I May Have To Homeschool This Fall. What Should I Do?
I received this exact question last week from a mom, desperate to figure out how to respond to the safety changes her school district will be implementing this fall.
She knows she needs to keep her son home. He was already struggling with some of the sensory components of school and with behavior regulation and self control. In her words, “No way is school an option for us until things get back to normal.”
She is not the only one asking this question.
In fact, over the past month, I have heard some variation of this request multiple times. Friends of mine, who have also homeschooled for years, are being asked the same question, over and over again.
Unfortunately, not everyone is being kind in their answers.
I see posts all day on Facebook from well-meaning homeschoolers, celebrating how great it is that their children are homeschooled and don’t have to worry about any school changes in the fall. While I understand the relief, I think it’s rude and short-sighted to rub it in.
I also think it is blatantly unrealistic to think that everyone has the same access to homeschooling.
For instance, ten years ago, when I was a single mom, I have no idea how I would’ve handled all of this. I have no idea how my children would’ve handled all of this.
I needed to work. I didn’t know that homeschooling is so much more flexible than it seems. I would’ve tried to figure something out, short term, until school got back to “normal.”
It’s where almost all the moms reaching out to me are – Just help me get through the fall. Tell me what I need to do, just for the short term.
What they don’t need is a dissertation on all the benefits of homeschooling, or a list of all of the amazing options there are for homeschooling.
They need a quick, short-term plan to weather the storm.
I hope this helps.
I May Have To Homeschool This Fall. What Should I Do?
This is what I recommend for any parent heading into homeschooling this fall.
Take Some Time
I know it seems like you have to figure it all out now, before the school year begins, but I promise you have options and time. You don’t have to immediately do anything, other than make the decision and probably freak out a little.
The truth is, those of us who have homeschooled for years came to this decision gradually. We had time to sort through what we wanted to do, why we wanted to do it, and all the different options available to us.
You have had none of the above.
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and unsure about all of this. I certainly would in your shoes and did back when we decided to do this, under much better circumstances.
Take a deep breath. Making the decision to homeschool is often the hardest part. You’ve done it, so you’re already half-way there.
Define Your Homeschool Objectives
Are you interested in homeschooling in general? Is it something you have had this nagging interest in for a while?
Are you just looking to get this semester over with and have your children back in school as soon as it makes sense?
How you answer these questions will help you figure out where to go next.
If you feel like you have to homeschool this fall, it’s important to know where you are starting and what you are hoping to accomplish.
For example, you are looking at this as very brief solution for the next few months, you may want to consider a program where everything is completely done for you. You literally turn on the computer, or open up the box of curriculum, and school is in session.
This type of approach typically aligns more with a “school at home” mentality and will keep your child in the same sort of routine as a more formal school environment.
On the other hand, if you are doing this more as an experiment, to see if homeshooling might be a good fit for your family long term, you will probably want to spend a little more time researching different homeschooling styles and methods.
There Is No Right Or Wrong Way
No matter how you answer the questions above, or what you decide to do, what I really want you to know is that there is no right or wrong way to do this. There is no shame in saying I am going to survive the first part of the school year and that ‘s about all I can commit to right now.
There is also nothing wrong with taking some time to try to help your children process what’s happening in their world right now.
You do what you need to do for your family – whatever that is. This is the only right answer that exists in homeschooling, especially in today’s world.
Don’t Panic. Everyone Is Behind.
Some of the moms I work with have been terrified about how behind their kids are vs. where they were supposed to be at the end of the school year. They are worried that they will continue to lose academic progress at school with all of the new guidelines and restrictions. Worse yet, they are worried that their kiddos will be even more behind if they “fail” at this homeschool thing.
I want you to know that everyone, on one level or another, is “behind” right now.
Even those of us who have homeschooled for a decade have had to manage all the change, anxiety and pressure that comes with being a human being in 2020.
It’s true for all of us, academically or not. We will need time to “catch up” on so many levels once all of this is over.
It’s OK to be behind right now, whatever that means.
And maybe the very best answer I can give you when you ask me What should I do if I have to homeschool this fall?
You do what you need to do. You take the next step and then the next.
Homeschooling is exactly like motherhood – there is no one way.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
But in the end, you keep going.
You keep loving.
You figure it out.
For more ideas, support and encouragement:
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.