Friendship, Homeschooling, Parenting

What Covid-19 Affirmed

Right now, in my area, the Covid-19 risk is decreasing. As I watched the media coverage the first year of Covid-19, I saw celebrities discover:

Managing life at home requires skill. Lots of skill;

Not traveling whenever or wherever you want is an eyeopener;

Homeschooling is hard. Very hard;

Untrained moms and dads can homeschool;

Cooking three meals a day for weeks and weeks requires creativity;

Not having a daily hair stylist means your hair is not perfect and takes more time than you have;

Not having a make-up artist means your make-up is not perfect and takes time than you have;

Caring for children 24 hours a day is exhausting;

Slowing down brings joy;

Your children want you more than the stuff your money bought them.

Thank you, Rich and Famous—especially morning news anchors—for your honesty. You may have lived a radically different life from mine pre-Covid-19, but in some ways, you were like me all along.

What did you learn watching others adjust due to the pandemic?

Decisions, Homeschooling

Considering Homeschooling? Why?

During school shutdowns due to Covid-19, articles about the disruption to families’ lives abounded. Newscasts reported students falling behind.

Why? Each year, parents happily homeschool millions of children, and those families not only survive but also thrive.*

Although it should be obvious that homeschooling only works if you want to homeschool, along the way I learned that some parents miss that truth.

Before Covid-19, I met homeschoolers who pressured themselves or felt pressured by others to homeschool. One family homeschooled out of fear. Those parents were miserable. The children were barely surviving. Thankfully, the parents eventually chose other options.

Years later, I met families who successfully homeschooled some of their children but not all. Circumstances varied as to why certain children did not want to be homeschooled or why parents did not want to homeschool certain children. All thrived with their tailor-made options.

Just as I married because I wanted to marry—not due to pressure or fear—I needed to homeschool because I wanted to homeschool—which carried me through many challenges.

Considering homeschooling this year? Why?

*U.S. Department of Education estimated 1.69 million students were homeschooled in 2016.


Let’s Celebrate!

Homeschoolers celebrate high school graduation in style, and our family followed that tradition.

Unfortunately, we didn’t celebrate other milestones that traditional schools celebrated. Along the way, I learned.

At one annual portfolio review of my boys’ work, my reviewer—who later became my supervisor and dear friend—gave me a Lenox plate. “You are my Homeschool Teacher of the Year,” she said. “It’s not fair that homeschool teachers are not recognized.” My husband agreed and took the family to dinner that night.  I have vivid memories of that occasion.

I should have been spurred on to celebrate more of my sons’ achievements. I wasn’t.  I continued to lag in celebrating.

A couple of years later, a phone call from my brother motivated me.  He was headed to my niece’s end-of-the-school-year award ceremony. She was being recognized. I hung up the phone, ordered a cake, and bought three gift certificates from the local bookstore. My husband made certificates for the areas in which the boys had improved the most. We partied a few nights later, something we should have done much sooner.

June is a great month to celebrate our students’ work and progress.


Homeschooling, Parenting

A Teachable Moments Perspective*

I ended my last blog with the question How do you decide whether to ignore or seize a teachable moment? (See here.)

Kathleen, one of my favorite moms, responded with her answer. Seize when your children are interested.

I never had a problem with my mom’s teachable moments, but I’ve never cared for my dad’s. I think the difference in their cases is that my mom taught when WE were interested; my dad taught when HE was interested. 

Kathleen, a second-generation homeschooler, with her boys.

This perceptive mom pinpointed the overload of teachable moments in my household—and other households with curious parents. Not only did I want my children to learn from any educational opportunities, but also, I wanted to learn. Loaded with new knowledge and understanding due to homeschooling, how could I not pass along new connections as soon as I discovered them?

What could be better than delving deeper into past or current lessons? My sons’ answers: Legos, Playmobils, baseball, and Redwall books—eventually replaced by music, running, and computers.

Kathleen ended with this advice: Keep teachable moments short, responding to cool things as a parent and not as a teacher.

*Used with permission.


Teachable Moments

While homeschooling, I seized opportunities to make connections between academic learning and everyday life. I referred to these chances as “teachable moments.”

After graduating, one son participated in a panel discussion with other homeschool graduates. I did not attend so my son could speak freely. The next day, a mom said every student complained about school never ending.

Why did movies, news accounts, neighborhood events—almost anything—that related to a former or current school topic have to be discussed from a learning point of view?

A few weeks later, I reviewed the portfolio of a frustrated homeschool mom. After teaching her daughters about the fall of communism, Gorbachev was mentioned on the national news. “Wouldn’t any teacher want to connect current news to a history lesson?” she asked. “Why did the discussion make my daughters angry?”

Along the way, I learned that homeschooled students disliked and dreaded the “teachable moments” we parents loved and seized. I wish I had known to be more discerning about applying academic lessons.

How do you decide whether to ignore or seize a teachable moment?