I recently sent out a homeschool survey and was blown away by the results. You guys were amazing in answering the questions honestly, without holding anything back. The answers were from real Mom’s who are out there every day, doing the best they can and it was mind-blowing.
It was so good in fact, that I thought I would share some of what I received. Confidentially, of course.
Homeschooling Is Not Just For Large Families
The first piece of information that really shocked me was the number of families homeschooling with just one or two kids. Now I will be honest here, I truly thought that most homeschool families were larger in size. As a result, I really expected to see families with three, four, or even more children. But out of those who responded a whopping 29% of families had only one child at home! Families homeschooling just one or two children made up 67% of all responses!
In fact, only one-third of the families who participated were made up of larger families.
This tells me that homeschooling is changing. As it becomes a more accepted and is viewed as a truly legitimate form of education more and more families are joining in. Me, I see this as a good thing. I also see this as a possibility that there are more options for homeschoolers out there in the form of co-ops, extracurricular activities, and opportunities.
Public or Private School First?
I’ll admit, this may have been a slanted question. As a homeschooler who formerly sent her children to public school, I truly wanted to know how many others had been there before. How many other homeschoolers had to make the drastic change from more traditional education methods to homeschool.
I knew that I wasn’t the only one. As a member of several online groups for homeschoolers and an avid reader of homeschool blogs, I knew that there were others who made the change after starting out with either public or private school.
To me, these numbers show that homeschoolers have been in the school system. In fact, over half of the responders started out not homeschooling. Somewhere along the line, though, their choice changed. Whether it was because of a teacher, a teaching method, or a school district – it doesn’t matter. What does matter, is we can say we have been there – not just years ago as a student ourselves – but we were there with children in the system and decided that the system didn’t work for us and our families.
Year-Round Homeschooling Is A Big Deal
Like a really big deal.
When the kids and I first started this journey we semi-followed the schedule of the local public school. We skipped some days off like Columbus Day and teacher in-service day, so we ended our year a little earlier, but pretty much followed them.
Then we got the novel idea to do our own thing. We started our school year in mid-August, planned our own days off, took a longer Christmas break, and ended before Memorial Day. And it was glorious!
Starting mid-August left us hiding inside during the heat and humidity of the summer. Ending in May left us the best part of the year for outside activities. Planning our own days off let us work when we wanted and break when we needed.
And as much as I see the benefit of year-round homeschooling, however, we have never brought ourselves to try it. I’ve read about it. I see that it could give us a more relaxed school year or allow us to have a 4-day week. But we all agree that we enjoy the summers off. We like taking the time away from the books and the learning and the lesson plans. It’s also the time I do a lot of reflecting on the year and looking back.
So I wasn’t really surprised to see that 52% of people who responded stated they homeschooled year round. I am assuming it’s because of the benefits. The random days off or a 6-weeks on/1-week off schedule. Taking a longer break in December. And just doing their own thing.
Which as we know is a huge benefit to homeschooling.
And there were some of you who are doing your own thing. While 36% of people did say no to a year-round school year, the remaining 12% explained that they literally ran a custom schedule. Somewhere taking all of December and January off. Others were taking all of July off.
For me, I read this as homeschoolers making homeschooling work. Doing what they need to do to balance not just the responsibility of homeschooling but other tasks they may have. Ensuring that the kids’ lessons are taught and the parent’s responsibilities are met.
The Biggest Struggles
It’s no secret that homeschooling your children is challenging. Balancing education, state requirements, and a home is a lot. Add that that jobs, volunteer commitments, and family obligations and you have a quick recipe for a very overwhelmed homeschooler.
So when I asked the participants to tell me their biggest struggles I expected to be able to resonate with them. To know exactly where they were coming from.
Many of them said they struggled with time management. The ability to just get it all done. And I have to say, I get it! While we may not need to work with our kids for the six or more hours public school kids are learning, we do still spend hours a day working on school in some fashion. There’s research and planning, instruction, and grading. Then there’s the other commitments and responsibilities you have.
I have no glorious ideas for time management because for me that is my biggest struggle as well. What I can say here is simply to utilize your time. Set your priorities. And be sure you are not expecting too much from your time.
Another big struggle was the fear of failure. The fear that what a family is doing is simply not enough or that the curriculum choices may not be sufficient.
This is a legitimate fear. Taking responsibility for your child’s education is a terrifying thing. Being the one who chooses the courses, the materials, and the items covered is a lot of pressure.
One of the best things that helped me with this was simply calming down, and realizing I didn’t have to teach them everything. Rather, I need to cover the basics. Teach them about math and history and science and grammar – but more importantly, teach them to learn for themselves. To know where to find an answer for their question.
Also, I had to learn to let go. Letting go of this idea that I was somehow competing with and therefore needing to keeping up with the public school system. This doesn’t mean that we approach school casually or that we don’t look to achieve good things academically. What it does mean, is that if we don’t cover the Roman Empire at the same time as the public school system does that we fret over it because I know we will eventually cover it.
What This Means For You
If you are currently wondering what all of this means for you let me say this: it means you are not alone. You are a homeschooler and there are thousands of other families out there just like you. There are thousands of other parents who are right now struggling with the same thing as you, celebrating successes with you, and feeling just as you do. Families who may or may not have experience with the local school districts. Families who have more or even fewer children then you do. And families who struggle on some days and enjoy breakthroughs and successes on others.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the task, to feel as if you are the only one with whatever situation you may be in. But odds are, there is someone just like you struggling in just the same. What we have to do is change the tide and allow homeschoolers to admit struggles, admit failures, and simply admit that some days it’s more than we can handle without the fear that we are going to be told to simply enroll our children in a public school.
My hope is that you simply remember to look for the hope in the chaos that can be homeschooling. The balancing act of your life. And that you never stop trying to teach your children and learning how to better homeschool.
Want to participate in the homeschoolers survey? I am still accepting responses! Simply click here.