Cheryl* was happy—or, at least, mostly happy. Her elementary-aged kids were pretty well set in their two different schools. And, despite some sporadic nagging feelings that her oldest daughter might do better with more academic challenge, Cheryl was content.
And yeah . . . she also had a few misgivings about a lack of family closeness and a sense of disconnect with the kids’ education and friend groups. But these were quickly dismissed by the reality of her full-time work life.
“I figured that the schools would do a better job than I could at home,” she says, “especially since I had to work. But something kept tugging on my heart.”
That tug was drowned out by a maxed-out schedule of working, carpooling to soccer meets, driving to music lessons, feeding the always-hungry kids, and keeping some semblance of a clean house.
Even favorite together-times like reading a bedtime story were getting harder: “[It] quickly devolved because everyone was so tired, but it was so important to me!” Still, she tried in vain to “doze read” and employ her superhuman power of sleep resistance, energized by a love for her kids.
Then, one day, the unimaginable happened.
A worldwide pandemic called COVID-19 sent all children home from school; parents around the world were told to do school at home.
Cheryl’s response, echoed around the globe, went something like, “Wait, what? How do we do that?”
A “new normal” home
Cheryl joined the chorus of millions of parents trying to comprehend the impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures on their children, family, and lives. Having never seriously considered homeschooling, she felt the knee-buckling wave of reality sweep over her. “I suddenly found myself in this totally overwhelming circumstance. It was a hard, fast, and insane pace, trying to figure out which end was up.”
At first, she attempted to just continue her kids’ makeshift public school at home, orchestrated by good-hearted teachers who were equally caught off guard. But the hassle of keeping track of everything for all three kids, with endless printouts, assignments, and Zoom meetings, became too frustrating to maintain.
Something had to change. Now, the fact that everyone was home meant that there was an urgent need to consider homeschooling . . . for real.
But the freedom to homeschool sure didn’t feel like freedom at first! Cheryl felt she was forced into a point of decision—as did so many other families around the world. She was “100 percent willing to take homeschooling on and do it well—[but] just struggling big time with how to do it . . . and even how to get started!”
Suddenly, experienced homeschooling parents who had been quietly taking this counter-cultural personalized approach to their kids’ education became a respected and sought-after curiosity. Neighbors, friends, family, and indeed the whole world began taking notice and searching them out for advice, mentoring, and hope.
Cheryl—and millions of other parents—needed to see how it was done and to hear something like, “You can do this! Yes, you can homeschool and still be a whole person, while working and maybe even enjoying the process!”
She’d been talking to her friends . . . well, constantly . . . as they searched together for tips, resources, and shared suggestions. But all of them were new to this homeschooling thing and the process was feeling a lot more like a big game of Whack-a-Mole instead of like a real plan.
Looking on the internet was both exciting and overwhelming. Cheryl took the education of her children seriously, and she anxiously wanted to get it right. She wished for the reassurance of an expert who could help guide her expectations and narrow down her options.
And, then there was the whole working-parent-while-homeschooling thing! She wondered, “How in the world do people even do that?”
Who ya gonna call?
Years ago, she’d heard of HSLDA through a friend. Back then, it was an interesting data point—but now, this connection felt like a potential lifeline.
While not exactly sure what to expect, Cheryl looked at HSLDA’s website and made a wonderful discovery. She saw the warm and friendly faces of HSLDA’s team of Educational Consultants, who were both experts in the vast field of home education and veterans of homeschooling!
And—better yet—they were available for her to talk to as an HSLDA member. So she quickly got connected to HSLDA and started asking questions.
As she talked to the Consultants, epiphanies quickly emerged. The simple freedoms of homeschooling started to become clear; her family’s day-to-day experience slowly started to feel like freedom.
Reflecting back, Cheryl can’t believe how helpful the conversations were: “[The Consultants] just helped me put everything into order! It was all chaotic, and now it is clear!”
She was able to recognize and work through her real needs, frustrations, and goals. About the experience as a whole, she says, “talking to [them] was just what I needed!” All it took was a little crying and a lot of encouragement from perfect strangers—who are now friends!
Bringing it home
The pandemic continues to make the thought of going back to school feel impossible for a lot of people.
But for Cheryl, now that she’s had some time to flesh out the life of a homeschooler, she’s emerged from the overwhelm to a new place of, “Ok, I think we can do this!”
Like thousands of other parents, Cheryl got the support she needed from HSLDA’s Educational Consultants. She found that gracious expertise she longed for, and the Consultants guided her to community, curriculum, resources, and relief.
For now, Cheryl feels her family is ready to embark on their homeschooling journey. And she knows she has the support she needs to continue to make homeschooling possible for the long haul—or, at least for the next hour, day, and even year!
So, if you’re like Cheryl and new to this home education life, we get it and we welcome you.
We know that becoming a homeschooler takes time, practice, resources, and support. No matter where you are in this process, Mom or Dad, HSLDA’s Educational Consultants are excited to come alongside you.
Remember, you’re not alone. You really have got this!
* Cheryl is a fictional composite based on several actual homeschoolers’ stories