There are a few universal truths with homeschooling. I think we can all agree that pajama days are awesome, we parents are always questioning and striving to do our best, and no two homeschools look alike. With television shows, books, and our own memories portraying what a “typical” school day looks like for the majority of the population, it’s easy to feel a little bewildered at what a “typical” homeschool day looks like. I remember during my early days of homeschooling, I was curious and wanted to be a fly on the wall of a homeschool family’s home. I wanted a glimpse into the real “how” of each day. Did they awake with alarm clocks, chores, and a schedule? Were sleepy kiddos stumbling into the kitchen for food at different hours and directing their own time tables? Who made the coffee in the morning and how was the day planned out and by whom? I had so many questions.
It is almost a decade since I started considering homeschooling, I’ve been at it myself for 6 years, and I know now that the answer is yes. Yes to it all. Yes to schedules and alarm clocks, yes to constantly opening refrigerators and reading books, yes to up early and leaving for coop, yes to science experiments in pajamas. My homeschool has been all of these things, sometimes in one week!
I often find myself comparing our homeschool to this imaginary homeschool in my head. This imaginary homeschool has a schedule that everyone loves and sticks to with very little issue. The kids are happy to sit at the table and complete work, then blissfully skip outside for nature study and painting. They are working in harmony on the “Three Rs,” as well as scholarly and philanthropic endeavors. That mom also has all her “stuff” together, which I do not. Our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt said; “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Wise words. I wonder if he was a homeschooler, too. The more I try to measure up to this imaginary homeschool family, the more I criticize even my best efforts, and the more miserable I become. Why do I do this? I have a feeling I’m not the only one who tries to measure up to the Facebook homeschool. So why do we do this? I have a theory.
We homeschoolers have made a decision to bring the education of our children into our homes. Our homes are our private, safe spaces, and it can be scary to open up the reality of our daily lives to the outside world. While traditional schooling is portrayed everywhere, and very much a part of our culture and its schedule, homeschooling has an air of mystery about it. We are already judged for making this choice, so to open ourselves up to be judged within our community is terrifying.
I’ll go first.
There are days when homeschooling here is the kids getting their own breakfast while I sleep in, math is our grocery store trip, science is cooking dinner, and history is a documentary we watch while we eat dinner in front of the tv. Some days I make a list of school work to be done; workbook pages, online classes, copywork, free writing, cursive practice, and read alouds, and we actually get through it all! Some days it’s wandering around a museum or fair, some days it’s gaming all day. Most days, it’s a mixture of all of the above.
As I write this, it happens to be a home chore day. My husband works weekends, so our “Saturdays” happen during the week on days when we aren’t running off to co-ops. On this beautiful, overcast Tuesday my three sons are “helping” to fix the chicken coop. It’s a ridiculously hilarious and idyllic scene out my window. There is a border collie “herding” his little humans while they are chasing around our county fair-caught pig. The chickens are running away from the squealing little thing, and so we have a Three Stooges episode. This morning we did our “schooling” which included a VLACS French course, a science experiment of copper pennies from different years in white vinegar, reading a few books on dinosaurs, Lego building, a run on the rail trail with the dog, and chores, plus feeding our chickens, ducks, bunnies, pig, dog, and children. Other days we are up early, chores are done quickly, and we are at co-op by 9am ready to spend the day learning with friends. Our evenings are filled with swim team and art classes. We strive for a family meal at least once a day, and often have dinner together as we make our way through seasons of the Simpsons. Tonight, after swim practice, the plan is to have leftovers and watch Infinity War because I haven’t seen it yet and this lack of Marvel education highly offends the rest of my family.
This is just my homeschool with my husband and boys and our wacky schedule. It has changed and grown in the last six years, and I know it will continue to change over the next 12 years. We often question if we are doing enough, and seek feedback from other parents on what they do and how it works for them. We always share the truth of our story; the good, the bad, the ugly, and I encourage all of you to do the same. Let’s bring our imperfect homeschools into the limelight and normalize the alternative choices we’ve made. By sharing your stories, we all learn and feel connected.
If you feel inspired to share a day in the life of your homeschool, please send it to info@GraniteStateHomeEducators.org and we will publish it in a future newsletter.
by Kitty Michelotti