Blending school learning with home learning

I’ve always wanted to homeschool. I spent years curating and collecting information on the topic and researching ideas and methodologies.

The thing I’m not good at, though, was the thing that stood in the way of ever getting homeschooling off the ground in our house: sticking to a plan.

I made plans to leave my job, stay at home with my kids, freelance, etc., but I put exactly none of those of plans into action. So, my kids started school at the required age and I kept working (because each time I returned to the working world after a maternity leave, I couldn’t imagine not working, as much as I missed my kids).

So, year after year, I talked about homeschooling (even got really close once when things went sideways at the school my kids attended), but a solution presented itself that wasn’t me staying at home and, because it’s what my kids wanted, we went with a school transfer into the private system.

We knew that wasn’t going to be a long-term solution (cost being the biggest factor), but it gave the kids a safe learning space while we weighed our options.

Throughout all the years my kids have been in school, public or private, I’ve enhanced their learning by doing after schooling with them.

Each day, after school, we’d come back together with a sweet treat and warm tea or cocoa, we’d talk about our day and we’d shift into slower gears. Once our snack was cleaned up, we’d do homework assigned by teachers (of which there was never much) and we’d read or practice cursive writing or play math games or look up things we were interested in either at the library or at home on the computer.

There were days when this didn’t happen because of after-school activities, but mostly, the kids were at the kitchen table working on something. Our summers were spent like this, too, with learning built into every day.

With a recent uptick in extra-curricular activities over the last two years, we have had to let our after schooling slide to the point of almost non-existence. I still try hard for the summers, though. Two months off school is a long time.

It has always been my belief that teaching is not the sole responsibility of teachers. Parents are children’s first teachers, and what children learn in the home is so important to how they learn in the outside world.

And now, even though my kids are dying to return to school and are retracting every negative comment they ever made or complaint they ever issued about school, I have to say that I’m content. They are enjoying the flexibility that learning at their own pace and in their own space affords them. And I can help and guide them or let them work on their own. We are in a good place after our years of working together. This is not a struggle because we have always learned together.

I now see those years of after schooling as having built a learning foundation with my children. And all those years that I wished I could have homeschooled them, and regretted not jumping in with both feet, I see their worth. Those years were building blocks that will help us through this.

And I think I understand now why I never put my homeschooling plan into action: it was too big of a responsibility for me to take on alone and I’m not one to forge ahead on something where there are so many unknowns (my own mental state prevents me from firmly placing myself in the driver seat of any action plan).

But with this blended learning model where my kids’ teachers are firmly in charge of the lesson plans and I’m back to enhancing their learning and filling in gaps of understanding, my kids and I can thrive.

With as open a mind as I can have, I look forward to the next weeks and possibly months of learning away from school. It will be an interesting, challenging and rewarding time.

What things in your life have prepared you for what we are now facing?

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