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Episode 091. When Virtual Learning Isn’t Working, Homeschool Is An Option

Episode 091

If you tuned into this podcast, I’m giving you a big hug. You’re probably here because you’re ready for change…maybe you or your kids have been struggling with virtual learning options…or you just need to know what your options are.

Or you might know friends who are struggling and talking about homeschool or wanting to know more about it and you wanted to check it out as a resource for them.

Or maybe you’re a teacher who is wondering what they heck this woman is going to talk about. Well, I’m not going to dis teachers or schools. They have been tasked with the impossible this year. We all have. I’m not going to dis parents either if virtual learning isn’t the right fit. This will be a space for support and options. Whatever your “why” for tuning in, I’m glad you’re here.

My intention for this show is to let parents know that there ARE options—and that homeschool is a legal, viable, freeing option for many families. Even if you have never homeschooled before.

I’m shocked at the number of parents who tell me that they didn’t know homeschool was even an option—that they felt like they “had to” do the virtual route this year. But it’s just not true. Homeschool is a valid, legal option in all 50 states (you can look up your state’s homeschool laws at hslda.org …HSLDA stands for Homeschool Legal Defense Association). That’s one place to start.

BUT I know from teaching classes to new homeschoolers and being a new homeschooler myself once upon a time that it is very overwhelming to jump into homeschool. Most people don’t dive into homeschool feeling confident, like it’s no big deal, or have a ton of experience they bring to the table on day one.

Before most parents can even think about getting started, they have to work through some hang-ups or notions that are in their head or heart. I want to go over a few of those with you and speak some insight and wisdom into those legitimate concerns.

Concern #1: “I don’t have the patience to homeschool my kids.”

  • This is probably the most common concern parents share with me. You’re not alone if this is a concern of yours. I’m not patient all the time. I’m not sure there’s any parent out there who can claim 100% patience all the time. And that’s okay. You can learn patience. Patience takes time. It takes practice and grace (grace for yourself and grace for your kids) and then more practice.
  • You can choose to actively work on patience—especially if that is the main concern holding you back. There are people who talk about patience all the time, that teach it to parents, that encourage it, model it for us…I’m just not one of those people who wants to talk patience all the time, so I turn to them for ideas and support.
  • Ideas and support are what is going to help you most when it comes to patience. Patience isn’t a well that you draw from that goes empty and you fill back up. To me it’s more of an indicator of a need. If I am being or feeling impatient, it means that I need something. That something might be a break, a coffee, a good night’s rest, more resources, more info on child development, parenting tips, a friend to chat with, a hug from my husband, take out for dinner, or impatience could be trying to show me that I need to shorten my to-do list for the day (or week or month or year).
  • We can normalize loss of patience while still striving to be more patient (I actually appreciate that more realistic representation of it). Patience is something we can work on and also something we can reframe. It’s a “need thermometer.” And guess what? Freeing up your schedule by switching to true homeschool gives you a ton more opportunities to hone that skill and get better at reading your own patience thermometer.

Concern #2: “I don’t want my kids to fall behind.”

  • Of course you don’t. None of us want to see our kids struggle or feel left out or left behind. We don’t want to fail them as parents in a “regular” sense let alone parenting AND schooling. Kudos to you for wanting the best for your kiddos. “Falling behind” is such a tricky topic because to work through it, we have to look at a few different areas.
  • The Reframe: What does “falling behind” mean? Does it mean you want your kids to keep pace with their grade level? You don’t want them to fail a standardized test? You don’t want them to go into the next grade at a lower level? But then we’d have to think about what it means to be at a lower level…what does that look like?
  • A couple of thoughts for you: kids are learning all the time. All the time. All day. Even if there isn’t a worksheet to prove it, kids are taking in the world around them, they are interested in something (even if that doesn’t look like Shakespeare or algebra) your kid is thinking about something and figuring out how the world works and what their place is in it. Your child might not be super into every homeschool lesson you present, they might not ace every lesson right away…and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean they are falling behind. Age appropriate and grade appropriate lessons vary across education philosophies and absolutely vary child to child. Homeschool creates space to honor each individual child and work at their learning pace and in their learning style in ways that the classroom setting can’t provide out of sheer logistics. So if you’re planning on finishing out the year or starting the next year or at any point really, know that homeschool will offer you the opportunity & time & freedom to work on areas of struggle or concern with unparalleled one on one attention.
  • Teachers. Another thing to consider is that teachers are trained to teach an entire grade level (or even multiple grade levels) of students who are all at different levels of understanding with unique learning styles. So even if the plan is for your child to go back to a brick and mortar school next semester or next year, they are well trained at how to present lessons to various levels of ability and help all the children grow and learn, too. There is always, always a learning curve and the whole class will always, always be at different levels and abilities. If nothing else, a period of homeschool might give you valuable insight into how you can better support your child with their homework or with specific concepts in the future.
  • So if you’re concerned about the “falling behind” notion, go in for the reframe—teachers are trained, age/grade appropriateness is relative, and homeschool provides an incredible opportunity for you to work at the pace you and your child need to in order to grasp any concepts that bring up the worry about falling behind.

Concern #3: “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

  • It’s okay to have thoughts like this come in…how on Earth would you feel like you know how to homeschool when you’ve never done it before? Many, many of us have feelings of “I don’t know what I’m doing” even when we’re parenting. We feel this way in work new work situations some times. But you know what? There are people you can lean into who have gone before you. There are resources. There is a TON of support out there to help you get started and show you or teach you all the different ways you can homeschool your kids. Once you begin you’ll see that there’s not just “one way” to teach your kids anything. So your chances of “doing it wrong” are pretty slim.
  • It’s helpful to know that the goal of homeschool isn’t’ to recreate the classroom at home. Which might sound a little overwhelming, but it’s actually really, really freeing. There are a lot of great homeschool parents who are actively sharing what homeschool does look like if it’s not a classroom at home.
  • Bottom line with this concern: you’re not alone in feeling this way, we do new things as parents all the time, we figure it out, there is a ton of support, and you can and will figure out what works best for your family (you always do).

Concern #4: “My child won’t listen to me on a regular day, how will they listen to me when I’m their teacher?”

  • This is an interesting one…because homeschool provides an opportunity for us to show up in a new way with our kids. So if you have a strained relationship with your child or there’s tension around listening issues, learning beside one another can be very healing.
  • Homeschool *can* be different than just every day parenting when we’re learning together—we as the parents have to be the leaders and the ones to hold the space in this new adventure. Some parents find peace putting on a homeschool hat when teaching and the mom hat when they’re not. That’s not my personal style—I default to “mom” at every moment, but there are people and ideas and ways of teaching that support both.
  • Working through this concern can happen. It does take a bit of a reframe on our part as the parent…it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for homeschool (i.e. “they won’t listen, we can’t homeschool”) but instead it’s an indicator of where you might want to start researching first! There are great books out there (including audiobooks) like “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & How to Listen So Kids Will Talk.” There are resources and solutions to any concern you have out there. Listening and communication are such common ones, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find just how many resources are out there once you start looking into it.

Concern #5: “I can’t work from home and homeschool my kids.”

  • You can. If you’re already working from home and your child is doing virtual learning, you’re already doing a version of working and learning side by side—it’s just one that’s not working for you and that’s okay. It’s not a great fit for everyone. There’s no shame in that.
  • You can work from home and homeschool your kids. I’ve done it for quite a few years. I know that my situation is not like anyone else’s. I truly get that. Families are all unique and every solution is going to look different for every family. The reason I point out that I’ve done it (and am doing it!) is to show that it can be done. There are a lot of parents who make it work. It’s not the “norm” that most of us see, but there are a lot of us out there doing it and some of us are even sharing about it in the hopes it can help others get started if that’s something they want or need to do for their family. That’s not the narrative that’s being pushed though. Working from home and homeschooling your kids is being portrayed as unattainable, impossible, and even horrible. There are many of us in this space who are doing it who are scratching our heads trying to figure out why people are saying that…because it is possible and we’re very happy with our path of working from home and homeschooling. There’s a lot of freedom in it that people aren’t talking about. It (again) takes a reframe. We’ve been taught by society that we’re supposed to only do work and school M-F 9-5 and that we need to “live for the weekends”—that there’s no fun, rest, or happiness until after the kids go to bed or it’s Friday night. And that’s…just not true. In fact, I think that notion is very limiting and causing a lot of unnecessary stress for families since it sets us up to think that life is hard 5 out of 7 days and we just have to “hold on” until Friday night. What an energy zap. It’s no wonder people feel like they can’t homeschool and work from home. Everything is nearly impossible within that model. Think outside of that model and you’ll start to find freedom and rest and connection and adventure and small (& big!) moments of happiness that restrictive schedules don’t allow for.
  • Homeschool takes way less time than virtual school schedules. An average homeschool day can take anywhere from 1-4 hours. It depends on the grade level, the kid, the lessons you’re trying to present. Some work can be done independently by the child (not all, you should know this going in). The key is to think outside the box when it comes to scheduling. Can you work hours outside of M-F 9-5? If so, try that…waking up early, staying up late, working on the weekends. Or if you can’t, hold your office hours, present lessons before work, during lunch, after work, at bedtime, in the car, on the weekends. And as I mentioned earlier, if your child is doing virtual school while you’re working from home, you’re already doing it. Why not do it with more freedom and flexibility?

Concern #6: “I can’t teach math, I’m no good at it.”

  • Or insert any topic you personally struggle with as an adult here. Good news: there are curriculums out there that tell you what to say, what to teach, how to teach it. There are video tutorials of any topic. There are tutors for challenging parts. There are other homechool parents who can swap subjects with you. There are so many options! You can set your ghosts of public school past aside (as Julie Bogart likes to call them) and your doubts or that D in Geometry you got in high school (ahem, me)—just throw them all away! This is your chance to relearn, learn for the first time, have a personal re-do, and just move forward. Your child can and will learn topics. Their strengths and weaknesses will not be identical to yours…and that’s okay. Strengths and weaknesses are normal. It’s what we do with them that counts. Why am I not afraid of math after that D? Because that D doesn’t define who I am, what I’m capable of learning, or even my skills as a mother and home educator. And it feels so, so, so good to let the sh*t go.
  • But seriously, to recap: there are insanely awesome lesson plans out there and teachers and other homeschool families to support you through those moments (or subjects!) of doubt.

Concern #7: “I can’t just stop in the middle of the year and start homeschooling.”

You actually can. There are a lot of resources to help you do just that. So if you’re feeling ready to make the switch or wanted to make the change like yesterday, you can do it. HSLDA is a good place to start with what each state requires when it comes to homeschool. There’s also info out there about how to get transcripts from your child’s school, maintain report cards & accreditation, etc.
If you’re ready to get started on your homeschool journey, here are a few resources for you—some paid, some free:

  • Homeschool Explained. I do have an in-depth online course called Homeschool Explained that is available for purchase. (This isn’t an advertisement for it, I’m just letting you know it’s an option). I’ve helped quite a few families get started on their homeschool journey with confidence. It’s designed to take you from feeling overwhelmed and unsure to confident and informed. I’ve had parents walk into my course feeling really low and nervous walk out of my class high fiving me and saying “Let’s do this!” That is one of the best feelings in the world as a teacher, to know that you helped someone find all of the resources they need to feel confident on their new journey. It’s my way of helping you so you can do the same for your kids…give them the resources they need to feel confident as they learn new things! I go over everything from homeschool styles, curriculum options, planning, scheduling, homeschooling with siblings, subjects to teach, community, socialization, cost, expectations, as well as a whole list of curated resources from my 10+ years of experience with homeschool.
  • Two Must Read Books: The Call of the Wild + Free by Ainsley and The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
  • Homeschool Series on Elevating Motherhood: I have over 15 homeschool specific shows here on the podcast. If you go to the show notes at www.elevatingmotherhood.com + www.elevatingmotherhood.com/homeschool
  • Other Podcasts Worth Listening to as You Begin Homeschool: Brave Writer, Wild + Free, Pam Barnhill, and Sally Clarkson
  • Head to Social Media. Follow me and other homeschool accounts on Instagram to see a more accurate picture of what homeschool is ACTUALLY like. I’m @loribethauldridge come over there to see what I share in stories and in my feed. I also have more than one homeschool highlight. Wild + Free is awesome to follow, as well as Julie Bogart (author of the Brave Writer curriculum and The Brave Learner Book). And so so so many others. Facebook can be helpful, too. There are lots of support groups over there. Full disclosure: some are awesome, some are drama. You can decide which ones jive with you and your homeschool style.

Just wanted to share this info in case you were at the end of your rope with virtual schooling or even just felt like you needed to explore more options for this year. I’m not trying to convince anyone to homeschool, I’m just trying to share that there are options as well as solutions around some pretty universal concerns about homeschooling. I trust that you’ll make the best decision for your family—you always do.

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SPONSORS

Blossom & Root. Today’s episode of Elevating Motherhood is sponsored by Blossom & Root a nature-based, Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum company that has been gently guiding and supporting families for years! This thoughtful, age appropriate curriculum begins at the preschool level—and acts as a much-needed resource for this age group. Blossom & Root’s Early Years Volumes 1 & 2 are valuable tools for parents with young children—whether you choose to pursue homeschool long term or not. The information and ideas are easy to follow, fun, and engaging. School age curricula are also available with more grade levels being released each year. It’s the curriculum my family uses and loves. They’ve generously offered a discount for listeners of Elevating Motherhood: use the code LORIBETH10 at checkout for 10% off your order. For more information about Blossom & Root, head over to www.elevatingmotherhood.com/homeschool

Beautiful & Simple. Today’s episode is sponsored by Beautiful & Simple. An online boutique filled with products that remind us to slow down, practice self-care, & focus on the meaningful parts of our day: the beautiful & simple moments. My favorite mug is the one that says “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s my daily reminder to take care of myself so I can take care of my family. Go check out the collection of mugs, shirts & bags currently available at www.beautifulandsimple.com

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