My wife and I have a full year of homeschooling under our belts! Along with the joys and blessings that we’ve learned homeschooling brings, there are also some challenges that we need to work on for the coming school year.
Finding Contentment with the Schedule
Over the past year, our son finished 1st grade and continued with material for 2nd grade. So, we are already almost done with half of our 2nd-grade language arts, handwriting, and math! It was exciting to watch him make real progress and do more than
he was required to complete.
But you know what? During the year, I was always concerned that we didn’t do enough. I would think, “How can we take a day off and do something else? We have homeschooling to do!” I also got anxious because my wife spent lots of time
on foreign language lessons, which felt like it cut into my time to teach. I couldn’t do MY lessons.
Then, we joined a co-op that took time away from my schedule as well! That made me even more stressed out. I thought, “How will we ever complete his lessons when we have to volunteer and do all this other stuff? The co-op and everyone else are getting
in my way.”
Now that it’s summer, and I’ve had time to review our progress and settle down. It’s clear that we are ahead of schedule! All the supposed delays and concerns, stress, and anxiousness were unfounded. Nevertheless, I still struggle with
worrying about the schedule. It’s something I have to work on, and focus on letting go of the anxiety.
Feeling My Son is Missing Out by Homeschooling
Occasionally, I’ll spot kids on a field trip when I’m driving. For some reason, I’ll feel sad that my son is not with classmates. Has he lost out on some fun, and chances to be with other kids?
Then there will be times when I see my son playing at home by himself. He talks and sings and seems to be having fun. And then I’ll wonder, is he lonely, and is that why he’s talking to himself? What if he was in a school? Would he be like
that? And every once in a while, he mentions that he misses his old buddies from kindergarten. He wonders what they are doing and which school they went to.
However, my wife and I are convicted about the many other benefits of homeschooling: having more quality time as a family and enjoying meals together. And we do a variety of social activities besides doing book work at home. We are part of a weekly
co-op, drum classes, and daily soccer practice at a local school with his friends. Then there are the weekend activities: hiking, church, Sunday School, and other activities that include lots of social time.
As a dad, I need to let go of these feelings about my son missing out on something. I need to remember and focus on all the gains we have made as a family. Because when I see my son with other kids of similar age or older, I can see that he is very well
adjusted, social, and active. He’s normal! And, as his dad, I like to think he’s even smarter, too!
Being Too Flexible with the Schedule!
One of the homeschooling gifts is that you are naturally flexible. There isn’t anyone telling you what you need to do every day. You are on your own, and sometimes it feels great! Hey, let’s take the morning off and go swimming with some friends.
Or, let's handle the shopping for our camping trip this weekend and do the lessons later.
As I mentioned above, sometimes I get very anxious if we seem to get behind schedule. But other times I tell myself, it’s ok, we are ahead so let’s take some time off! I justify it by telling myself that we are flexible and have plenty of
Next year, I want to work on this idea of flexibility and set some limits. While certainly a key benefit of homeschooling that is sometimes valuable to capitalize on, we also don’t want our son to feel homeschooling is free and without any
boundaries! As he gets older, his coursework will be more challenging, requiring a more rigorous schedule and focus.
Not Using a Physical Schedule
Since we were doing 1st grade, there were only a few formal subjects we focused on. As any parent of a 1st grader knows: their attention span is limited, and the amount of time required for formal learning is not too extensive. Last year, we didn’t
use a physical schedule. Math, language arts, and handwriting could be finished before noon. Even if we start late, we can usually still complete everything before lunch.
My wife handles the other lessons like Mandarin, Worship Training, and Music, so we follow her schedule for those. She’s a private music teacher, so her schedule is changing frequently with her students. So right now, we don’t have a time
crunch for lessons that require a rigid schedule.
But, we also realize this is just the beginning. Each year, as we add more daily and weekly subjects, we will need to become more strict with a physical schedule and be more precise about the timing. As our son grows, we will have to be more efficient
in making sure lessons get completed by being more detailed with daily planning.
Wondering If My Child Is Learning the Right Things
Should my son be learning history, geography, and coding? Isn’t that important for this high-tech economy? On one hand, we seem to have a lot of time to do our lessons. But I often wonder if my son is learning the right things.
Sometimes I’m not sure if we’re learning enough. But, I also have to remember my son’s age. If we did homeschool all day, my son would be overwhelmed. Although we have more control over our schedule as homeschooling parents, it
is also important to remember that our time is limited, and it is impossible to learn everything under the sun.
I recently came across some interesting data from Finnish schools. In elementary school, kids learn a few subjects in the morning, then they go home! They only spend 20 hours per week in school. Their schools have long been revered, and it gives us encouragement
for our homeschool to focus on a few subjects at first!
So, for the upcoming school year, I also have to work on myself and have more faith my son is learning the right things and remember that time is finite. It's impossible to learn every subject under the sun. Our goal is to focus on a few important subjects while giving our son the freedom and opportunities to learn, grow, and explore at his own pace.
Photo credit: iStock, following images courtesy of author.