Homeschooling....Mind, Body and Soul
As I began researching this homeschooling adventure, I recall feeling a bit overwhelmed by the curriculum list that our state provided, not so much about the amount of things, but how to find all the different resources to cover all these subjects. It took me almost no time of researching to realize that we are in fact the resource for a lot of these things, which is one of the ways that homeschool has been so beneficial for my kids.
The Road Home
Homeschooling is something that I was always interested in, though I always felt that I would not be able to meet all of my kids needs and basically talked myself out of it and certainly would never make my husband feel confident in going that route; if I didn't even believe in myself. So I just did what most do and sent them off to public school. My husband and I, like a lot of parents had a significant change in perspective and opinion once the covid 19 pandemic hit and suddenly our kids were scattered around the house, on their laptops and we got to not only see what our kids were learning, but how they were being taught, and how the situation effected them not only academically, but mentally and physically.
We are fortunate that we do live in a great town, with a school district that we were always pretty happy with, but once my already anxious kids were home every day, with out the outlets and resources to help them manage their social anxieties, not getting the level of education they needed to grow, and becoming less physically active as we all learned to maneuver this new and scary world, I saw a change in them, they were all struggling in several areas and far more emotionally fragile than before our lives were turned upside down, and who could blame them, us as adults have struggled mentally with all of the confusion and changes.
We got through remote learning and as the year wrapped up, everything seemed to be going in the direction of normal again, but as we all know, by the end of summer we quickly saw those dreams of maskless school slip away, and that is when I decided that I needed to turn to the one with all the answers.... So I prayed. Now, praying is a pretty normal thing for me, I converse with God daily and I knew that if I leaned on him when it came to such an important decision, he would do as he always does and guide me in the right direction, but the clarity in which he inspired me was next level, and all you devout Christians know what I am talking about.... That zero doubt, confidence that he puts on your heart, I knew what I had to do..... After I convinced my husband that is.
Generally, I don't tell my husband what we are doing, we discuss and make decisions together, so that is how I approached this sensitive subject, and this part may come off a bit controversial, but when he was naturally reluctant as he had not communed with God on the subject, I told him that I knew for certain that this is what God wanted for us, that THIS was the right path, and that this decision was divinely inspired, that he just had to trust me.... And he did.
So my husband agreed to homeschooling and now I just had to figure out all the logistics. Fortunately I had an acquaintance who had already been homeschooling her massive amount of children for a year, and she helped point me in the right direction and really made it all seem easy (she is a rock star).
I put together an academic plan based on what my state was looking for(so basically math science, social studies, language arts) and I decided to use a mix of online courses (Acellus) and work books (Spectrum). Admittedly, when it comes to academics, I usually stick to the Acellus courses. For $25 a month; per student, you get 7 classes which cover your typical academics, but has a lot of great options for extracurriculars and specific interests, from stem and art, to social and emotional learning and even has the option to choose any class at any grade level, so my thirteen year old son; that is interested in going to a vocational school eventually, can get a jump start with an HVAC 1 course and he loves it!
The state wants all the academics covered (reasonable), but they also want us instilling development and support beyond academics (also reasonable) which isn't offered in an online course, go figure.... and that is where we as parents come in as a resource and that is what has truly made homeschooling so beneficial for us.
Seeing as we were taking over this whole thing, we had to consider all the things our kids were missing out on the year prior; that held so much importance on their over all well being.....we needed to get moving.
During the pandemic, we would go for walks, throw the ball around, play tag, but we were not getting our hearts beating as much as we should and also had been missing out on organized sports for most of the pandemic; which was a further hit to the kids socialization and in turn worsened their social anxiety. So we got them involved again and the change was almost immediate. My middle daughters anxiety can be severe, definitely worse than the other two, and very much like myself (now THAT'S a future blog post). She was tearing up before we would even pull out of the driveway for small tasks and activities, and in no time, she was chomping at the bit to get to practices and even (though it was not necessary, she has maintained a healthy size throughout) she was started to get more fit and feel overall, more confident.... and the other two followed suit. Being around other people, and cheering her on in the warm sun was like therapy for everyone and we all started feeling a bit lighter at that point. We also started hiking/walking/and running several days a week. This was a great way to get our phys ed in, and to connect to nature and God.
Homeschool hasn't only been something that our kids have learned from, I myself have learned and grown so much, and a lot of that came from organizing our lives and finding; not only a more effective ways to instill these important aspects of life, but the more efficient ways.
While hiking and getting out in the sun helped us physically, it also helped us spiritually. Like I said before, we connect with God when we are out in nature. We have deep conversations about God and the Bible. We talk about what is expected of us as Christians and what we can do to be better Christians.
I don't intend to knock public school, as our experience there was mostly good, but this is the aspect of homeschool that can't be replicated. When we are out there; we are getting out hearts pumping (+), we are producing hormones and chemicals that make us make us happier and mentally stronger (+), we are connecting with each other, forming a strong bond (+), and we are connecting with God, finding love, peace, inspiration, and motivation in that relationship (+). We are doing all those things simultaneously, often within an hour window and feeling the benefits on such a deep level. I can see the change in all three of my kids, and I can't express how fulfilling it is to know that I could do that for them, that I could teach them the importance of all those things and make them stronger, more confident people.
Hitting Our Stride
After wanting to do this for so many years, but not having the confidence to pull it off; it is a testament to how not only do we have the ability to do more than what even we think we can, but to the fact that God will give such clear and meaningful guidance. He left no doubt in my mind that I could do all of the things that I now know I can do, and do them well.
Since homeschooling all of my kids, confidence has gone up and anxiety has gone down. My kids have to hold themselves more accountable; as do I, and that has resulted in us all being far more motivated and accomplished people. An example; I went into my thirteen year old son's room and he wasn't playing video games when he could have been, he was sitting up in his bed reading a devotional that his uncle had given him for Christmas and later that day was doing situps.... Of his own volition 😳. Their GPA's have all gone up, likely because they aren't 1 out of 30, all being taught at the same pace despite having different educational needs, often being either bored as they wait to move on or confused as they wait for individual instruction and help. They accomplish more academically in 3-4 hours than they ever could lost in the hustle at school, never mind all the time spent waiting in drop off and pick up lines or standing at inclement bus stops, and lining up to walk from one class/activity to the next class/activity, and simply just waiting for others to learn. And in my opinion; most importantly, they have had the time to connect with each other and us; on a level that most families don't get to have. Our kids are learning important life skills that aren't offered at school. We have Bible class a couple of times a week, they are learning the skills and necessities to run a home, from finances to housework. They are learning what I believe they should be learning about history, and government, and about the importance of healthy eating habits and physical fitness, and through all these things; plus what I am forgetting, they are learning ethics and morals; that will benefit them in every aspect of life.
Making Our Own Choices
After everything that we have all been through over the past couple of years, I couldn't see myself sending them off to school for 6+ hours wearing a mask and inevitably feeling the same anxieties and lack of normalcy that they have been dealing with for too long already.
I absolutely understand and respect everyone's individual decisions on these matters, as I believe it is so important for us to control our own lives and meet our individual families needs, but for us, it was less of a concern about exposing our kids to germs, and more of a concern about exposing them to the confusion and inconsistency that covid 19 policies and restrictions bring. We have been able to avoid those exposure emails and repeated testing, because we saw how this pandemic affected our children. We decided for ourselves to remove our kids from that situation, and we now know, and have had it confirmed that; that decision is what was best for our families Minds, Bodies and Souls.
If you are considering homeschooling I suggest, first and foremost, talk to God! He will give you the clarity and confidence you need, I can never emphasis the power of prayers enough, but also do your research on curriculum options and if you are in Massachusetts reference AHEM for important Charles case law information to help you maneuver the process and expectaions.
If you have any questions about our journey or how you might be able to manage your own homeschooling adventure, please don't hesitate to reach out.
You can call or text me at 781-679-4905
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Or just comment below, I would be more than happy helpin any way that I can.
Thanks for reading!