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9 Realities of Homeschooling Most People Don't Know

Photograph by Twenty20

This fall marks my third official year of homeschooling. My daughter will be starting second grade, and my son will be starting kindergarten. I also have a 2-1/2-year-old at home who I attempt to engage in learning activities (easier said than done) and an almost-1-year-old. Don’t worry, we’re pretty sure we’re done having kids, so I don't think we’ll become one of those kind of homeschool families.

Oddly enough, I never planned to homeschool my children. I grew up in private school while my husband went to a public school. Homeschooling is not a path we’re familiar with, and yet, it feels very right for us.

When asked if we’re homeschool lifers (kindergarten through high school) we always say we're making our plan one year at a time, one child at a time. It keeps us from feeling stuck, pressured or too tied to one learning system. It truly is a privilege to have the choice to homeschool—and for that, we are thankful.

Good thing we all love each other because the kids don’t get to request a new teacher next year.

But, as with all good things, there are surprises and headaches. Here are some realities of homeschooling many people don't know about.

1. We aren't actually home a whole lot. We participate in two co-ops throughout the week and two other extracurricular activities in the evenings. Plus, they get a lot of life-skill lessons running all my errands with me. Grocery store math is math that really counts when you grow up!

2. Teaching multiplication to one kid while helping another sound out words while getting a snack for another and attempting to keep a baby from climbing the stairs is a lot to juggle. Sometimes I earn an A on my teacher/mom tasks. Sometimes my husband has to keep me from posting an ad for a substitute.

3. Kids do not learn the same. What works for one most likely will not work for the other. I’m constantly assessing and learning how to better teach and tailor things. This is the beauty of homeschooling. You really do get to give your kids a personalized education.

4. Tablet learning games are a lifesaver, as are audiobooks.

5. You do not have to be smart or creative to homeschool your kids. You only have to be willing to learn.

6. Afternoon nap time/quiet time is sacred. My big kids do independent work or playing while the little ones nap. That means Mama gets a break before the dinnertime routine begins.

7. Homeschooling is messy. It feels like everything is always exploding: the bookcase, the art cupboard, my toddler’s car collection (the only thing that keeps him occupied these days). I think I need a "school janitor" to help me keep things in line.

8. The flexibility is beyond amazing. If I need to schedule doctor’s appointments or a play date or just need to take a day off to regroup, we can plan for another school day to run longer or turn Saturday into a school day to make it up.

9. My kids totally annoy me sometimes. How could they not, when we literally spend all our time together? I bet I annoy them, too. Good thing we all love each other because the kids don’t get to request a new teacher next year. I’m it—again!

To all you fellow homeschoolers, am I right or am I right? And, to those of you who think homeschooling is worth a try, do it! You’ll never know if it’s a good match until you give it a go.

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