On March 12, 2020, we made the decision to pull our kids from school for a few days or even a week, until we had more information about the Coronavirus, a totally new and daunting threat to what we perceived to be “normal.” By the next Monday, our letter of intent to homeschool our children was sent out. We knew that because of all of the unknowns surrounding this worldwide pandemic, the safest thing for us to do was to wait it out.
Like many other families, we have a family member who is considered at-risk… or is she? No one knew. No one had answers to our questions… How is it affecting children? How is it affecting children with her particular genetic disorder? How contagious is it? Do we need to quarantine, or isolate, or hoard toilet paper and Doritos? No. One. Knew.
So we stayed home. We bought workbooks, flashcards, educational apps and subscriptions and we started homeschooling. We took walks and exercised. We played outside and planted a garden. We made music and art. I organized craft stations and baskets and book bins. I made a beautifully crafted schedule that had everything we needed to get done in a week to be on track for when the girls went back to school. Then I made another one… And another one. Then I just said the heck with it, we’ll do what feels right.
See, I was a teacher in my past life. I taught music in public and private schools and I’ve been teaching privately for years. In school, classes arrived on time (mostly,) we had 45-50 minutes to fit in all of our activities and then the children would line up and sing their goodbye song and I would see another group of children and the process started all over again. Maybe they were in a different grade, learning different skills, but I was teaching the same concepts to everyone at the same time, with modifications when necessary. The schedule was what it was and I had to follow it.
What I realized about a month into teaching my own kids was:
- They do not care about my schedule.
- My kids are (obviously) all different. They all learn differently. They all have different interests. They all have different strengths and weaknesses.
- I am not a school and there is no principal. If one of my kids is not feeling it today, they’re going to tell me, and they won’t necessarily hold back when doing so.
- They do not care about my schedule.
So, I did what every other new homeschooling parent is doing now. I joined all the homeschool Facebook groups in my area. I needed help. What I came to find out is that there are SO many veteran homeschooling parents on social media who are willing and excited to help and I took in everything they had to say. I looked at all of their favorite curricula. All of them. I spent hours on Pinterest searching for activities, worksheets, organizational hacks and schedules. What I figured out was that I held all of the control in this unexpected situation. I could make our homeschool experience be completely online and hands-off, or I could use this experience to really explore the things that my children love, and share what I love.
I decided that this experience was going to be everything that I felt my children and I were missing being in a brick and mortar school. I could teach my kids more like my private lesson students, following their interests, spending more time in nature, growing food and learning with them how to care for our planet. The possibilities are endless and I get to decide what and how they will learn it!
September has come and it’s time to start getting down to business. I chose curricula that is nature-based from www.blossomandroot.com. I have a kindergartener, a third grader and a fourth grader and the beauty of this program is that I can include all of the kids in activities from each level. My fourth grader is starting a bulb garden, but really, we are all doing this unit together. My third grader will be studying prehistoric animals, but my fourth grader wants to be a paleontologist. Perfect! We’ll do it all together! Top this all off with an amazing choice of literature in each grade level to share and experience together.
I had so much doubt on March 12 when we decided to pull them from a school we have come to love and teachers who have supported us and our high maintenance needs. The encouragement from the homeschool community here in NH and the ability to choose what is best for our kids, our family, and our lifestyle has given me the courage to move forward and create our own adventure!
If you live in New Hampshire and you’re struggling to decide whether homeschooling is right for your family, visit https://granitestatehomeeducators.org for resources, legal information, and support for homeschooling families.