I’ve spent more than half of my life preparing for my child’s homeschool journey. The time has finally (almost) come to use this plan; Baby Voit is due in June 2022! While it is not necessary to spend quite as much time as I did preparing and planning for this, the key to successful homeschooling is in just that – planning ahead.
All too often, I meet parents who hastily pulled their children out of school to homeschool without a plan, and years later, they are still in the planning stages while their child mulls about without any schooling. They’re not unschooling or homeschooling. They’re just not schooling. Of course, there are some parents who manage to throw together a fantastic education plan on the fly; however, if you are considering homeschooling, please do not plan on this working out. It rarely does. If you already pulled your child out of school, and you are still without a plan, it’s never too late to make one. Now is better than never.
I went to extreme lengths to put together a homeschool plan for my child – who is not yet born. I’ve spent most of my life building an education facility for my child. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want my child to attend a traditional school with a Monday through Friday schedule, and I really didn’t see a lot of *better* options out there. At least, not ones that fit into my goals for my child. And yet, I wanted my child to have the opportunity to learn in a classroom with other children at least some of the time.
Homeschooling your child does not – and should not – mean that you, the parent, are delivering 100% of your child’s education at home without assistance from other programs, activities, educators, and resources. This can – and will – put undue stress on you and your child. You do not need to go back and re-learn the entire K-12 curriculum. You do not need to sit at the kitchen table for a 6-hour school day with regularly scheduled class periods. You do not need to recreate the school environment at home. Isn’t that what you’re trying to leave behind? Isn’t that what led you to homeschooling in the first place? Instead, homeschooling means facilitating your child’s education in a way that focuses on your values and your child’s needs by whatever way works best for you and your child. The percentage of your child’s education that YOU, the parent, teach the child is up to only you. Enrolling your child in classes and other activities, joining homeschooling co-ops, and collaborating with your community will bolster their education.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves. Even the best laid plans don’t always work out the way that we had hoped. I expect that at least some of my plan will not work out the way I hope it will, and that’s okay. Homeschooling requires flexibility. While flexibility is a requirement, it is also a privilege. It allows for you to take advantage of opportunities you may have never even dreamed of before. And while plans may change over time, that does not render them useless. Even if 90% of your plan fails, you still have something to fall back on while you go back to the drawing board, meaning that your child can keep moving forward while you re-think the plan.
Putting together a homeschool plan means thinking about your values and long-term goals for your child. What do you want your child to graduate knowing? What do you want them to be able to do? What values do you hope to instill in them by the time they leave the nest? I believe that our goal as parents is to set our children up to be successful and happy adults. What does success look like to you? What does happiness look like to you?
It may come as a surprise to some, but my number one priority in homeschooling my child is not the academics. To me, my child’s homeschool education encompasses their entire life. The traditional school environment separates out academics. Though many schools today work on a whole-child approach, offer an array of electives, and teach things like mindfulness, raising a child takes more than 6-hours per day, and – to me, every aspect of raising a child is part of their education as a whole. Every moment is a learning opportunity – whether that be to gain a more traditional “school-house” skill like writing or arithmetic – or the ability to make friends – or the ability to simply sit back and relax. Freed from the burden of 9-3 school days and 9-5 jobs, the world is filled with endless possibilities to help raise a well-rounded and happy child.
The choices that I make as a parent will affect my child in the most significant way. Modeling the behaviors and values that I want to instill in my child are key. I want my child to have a love for reading, an eco-conscious attitude, a respect for the environment and all things living, an appreciation for different cultures, exposure to the arts, and a strong academic background. I want my child to be independent and to be empowered to make their own decisions and to conquer new challenges. I want my child to not only have strong math, reading, and writing skills but to be able to use these skills and apply them throughout daily life. I want my child to not only study history but to learn from history. I want my child to not only study science but to experience science in action. Most importantly, I want my child to be happy and healthy.
Follow me in this blog series as I explore my own homeschooling plan from birth to adulthood, and later, as I implement this plan and encounter all of the bumps in the road that are bound to happen.