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Homeschooling, Curriculum, My Kids Will Be Ruined and Co-Ops . . . OH MY!

Why do I homeschool? . . . .

I decided to homeschool because my daughter was struggling within the Kindergarten classroom. Her class size was 36 children. She did not fit into the box public schools tend to expect all children to fit into when it comes to learning styles. She would breeze through her workbooks and worksheets that were meant to be for the week in a day. Then she would watch the clock until it was time for me to volunteer at the end of the day. She was very tearful about going to school, and I volunteered because I wanted to see what was going on in her classroom. Every day I came into her classroom it was chaos. Teachers were overwhelmed and lacked the support they needed within the classroom. Eventually, she was being punished for doing too much work and labeled as being too busy. After a long discussion with the principal expressing that a child’s love for learning should be nurtured and not destroyed, we left the school and never looked back (thank goodness Kindergarten wasn't mandatory). We headed directly for the bookstore. I took her to the workbook section and told her she could buy whatever workbook she wanted and when she was done with them, we would go and get more. Her face lit up with joy and we haven’t looked back since. She is and has always been a naturally curious child who loves learning. She is 12 now, is above grade level and thrives with homeschooling.

When do you homeschool?

We school year-round and see everything as an opportunity to learn something. For instance, if we are baking or cooking, I will cut the recipe in half or double it to challenge their math skills (also while sneaking in home economics). If we are going to the grocery store, the kids will have to create the list of what we need, create the budget and stay on budget at the store. When we get to the register their favorite game begins, beat the cash register. Basically, whoever can get the change we are owed right before the register displays it gets to keep it.

They independently work on worksheets. I typically leave it in a folder for them and they enjoy the sense of freedom in deciding which worksheets they want to do first. Their learning is child led so we learn about what they are interested in. Some days we are done by noon, other days they get immersed in learning and will be involved in researching it further and learning more until 3 or 4 o'clock. We also make time for reading most days.

There are special field trip days when we go on outings with the homeschool field trip group I run Outstanding Homeschool Adventures (OHA). It allows us to connect with homeschooling families and experience some hands-on learning/fun together. We also love getting together with friends to work on group lessons sometimes. You can learn so much from other homeschooling families. Homeschool moms are literally walking and talking Pintrest Boards.

But what about the curriculum?!!

There isn't a homeschool group online that doesn't have a curriculum thread. The idea of having to choose curriculum for your child can quickly become overwhelming. So I'm here to tell you to chill out and don't rush out and spend money on curriculum! Most of what we have chosen was recommended by fellow homeschooling families. We get our curriculum from curriculum swaps, Amazon, The Dollar Store, Walmart, BJs, Costco, online homeschooling curriculum sights, our local library, and Facebook homeschooling groups. The best thing you can do is ask homeschooling families for suggestions and ideas. I always encourage people to join a homeschool Facebook group and ask questions! The homeschooling community is very welcoming and we are more than happy to help. Pinterest is also amazing for finding fun projects to do. I was so overwhelmed with the concept of needing a curriculum, a schedule, a plan and it took another homeschool mom to remind me “you are not the public-school system, you know your children and your the best person for the job.” Hearing that it allowed me to stop obsessing over figuring everything out right away. We took our time to figure out what worked for us as a family. Things didn’t get comfortable until our second year in. I was amazed how well my gang took to homeschooling and how they strive learning at home.

How do I know i'm not screwing them up?

As you begin your homeschooling journey with your children you will learn what works best for them, and as their learning style changes you have the freedom to change your teaching styles to compliment that. When their interests change you can change your curriculum to support their new found interests and foster their learning even further. With homeschooling there's endless room and opportunity for growth and change. Figuring out what style of homeschooling worked for us was a challenge but eventually we found what worked for us. Watching their love for self-guided learning grow is an amazing experience. Watching them pick up a book to read on their own, or asking to watch a new documentary they read about, or just simply asking “hey can we learn about the Mayan Ruins?!” The freedom for them to explore what interests them makes it worth it. I also love that they are comfortable speaking to children of all ages and even adults. They have such a strong sense of self, confidence, and knowledge that will carry them far in life.

Should I join a Co-op?

Some families love their homeschool co-ops, which are made up of many different families and each family contributes lessons for the children throughout the year. We tried a few different ones but ended up deciding they weren't for us and that is when OHA was born. Don't get me wrong some co-ops are wonderful, just do your research before commiting. Ask around about them and see what other homeschooling families have to say about them. Homeschooling parents aren't shy about sharing their opinion!

How do I find other families to talk to? How will my children get socialized?

Homeschool park days are also one of our favorite things to do and a great place to connect and chat with other homeschooling families. Also you can sneak in MUCH NEEDED ADULT STIMULATION. We also go to nature, art, baking, ninja warrior, ice skating, roller skating, snowboarding, gymnastics, theater and dance classes as well. What I love the most is these experiences provide them the opportunity to socialize with others outside their peer group which wouldn’t typically happen in a public-school setting.

The most common misconception about homeschoolers I have heard is that we do not socialize our children or we are just simply odd. Not the case at all. Our children have better social lives than we do! Between park days, get togethers, field trips, classes, co-ops, and sports we have to say “no” to many things we are invited to be a part of. Honestly your homeschooled children will have a better social life than you will lol.

Homeschooling families go above and beyond for our children and their educational needs/goals. We are absolutely providing them with an education that is one of a kind. Learning for our children is an experience and not a task.

On the fence about homeschooling still?

Well I'm here to tell you to try it! Worst thing that could happen is you decide public school is the better option for your family and you re-enroll your children. However, I have only heard of a few families who have decided to try homeschooling and didn’t end up loving it but every family is different and has their own needs. Don't know where to start . . Join a few Homeschool Facebook Groups in your area! Ask what groups are in your area. Go to the homeschool park days and talk to other parents while your children play. Come on a field trip or to a class with OHA! The more you get involved in the homeschool community the easier it will be.

Lastly . . . Find your people and take your time finding them. These will be the people who talk you off the ledge when you're threatening your kids with sending them back to public school because they refuse to do their homeschool work lol. I'm not even kidding. You will need them! Oh and . . . you got this!

~ Carrie,

OHA Mom and Organizer of Contained Chaos

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