Homeschool Confessions: The Good, the Bad, and the Slightly Awkward
Well friends…You know I only post about homeschooling about once every two years, right? So bear with me while I finish what I started last week when I responded to the hottest question in the homeschool world: “What curriculum do you use?”
Today, I share a quick and honest look at some of the things that stand out to me when I think of our homeschool life. Some of the stuff that us homeschoolers don’t talk as much about.
As homeschoolers, we tend to get super defensive (or maybe it’s just me?) about things like that “socialization” question, and I think it causes us to hold back from just giving honest evaluations of how things are going in general. SO I want to give the full story. At least from our experience.
(By the way, I did address that “socialization” question as well as other homeschool stereotypes in my “Five Myths about Homeschool Families” post, which also found its way to the Huffington Post.)
So here is an honest glance at the Good, the Bad, and the Slightly Awkward in our homeschool life.
I think I’ve been pretty clear that though I was the last person to imagine homeschooling my kids, I actually LOVE IT. Besides the curriculum, and how it works for our boys’ (surf) life, there are many other things that I cherish about homeschooling. I love how tight our family is. Sure, we get on each other’s nerves and the boys squabble like any brothers, but for the most part we get along really well. We spend a LOT of time together, and it shows. My boys are all very, very close. They are very best friends. I also feel extremely comfortable talking to my boys about anything, and so far, I think they still feel really good talking to me as well. There is no awkward distance. I could go on and on about the relationships between the siblings or between Dave and I and our boys…That alone makes me so happy for the chance to homeschool.
They also can freely express themselves in the classroom. Which looks different every. single. day.
There are plenty of other things that I thank God for in our homeschool life: I am thrilled to that the boys can pursue their passions, like photography, videography, and other hobbies; Bird-watching, studying rocks and minerals, the solar system, and the list goes on. All of that just works because they are home, and therefore can include their passions in their daily routine.
The boys love to learn, and I love being around to watch them light up when they learn something new, or when they ace a test. I wouldn’t want to miss any of this! Another benefit is that I am the one to catch it if they do score poorly on a test or I see some area that is challenging them. Nothing “slips through the cracks.” I can then stop, help figure out what the problem is, and further their learning process, instead of having to keep up with a class and ignoring something that may become a bigger problem later.
They also spend a lot of time outdoors. Jumping on the trampoline, climbing trees, or just hanging out, having meaningful conversations with man’s best friends…
Belonging: Sports Teams, etc.
I wish it were easier for my boys to be involved in team sports and other activities. Some of this has to do with where we live, so it isn’t necessarily just a homeschool thing. Josiah and Luke are most into surfing and skating, which are both individual sports any ways, but I think all three of my older boys would benefit from more team sports. I especially wish Jonah could get more involved in a variety of sports, since he doesn’t surf or skate as much. There are some team sports available (Jonah plays soccer every fall, and he has dabbled in other sports,) but as he gets older, there are less team sports available unless he is enrolled in a school. Since I grew up very involved in team sports, I guess this makes me a little sad.
I am NOT talking about problems with socialization. (Have I mentioned where I stand on that? 😉)
Honestly though, the friendship thing is tricky for all of my boys. SO far, they each have a couple good buddies who they get together with on and off…But between living up in the country (they can’t just run down the street to hang out with friends,) and not going to school every day, my boys are often just out of the loop. They aren’t in the middle of the social scene, and in some ways I don’t mind (or I am glad) for that, but it does hurt my heart when I know that they are craving more friendships, and we can’t just force that to happen. They see friends at youth group and at the beach but, that isn’t always enough. Kids have short attention spans–They think to call and hang out with whoever they just spent time with last, so if they have friends they just saw at school, they’ll get together with them before they’re likely to remember the Swanson boys up on the hill. (there are a few exceptions to that, and I send HUGE thanks to the school kids that do remember to call my boys after school to play on occasion!)
As far as this area is concerned, I have also been negligent to a large extent because it is SO easy to just let my boys hang out together. They have a great time, and it is easy. I haven’t put out the effort to get them together with other kids as much as I should…
Obviously, I will have to make more efforts in this area for Levi, since his brothers are so much older, and he’ll need playmates that much more!
I wouldn’t say that there is a lot of awkward in our boys’ homeschool lives. But I’ll be the first to admit that there might be a few holes in my homeschooling. And sadly, this usually leaves my boys in the awkward department. This hit me recently after two of my boys went to a youth group camp. They both came home and told me that there had been big games of volleyball at camp. As soon as I heard the word volleyball, my heart raced. Oh no. They didn’t even need to tell me. I KNEW IT.
First, let me back up to say that I played Varsity volleyball all four years of high school. I lived with Pepperdine Volleyball players in college. I love volleyball. I know all about volleyball.
My boys however…Um, haven’t exactly been taught much of anything about volleyball. Or football. Or baseball. SHOOT! How did we forget? I felt so bad. So, the boys might have had a few awkward moments of camp volleyball, and I take the blame.
I literally went out the very next week, bought a football, a volleyball, two frisbees, and an entire basketball hoop to set up in our front driveway.
Things will change.
I will make this up to you boys, I promise.
Of course I could go on and on, but those are the things that stand out to me in our homeschool experience lately. As always–feel free to ask questions! And if you’re a homeschool family, I hope you’ll share a few of your homeschool experiences as well.
Just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the mother of 6. 3 girls, 3 boys. Three are in their twenties. Our youngest three are David age 13, Sarah almost 10, and Breanna almost 8. I home school as well, but through K12. We lived in Waianae, Oahu up until 2/13 and chose to home school because of the problems with bullying in Hawaiian schools. We really miss island life. But I felt my children would benefit more from the curriculum and support offered through K12. We love the freedom and flexibility of home schooling. I really enjoy your blogs and look forward to reading more.
Thank you so much for sharing your honest experience. A genuine look into fellow homeschoolers is so reassuring on so many levels. Your experience is very similiar to mine.
I have two little boys ages 7 & 8.
I agree on the closeness of them as brothers and our relationship as a family whole.
Looking forward to more insights. 😉
I am so grateful to have found your wonderful blog. I am sure I will learn a lot thanks to you.
We have been homeschooling my kids for 3 years, Daniel is 14 years old and Sara is 11 years old. We watched your video and started searching for options. We found http://www.cyberschool.com and would appreciate a lot if you could give us your feed back between this online school and the one you have now (Abeka).
Again thank you for this blog and your awesome knowledge and way of thinking, I really admire you.
Paola–Thank you so much! There are so many (hundreds…thousands) of options out there, and most of them are really good. Most important thing is to find a good fit for your family/learning style, etc, so if you find anything you feel good about, it is worth a shot! Best of luck to you, and do keep in touch. Aloha!
I stumbled on to your blog from a link on fb and have really enjoyed reading it! The post on what teenage boys need from their Mom and now this one on homeschooling are so accurate! I’m amazed at how much we have in common! I have also homeschooled my 3 teenage boys for several years now as well as my teenage daughter. We live in Hawaii…I’m assuming you do as well. 🙂 It can be so challenging to find ways to help our kids to make good friendships although they are best friends with one another and our family is super close. I love that! We joined a co-op last year that has made a huge difference. It has been a blessing to find other like-minded kids and families and to build relationships with them. Thanks so much for your blog! It’s super encouraging to know that there are other families out there going through such similar things. God bless you and may your blog be an encouragement and inspiration to other moms as they raise their kids!
This resonates with me on so many levels.
The team and friendship thing is on my mind a lot lately. My boys have done team sports through the base since we moved here. My youngest has loved it. My oldest has played baseball and every single season there has been a ridiculous amount of parent drama to the point, he isn’t sure he wants to even play this next year.
And the friendships are what my kids miss most from traditional school. They miss interacting on a daily basis with their “people.” For the past two years our Classical Conversations community has been in Mililani, which is a bit of a hike from our house. Most of our friends live on that side of the island so we can’t see them every day. We don’t have many kids in our neighborhood. I’m still trying to think of some creative ways to solve this problem. They are plugged in at church, but we only see those friends at church events. And our church isn’t that close to our neighborhood.
Glad to know I’m not the only homeschool mom still working out these kinks.
You know how much I love every single one of your Home-School related posts. Mostly because I fully agree with you 100%. Give me a second to address that AWKWARD you mentioned.
As someone who has now been a youth group leader for over a year and been a part of a couple youth group camps as a leader. That awkwardness happens whether the kid is home-schooled, private schooled or public school. It’s (unfortunately) the nature of middle school and high school. Imagine the awkwardness of the super start varisity volleyball player who has to reign themselves in when they are playing church ball. It has nothing to do with you “forgetting” to teach them how to play that particular sport. It will be just as awkward for the kid who chooses to be a part of the chess team instead of the basketball team.
And besides what kinda youth group camp is playing a straight up by the rules sport? Seriously where is the Blob tag and the Flarball?
As someone who grew up being homeschooled (just through 7th grade), I can appreciate every thing you mention in this post. The socialization aspect is really accurate — we didn’t lack activities to be a part of, it was more the friendship aspect like you mentioned (being “out of the loop”) and I think that even has carried into my life as an adult. Love reading these posts, as my husband and I have to eventually decide what educational path to give our son. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
It is exhausting sometimes keeping up with activities! Matthew is home alone with me all day. So he does karate 3 nights and scouts another night. Then co-op on Friday’s. Then what ever Saturday thing happening with them. He has neighborhood friends too. We are moving in August and I am so scared of starting over for him.
Do home school families in your area ever get together for field trips or units of study?
Shannon–Yes, and I should probably go back and add to my post. We have a coop here on the North Shore that we used to be quite active in. Many of the kids have gotten older, and our schedules are so full with our school at home, that for the older kids it has kind of dwindled. It is a small and casual group, but it does provide something positive, and I always encourage people to get into one if they can. Maybe I’ll be jumping back in when Levi begins his homeschool adventure. (if/when :))
Thanks for sharing it all. I appreciate your honesty so much. Have you homeschooled all your boys right from the start? If so, HOW??? Lol
Angela–Thank you. All of my boys have gone to preschool and the oldest stayed in a private school through kindergarten and first grade. Everyone else has been home since Kindergarten. It helps me to send the preschoolers out so I can focus on the school age kids. 🙂 You can click on links to my various homeschool posts, but I will be grouping them together soon (hopefully) so they are easy to find 🙂 Aloha!