much I hated commuting to take my daughter to school, coupled with the fact that I was at home with the baby anyhow, my husband and I looked into homeschooling.  My sisters-in-law had each come to the decision to do so on their own, and that obviously influenced my decision. My niece and nephews all had hit or miss experiences with several teachers in some of the “best” private and public schools.  Because our kids were so young and hadn’t really had a traditional school experience yet, my husband and I said to ourselves, “Why should we even take the chance with our kids?” And so the decision was made. We were going to homeschool.

What No One Tells You #1 – The Sacrifice

Being the person that I am, I give 100%.  My goal is to always succeed. I looked up hundreds of different curriculums, read and listened to hundreds of speakers on homeschooling, went to several local homeschool conventions. 

There were days I was motivated to teach my toddlers. There were also days that I missed the ease of my day job.  There were days I feared I was losing my creativity, and days I used my creativity in a completely different way. It’s taken me a lot of years to realize that I may not be working on the latest, greatest thing on tv, but I am doing a job so much more important than any other out there.  I am my kids’ confidante, their best friend, their guiding light. It has also taken me a long time to realize that it isn’t about ME anymore, but about them.

At the end of the day, it’s not about losing your identity but changing it.  You’re still a superhero, you just threw on a different cape.

What No One Tells You #2 – Let It Go.

Scheduling and structure is important as an adolescent.  It teaches so many skills to plan, especially as your kids grow to become young adults.  However, it’s also very necessary to realize that things don’t go according to plan and you have to throw the plan out the window.  As much as you would think that homeschooling allows for an endless amount of time in the day, it doesn’t. On some days, math will just click for my dear Charly.  On other days, not so much. Some days, Sutton zooms through his science work, and others he wants to take a week to investigate and learn more about a certain rocks or mineral.  Homeschooling allows you to explore your children’s interests, and go at their own pace! And if it’s not sticking to a “schedule”, you just have to try again tomorrow.

As a side note – just because you are homeschooling, and are home, doesn’t mean that you have a clean house.  Some people do, I’m sure, but not in my house. We try. A lot of times, we get so wrapped up in schoolwork, or hustling from one kid’s activity to the other, that housecleaning totally falls by the wayside. We work in as much as we can since that is a very necessary life skill, but we do what we can when we can, and we’ve accepted that! You learn to let go of the little stuff and focus on the big stuff.

What No One Tells You#3 – “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For part of our homeschooling journey, I found myself comparing what I was teaching my kids to what their peers in traditional school were learning.  I was becoming more and more interested in “keeping up with the Joneses” – or surpassing them really… instead of focusing on the child in front of me.  I had to stop myself and refocus. Wasn’t that the point? So that they could be different, and find their passions in life? They are able to spend more time on what matters most to them, instead of making sure they checked all the boxes laid out to them by someone else.  

Even though it is so easy to compare your kids to others, the homeschooling road has its detours.  Don’t compare your kids to other kids, and especially don’t compare your child to your other children either.  Everyone learns differently, even your own kids! So what comes easily for your daughter, may not be so easy for your son, and vice versa.  On another note, what may have been easy for you, may not be easy for your child. While frustrating, you just have to be prepared to give that extra amount of grace and patience to the process.

What No One Tells You#4 – They Will Tell You Everything.

By everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  The funniest video they saw on YouTube.  Observations about a science experiment. Asking you if they can have a snack midway through their math lesson.  Their joy when they discover something cool in their history lesson. The way a kid was being mean to another in one of their practices.  If buying into a franchise is worth it. If you can come wipe their butt.

They tell you everything.  It’s just nature. You are with your kids 24/7, so they are going to ask, tell and discuss everything with you.  They will look to you for answers (and if you don’t know the answer, at least you can discuss and find out together!)  They will look to you as their example in life instead of the celebrity with the most followers on social media.

As annoying as some of their observations or questions can be, I find it amusing and delightful.  I want them to want to share everything with me. Later on in life, I want them to be comfortable to come to me with questions about the hard stuff, their accomplishments, and just to chat about anything.

What they don’t tell you #5 – It Pays off in the End.

Now I am not there yet, but from watching my niece and nephews grow up homeschooled it is well worth the wait.  It may not seem like your child is inching forward each day, in fact it may seem like a dime out of a million dollars.  But they are learning, and they are inching forward. My niece graduated from high school at 16 and college at 19. All the while, she was doing what she loved, teaching music and theater to kids.  Could you see it in one week or two? Absolutely not. But then it happens, and the progress hits you right in the face! One of my nephews consistently interns at zoos across the country, has gotten to speak before Congress on zoological conservation, and just turned 17.  So, we may not see it today, or next week or even a month from now. But just know that you are giving your kids a huge advantage – one that will show itself as your children become young adults. Homeschooling allows your kids to seek out their own passions, and perhaps get a head start on their careers.  

There are still days that I think I could be working and see results every day – delivering a project, writing a television promo, etc.  But I think forward to the end of my life and I remind myself, “Will that really matter?” In my eyes, what will matter most is the relationship I have with my kids, and that I was there for them consistently to guide and teach them.

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