So you want to homeschool…..

With the COVID-19 pandemic this year and the uncertainty of what schools are going to require when they finally reopen, many parents are considering for the first time in their lives homeschooling their children.  I thought I would share some lessons I’ve learned over the years.  At this point in 2020 I have now homeschooled 6 children for the last 22 years.  If I add all the years for each child that’s 99 years of schooling.  I’m counting each child starting at the age of 1 because let’s face it, you really are their first teacher.  Without you they wouldn’t have learned to walk and talk, to use a spoon, fork, knife, etc. 

If I were to sit down with someone who was considering homeschooling what would I say to them?  I think I’d have to start by saying that there are as many different ways to homeschool as there are unique people in the world.  Don’t think your homeschool is going to look like someone else’s.  You will find what works for you and for your child(ren) and that’s what matters most.

We need to cover the legal issues up front.  Every state has their own requirements for homeschooling.  Check into those and make sure you comply with them.  HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense) has some great information on that.  A simple google search of your state homeschooling will probably give you plenty of articles as well.  I’ve known people who have homeschooled in the easy states and the hard states and they all have done it successfully.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are probably right.  Your attitude is going to be a big issue here.  If you are convinced you cannot do this, that your child(ren) won’t listen to you, that it’s too hard, you’re not smart enough, then you will fail.  But if you are willing to learn, be flexible and not give up, then you will succeed.  You don’t have to be a math genius to teach math.  There’s plenty of resources available that can make up for any area you feel inadequate to teach.

Learning styles.  Yes, there are different learning styles.  Knowing and understanding them can be helpful but it isn’t a requirement.  Don’t get so caught up in learning what teachers learn.  You know your kids.  Do they sit quietly and listen patiently, or do they need to be active all the time?  I personally believe that boys are wired differently than girls and that most boys, not all, but many of them are more active, cannot sit still and need to move around.  That’s fine.  Use that.  If you’re in the early years of learning you can roll a ball back and forth saying the ABC’s.  That keeps them active and they learn better that way.  On the other hand I think most girls, again, not all, can sit still longer and learn in a quieter fashion.  Whatever your child’s style is, you can help them and you can find things that work for them.  It might be that your sons need a 15 minute break every hour to get up and just run or do jumping jacks to get that energy out.  Do you need to have activities that keep their hands busy that’s a kinesthetic learner.  Some kids learn better by hearing, some by reading, some need pictures.  You might need to try a few different things to see what works best.  And just because the same DNA went into creating that child, don’t think that all your children are going to be the same. 

Curriculum.  This is a big one and sometimes for those starting out it is a big scary thing.  Let me give you my first law of homeschooling.  Whatever amount of money you spend on that perfect curriculum is going to be inversely proportional to how much either you or your children hate it!  So…start small, start simple.  There are lots and I mean L O T S of free things out there.  I’ll share a link later that I use for our homeschool.  If you think you or your child will like a certain curriculum buy the first item and try it out.  Do not spend the money no matter how much you can save buying the entire year or the entire set because there’s a good chance one of you will hate it and you will have wasted your money.  Better to try something with a smaller investment.  I have lots of friends who loved Sonlight. It’s a great curriculum.  I love the idea.  I’m glad I never bought into it though because for my kids it would have been a waste of money.  I couldn’t get all of my children to sit still for the reading and it required a lot of reading. 

If you are starting to homeschool a pre-reader congratulations you are starting at the very beginning.  You have the opportunity to mold and shape them.  This can be a scary thing though.  I believe learning to read and write and basic math skills are the hardest to teach.  But at the same time there are so many great curriculums out there that it isn’t that difficult.  I chose Saxon phonics when I started because I didn’t know how to teach someone to read.  Saxon was fantastic for me because it actually used quotation marks and bold print and told you exactly what to say to your child!  How easy it that!  But as I learned my first child was gifted and I soon discovered that he was bored with their 1 letter for 5 days approach.  So I had to adapt to teach 5 lessons in 1 day and keep moving along.  But then I was stumped because he was still sounding out words at the beginning of third grade!  Shouldn’t this gifted child that was tested at the university and labeled as extremely intelligent be reading complete sentences without sounding out every word?  But third grade some magic light bulb went off and he became a fluent reader.  I still don’t know what his roadblock was nor what pushed him past it.  What I did discover though is children will learn at their own rate and pushing them too much will only frustrate them and you.  Some children excel at language, some at math, some at both and some are just average in everything.  But they can all learn and they all will learn. 

If you are starting to homeschool an older child who already can read, write and do basic math then you have an easier job.  You already have a basic foundation on which to build.  The world is your oyster!  Your challenge is going to be in finding the right fit for both you and your child. 

Family size also will play a roll in how your homeschool looks.  If you have lots of children and some younger ones, then you will need more flexibility and some options for your older children to work without supervision at times.  If you have only one or two children it might be that your school can be more structured.  Again, what works for you might not be what you saw someone else doing.

Other things I’ve learned along the way.  Be prepared for people to judge you, lecture you or even criticize you for your choice.  I will never forget when my gifted 4 year old went with me to the bank one day and the bank teller chastised me for him not being in school.  Now my children were never “average” sized and this child always looked about 2 years older than he was so people would expect him to behave well beyond what his age was.  I had just spent a week arguing with the public school system after having my son tested at my expense by a teaching college over trying to get him started in school early.  I was told by the Texas Education Agency that my child did not know how to skip and he had not lost any teeth therefore he was not ready for school.  Really?  This kid taught himself what subtraction was.  Who does that?  So my response to the bank teller was not the kindest response.  I explained to her that he was only four and too young to be allowed into school but I did agree he should be in school but the state in their infinite wisdom disagreed with her.  That conversation was probably one of several catalysts that propelled me into the world of homeschooling.  Over the years we’ve heard many of the same things.  One friend of mine was a school teacher and she lectured me on how children needed to go to public kindergarten because there was more taught in school than just reading and writing.  I asked her what she thought was necessary.  Her response was, “children learn to stand in line and take turns.”  I assured her that my son went everywhere with me and he learned to stand in line and take turns at the bank, at the grocery store and many other places so if that was what she was worried about he had plenty of opportunities for that.

There’s an old parenting adage that says, “choose your battles”.  I think this also applies in homeschooling.  I remember when a friend of ours allowed her young child to wear a swimsuit when it wasn’t appropriate.  Me in my naivete back then thought she was wrong.  I felt that she was teaching her child that parent’s don’t make the rules, children do and that it was setting a horrible precedent for that child to defy that parent for years to come.  However, as I had more children I learned that there is a way to choose your battles where you both win and there are no losers.  I’d recommend setting your non-negotiables.  What are the things that must be done on a daily and weekly basis.  Is it a certain number of hours each day or a certain amount of work in certain areas?  Figure out what your bare minimums are that must be completed each day and then be flexible on the rest.  Over the years our homeschooling has changed drastically.  I started with schooling at home.  This was me recreating everything about the public school environment in my house.  We had workbooks and schedules and time for arts and crafts and we were busy, busy, busy.  But as more children came along and different needs and such school changed over the years.  We had to adjust when a new baby would be added to the family.  We had to adjust again when my husband took his live 12 years ago.  Then we gave up our house and hit the road traveling fulltime in an RV and our homeschooling changed again.  We had a very large school room with 3 shelves of books around the entire perimeter with 2 stand alone bookshelves full of books and then we had a library complete with a rolling ladder!  Needless to say, moving into an RV meant getting rid of paper books and finding other resources that were more mobile.  As we progressed in the RV lifestyle and traveled to so many interesting places, we turned to the more untraditional “unschooling” where the children learn more of what interests them and they direct their own learning.

I would suggest you spend some time asking yourself some questions before you do anything else.  First, what is your why.  Why are you doing this?  Figure out what is most important to you and make sure you keep that in mind and allow it to influence all your other decisions.  Also be sure you know what it is because there will be some days that you question your sanity for choosing this path.  Some days just don’t go as you want and on those days if you can remember WHY you are doing this you will be less likely to quit. 

I would also recommend asking yourself what your philosophy is towards school and learning?  Do you believe it is your job to teach your child everything?  My personal philosophy is that I need to teach my child how to LEARN and then provide them with the tools they need to learn what they need to learn.  The best way I can explain the difference is this.  If I put a toddler in a high chair and feed them, that’s fine.  They need me to spoon feed them until they get to the point that they can feed themselves.  It will be messy when they start trying.  Expect the mess.  When your child was first given the spoon, they probably had cereal in their hair, on the chair, on the floor.  It was messy.  But they learned by doing and the more they did, the less mess there was.  But if I were to put my high school child in a high chair and try to spoon feed them that would just be ludicrous.  But sometimes that’s what schools do is they want to give the child each item of information and the children are dependent upon the teacher telling them what to think, do, etc.  I don’t think this is helpful.  Some children may need that but many children do not.  Depending on whether or not your child was in a public school you may have to do some de-schooling and remove some of their ideas about how school is.  I knew someone that was angry in college because the teacher didn’t “teach” them.  They just gave them a book, told them to read it and expected them to learn the material.  This was an adult that didn’t learn how to learn.  They had existed being able to be spoon fed every piece of knowledge and then regurgitate it back on a test.  I’m not saying that’s wrong.  If that’s your philosophy for learning and school and you are ok with that, then go for it.  Just be prepared to do a lot of work teaching.  For me, I choose to teach my children to read, write and do basic math and then I teach them how to learn.  I become more of a manager, giving them some assignments and guiding them and I’m always available when they get stuck but I put the build of the work onto them to read and figure things out on their own.  With one of my children when they were doing Algebra I noticed that when I graded their papers they didn’t care what they got wrong.  I got so tired of grading papers and then not seeing any effort made to find out why they missed a problem.  But when I gave them the teacher guide and had them grade their own papers suddenly they want to make an A on ever assignment and asked if they could rework the problems they missed to try to improve their grade!  I’d much rather have my child make a C, grade their own work, and then want to re-work every problem they missed so they can understand better what they are doing, than have them make an A the first time.  Sometimes, we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.

And on that point…you the parent/teacher are going to make plenty of mistakes.  You might choose the wrong curriculum or start with a schedule that just doesn’t work for your student.  Be prepared to fail and adjust your course.  Thomas Edison failed many times trying to create a light bulb that would stay lit.  But he didn’t see those as failures.  Instead he said he found X number of things that wouldn’t work.  Don’t give up.  Think of your GPS when you miss a turn do you just park the car and say that’s it.  I’ll never get to that destination?  You’d throw that GPS in the trash if it did that.  No, it recalculates and tries again.  You can keep making wrong turn after wrong turn and that thing will just keep recalculating until you finally get to your destination.  Failure is part of learning.  Don’t beat yourself up or your child up over those failures.  If you can learn something from them, then you will be wiser.

Don’t forget to think outside the box.  This is another place where you need to know what is important to you.  What is your end goal?  Do you just want to create an adult who can get a job and move out of the house?  Those requirements will look very different from the parent/teacher who wants to have a child become a doctor.  If you just want an average child, that’s fine you only need to provide average opportunities.  If you want to have an entrepreneur who starts their own business then you’ll need to encourage more out of the box thinking.  In our school it was common for me to grade a paper one of the kids did with an answer that was not what the curriculum expected but it was a valid answer.  There’s a classic meme where there is a triangle and an X on one side of the triangle and the question is “find X?”  I had a child that would circle the x and say, “here it is!”  Although that is a factual answer it was not the intended answer.  I might give them partial credit but then I’d be careful in the future to make sure something said “SOLVE for x rather than “find” x.” Of course I had another child that might say, “all my x’s live in Texas.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic there has never been a better time to homeschool.  More and more places are creating more opportunities to school online.  Museums are having tours online.  Zoos have lots of online opportunities to learn about animals and watch them through live web cams.  There are documentaries available to learn history and some fun science things online as well.  Schools are even looking into offering online options in case kids can’t get back into the classroom this year.  There has never been a time with more homeschooling material available for free than now.

Learning differences.  Be prepared for each of your children to need something different in this area.  My first child was gifted but as I said previously didn’t read fluently until the middle of third grade.  But my next child, also a son, was vastly different.  At the age of 3 he wanted to know when I was going to teach him to read.  I was still traumatized over teaching the first one to read I wasn’t ready to do that again.  But he continued to pester me so I told him when he was 4 I’d teach him.  He turned 4 and demanded to start reading.  I thought he was too young and Saxon didn’t seem to be that successful for my first one so I tried Hooked on Phonics.  I didn’t know it was supposed to be a 3 year program.  We finished the whole thing in 3 months.  This kid at the age of 4 was reading the encyclopedia.  There was nothing he couldn’t read.  He would read the cereal box and I mean every word on the box including the ingredients while eating breakfast.  He devoured words.  He also could spell anything.  I never taught him spelling.  He just spelled.  My first child was not a great speller.  He may want to shoot me for saying this but in high school he still spelled was WUZ.  He said that’s how it sounds that’s how it should be spelled.  I think he probably did it to annoy me.  He struggled with spelling so I taught him how to use Word and to use the dictionary and to use tools online to look up words.  Some people are naturally good spellers and some aren’t.  Rather than force him to keep trying to spell words properly, I decided it was better to give him the tools and teach him to use them so he could overcome his deficiency.  He wrote all of his papers in Word, used the correction tools, learned what those red lines mean and the more he used it the better his spelling and grammar got.  He was my child who wanted to try college and I was terrified when he went to take his entrance exam.  I knew he would be required to write an essay and I was worried that I hadn’t done my job properly.  He came home from the test and announced that the test examiner said his essay was very well done.  WHEW.  His writing skills were adequate!

I have a daughter who to this day will tell you she “can’t do math”.  But she’s wrong.  She doesn’t like paper math, theoretical math, algebra, geometry, etc.  She got to the point in her schooling where Algebra was her next step and was a requirement of mine for my children’s education.  But she just couldn’t and wouldn’t do it.  But…she loves to cook.  She’s been cooking since she was 11.  I don’t mean she can scramble eggs.  I mean she cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides and desserts for a houseful of singles from our church when she was 11.  I should elaborate a bit here.  If you think that she learned to cook by watching me cook because with 6 kids I must have done a lot of cooking you’re wrong.  I taught all of my kids how to cook.  I taught them to scramble eggs, to make hamburger helper, to make Kraft macaroni and cheese and to make microwave pancakes.  That’s about it.  She taught herself to cook.  I cannot tell you how many times she’d come to me asking me something about a recipe and I would tell her she has two choices, “Google or Grandma”.  I didn’t even know what those words meant much less how to actually DO them.  Right now, she’s working on creating her own sourdough starter and she’s been experimenting with bread and flours for the last two months.  She is now milling her own flour and testing out different ratios of flours to create the perfect bread recipe.  This is after she studied bread, wheat and what is happening to our bodies by consuming over-processed flour.  But…what does that have to do with math?  She’s been cooking for a family of 7 now down to 5.  Most recipes are written for servings of 4, sometimes 8.  So she has to adjust all the recipes to make them work.  She does all that math in her head.  I’m still looking for a piece of paper to figure out how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon and she’s already figured out what she needs to change.  Cooking has a lot of fractions in it as well and a lot of ratios.  She also helped remodel a condo we purchased in a ghost town.  (That was an adventure.)  She did all the math to figure out how much paint each room would need, how much primer, how much trim we needed to purchase to replace what was bad, how much stain for the floor, etc.  She may not have learned algebra but she has practical math skills and the ability to apply math in the areas where she needs it.  She also knows how to find the answer if she encounters something more complex than what she can handle.  Her desire is to be a chef.  So, should she waste time learning Algebra that she will probably never use?  I had to change my own idea of what requirements I had for each child and for each child the requirements may be different.

Also, don’t forget that chores are important.  My daughter who does the cooking she’s also done our grocery shopping for many, many years.  She figures out which items would save her money, whether buying in bulk is worth it, etc.  She loves to cook so it made sense to put her in charge of shopping.  I require all of my children to learn how to run the house.  That means that the kids all learned to change diapers, bathe the babies, feed the babies, sweep, mop, vacuum, wash dishes, wash laundry, fold laundry and put away laundry.  Basically, if it was something that needed to get done, the kids had to learn to do it.  This goes back to that philosophy question I told you to ask yourself earlier.  For me I believed I was not “raising children”  I was “raising adults”.  When my children are ready to leave home, I want them to be able to do what is necessary to run their own home.  I want them to have time management skills.  I want them to know that when they live on their own they have to do ALL the chores.  My oldest tested my philosophy when he got his first part time job.  He thought he shouldn’t have to do chores since he had a job.  I explained that when he moved out he would have to do the chores.  He argued that he would not.  He paid his sister to do his chores for him.  At first I thought he was cheating the system.  But he argued when he moves out he can hire a maid so why can’t he hire a maid now.  So…I allowed for his point of view and his sister enjoyed getting some of his money that he was earning at his part time job by doing his chores.  He was thinking outside the box.  Now, if you think that as the parent, you should do all the household chores, that’s fine.  If that works for you, do it.  Some people feel children should have time to be children.  For me, that didn’t work.  It was more important to me to know that if I weren’t here my children could manage the house without me.  Over the years how our chores were done also changed.  We had schedules, we’ve assigned chores, allowed the kids to choose their own chores, rotated chores, , etc.  If you can imagine it, we probably tried it.  Now, my kids are in charge of assigning the chores and they have their own way of working out who does what.  I believe chores teach children several valuable lessons.  One is that we all have to do things we don’t like.  Life isn’t only about doing those things we enjoy so they might as well learn that lesson now rather than be disappointed in life when they do find out.  Another thing children learn by doing chores is responsibility.  If someone else is always doing everything for you, what will your expectations be when you are an adult?

And if you disagree with me on the chores that’s fine.  Remember what I said earlier.  Your school may not look like my school.  If you want to be the only one cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping, knock yourself out!  This isn’t about you doing your school my way but you doing your school your way and what works best for your children and your family.  I’m just here to share what I’ve learned along the way and to get you to think and ask questions.

In case you are wondering where we stand now in our homeschooling.  I have 3 adult children now and 3 still in school.  One of my children got some training from a ministry that taught him a lot of useful skills.  He tried college for one semester and decided it wasn’t for him.  Through his training he acquired a long list of scuba certifications.  He moved out, got enough cash to buy a car and took off to Florida.  He had no place to stay and no job lined up but he figured it would all work out.  He landed in Florida, got a job and a place to stay and was a professional diver for 3-4 years.  He also is always learning.  He’s always finding ways to get more training usually as part of his job so he hasn’t racked up a lot of debt in order to do what he wanted to do.  He decided to venture out beyond that, so he studied to get his boat captain’s license and is now working on yachts.  When he was younger, I asked him what he thought he might want to do for a job.  I wanted to make sure I was teaching him in the areas he needed.  His response to me was, “I don’t want to be bored.”  Given the fact that one year of his diving he was salvage diving for treasure off sunken ships I’d say he succeeded.  I don’t think he’s been bored since he moved out and he’s always telling me stories of his adventures.  He’s happy, healthy, a hard worker and he’s doing what he loves to do and getting paid to do it!  I’d call that success.

Another child also a son moved out but he started at a summer camp that turned into a year long commitment.  He’s also found ways to get on the job training for free.  He took his experience from the summer camp working the ropes course and got a job with a rescue company doing high angle and low angle rescue.  He also became a volunteer fireman and got some on the job training there.  He then took his experience maintaining the pool at the summer camp and turned that into a job working for the health department.  He’s been able to gain experience and build upon his knowledge also without incurring large debts.  He’s now about to start the police academy.  He’s also a hard worker, well liked by his coworkers and always learning something new.

My only daughter to graduate, I’ve already told you what she’s working  She has wanted to be a chef for many years now.  She’s still living at home because who wants to let their personal chef leave home?  Not us.  She’s got several possibilities to consider.  She was even offered a job to work in a professional kitchen.  We were at Disney World riding the boat across to one of the parks and she met a man on the boat.  They started talking.  Somehow it came out that she wanted to be a chef.  He told her he was a chef and had been on some tv show for chef’s recently.  He gave her a business card and invited her to visit him next time we are in Dallas.  He told her he’d hire her and let her learn what it’s like working in a kitchen and suggested she do that before she spends any money on culinary school.  But she’s already found a place to get a culinary education for free.  Yep, room, board, tuition, all free.  She just has to decide if she wants to do that or if she’s ready to do that.  In the meantime, she is still enjoying traveling with the rest of us in the RV and volunteering at different places.  Earlier this year she got some experience volunteering for an RV rally and was even offered a job because of how hard she worked for free.

The other three are still doing school and each of their school is different.  One loves school and she gets her work done quickly and never misses an assignment.  Meanwhile another one has some learning challenges and it takes more effort to get his work done but he’s improved tremendously over the last two years and he’s taking more and more responsibility for getting his work done daily.  Another one is still doing work but she started a side business that grew out of a hobby so she’s spent a lot of time crocheting animals that she sells and then she’s learned a lot about business and what it takes to run one.  She has had to manage her expenses, figure out how much she needs to charge to make a profit, she’s figured out how trading time for money works and how to pay her employees when she hired her sister to help her get some things done faster.

I never expected when I started on my homeschool journey 22 years ago that I would continue.  My intention then was just to teach my gifted child to the point of third grade when the state was required to test him and then place him in a grade based on his ability.  But over the years, things changed.  My reasons changed, my beliefs changed, my philosophy changed, and my circumstances changed.  We had good days and we had bad days.  Make sure you leave room in your school plan to take time off.  Some days we’d just say “not today school” and skip it and have some fun.  Sometimes you need to do that.  Call it a mental health day.  We adjusted our schedule many, many times.  I realized that we loved going to the zoo in Texas when the weather is nice and that is NOT in the middle of summer when school is out.  So if we got up and the weather was beautiful we might go spend the day at the zoo.  Museum and zoo passes are AMAZING and available all over the country.  Check those out if you like museums, zoos and aquariums.  We got to the point of changing school so that we did more schoolwork in the middle of summer when it was too hot to want to be outside.  We might swim in the afternoon some days but we would do more work during the hot summer months so we could take time off and do fun things when we had nice weather in the traditional school months.  If you live in Alaska you might prefer schooling in the middle of winter because what else can you do during those months?

I promised to share my page so here it is.  This is my personal school page that we use every day.  The top left under OUR SCHOOL ignore those links listed under Park Avenue.  Those are to resources you have to have an account to access.  I use Microsoft O365 for Education and we have some things set up on Sharepoint.  You won’t be able to access those.  But on that tab under Daily you can access the typing web site we love, Khan Academy and PragerU.

Below that section is TOOLS.  We do a lot of Christian homeschooling and my kids have to research Bible topics and hymns, so these are the tools we use for that.  There is one tab in this group for words and that has a dictionary and other tools that anyone can find useful.

Below that I have things broken out by SUBJECT.  These are all resources we’ve used and that I’ve checked out and approved.  Just about everything on this page is free stuff.  So if you are looking for a particular subject matter you will find some good resources here.

In the middle of the page at the top I have SCHOOL and this is broken out by elementary, high school, college, electives, etc.  These are resources where they may encompass multiple subjects.  Khan Academy is one of our favorite places for free school stuff and most of my kids do their math now on Khan Academy but they also have science and history and other classes as well.  Did you know that some of the top colleges also offer free course online?  MIT has classes you can take for FREE!  If you wanted, you could find enough free resources to build your own college education and never pay for anything. 

Below that I have some items for FUN.  These were sites my kids enjoyed mostly when they were younger.  I checked all these sites and approved them so my kids knew if they were on this page they were allowed to visit them.

On the right side you’ll find a Pomodoro timer that I just added this week.  One of my children struggles with staying on task.  I added this and you can create an account and login and it will track your timers.  It has been a great help.  He stays on task better and it’s been a big help.

Below that is the resources.  I’ve collected these resources over the years and if I find something that looks good I’ll stick it here.  Many of these resources I’ve used over the years, some I just liked but didn’t use.  Some of the Christian homeschool publishers are on the curriculum tab.

I hope I’ve given you some things to get you started, to get you to ask yourself some questions before you begin and to keep you from making some mistakes that I did.  If I can answer questions, I’m always happy to share what did or didn’t work for me/us.  Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment.

Oh and you might notice that I have not addressed the issue of “socialization”.  I guess I should toss that one in here before I wrap this up.  That is probably the question asked most often of homeschoolers, “but what about socialization?”  My favorite homeschool tshirt had a picture on it of a school bus stop.  There was a stack of books on sex education and other things, the girl standing at the bus stop was pregnant and a guy standing there was smoking.  Below the picture it said, “what was your question about socialization?”  I loved that shirt.  I know not all public schools are bad and not all public schooled kids are bad.  I know some great kids that were public schooled, I know some great public school teachers as well.  There are some good schools and there are some bad schools.  But with homeschooling I get to choose more of whom my children will socialize with and what we’ve found is that our children are better able to socialize with people of different ages than some of their public schooled peers.  When you separate children by age and put them together and keep them together all day, they develop this mentality that they can only interact with those in their group.  My children have accompanied me on errands, sat in banks while conducting business, even helped me buy a car once and it was their comments to the sales person that I’m sure got them to lower the price.  My kids have visited nursing homes and RV parks and talked to people much older than them, and they’ve volunteered at church and worked in children’s ministry.  They are all different in how they like to socialize, some enjoy people more than the others, but they are all capable of having a conversation with just about anyone in any situation.  I think, especially as we’ve been traveling, that they have been more willing to talk to people they didn’t know because they know that they never have to see them again if they don’t want to.  They have no peer pressure trying to get them to do something they shouldn’t.  Because we travel fulltime my children encounter people everywhere we go that are curious about our nomadic lifestyle and how they can do school while traveling so much.  My children have had numerous conversations on various different topics and I don’t believe anyone has ever walked away from them saying, “those kids need to learn to socialize.”  There are plenty of social opportunities out there but with homeschooling you get to tailor those to your child’s needs, abilities and temperments.  Some children are more shy than others.  You can pick and choose sports or other activities they can participate in.  There are many homeschool co-ops all over the country where parents meet one day a week and split up the teaching and the children get to have a classroom environment.  If you’re religious your children can socialize with other children at church.  My children all worked in children’s ministry when we weren’t traveling.  They got to a certain age and they preferred working at church to being in class with children their age.  While we’re still in this “pandemic” it might be more challenging to socialize but once this has passed the opportunities to socialize are limited only by your imagination.  While we’re in pandemic mode, you can meet others online.  There are lots of companies that typically charge for their classes offering free online classes.  Last week my kids did a summer camp through Zoom with other kids online.  With Zoom, Hangouts and other free options, you can find plenty of ways to socialize while still social distancing.  And learning to use a computer and operate video chats is a job skill.  So if you were worried that your children learning at home would be depriving them of some valuable social skills, you need not worry.  Just remember your choice for socialization might not be the same as mine and that’s ok.  Just provide opportunities.  The more opportunities you provide, the more well rounded adult you will produce.  And isn’t that our ultimate goal?

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