Homeschool Rewind


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Most of our homeschooling years are in the rearview mirror now.  With two graduates and a high school junior, I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what I would do with a homeschool rewind.

A few years ago, I shared some homeschool do-over thoughts, but now I can add a different perspective to it – the input of my grown homeschoolers.

They were a little hesitant to help me with this post. They were afraid they’d hurt my feelings because they all agreed that, overall, their homeschool experience was a positive one. However, once I convinced them that I could take it, they opened up with some insightful feedback.

Homeschool Rewind

What My Homeschooled Kids Wish We’d Done Differently

It’s interesting to note that some of the changes they identified, the kids openly admitted they would not have liked at the time. So, there are a few “for your own good” suggestions.

Also thought-provoking was Josh’s comment that everyone he talked to who went to public school says they wish they could have tried homeschooling. And, all the homeschoolers said they wish they could have tried public school.

It’s that whole grass-is-always-greener thing. I don’t regret homeschooling my kids even if there are things they and I wish that we had done differently. Overall, I am convinced that it was the best choice for them, and I know there would be “I wish I had” no matter where they went to school.

More Diverse Social Experiences

Brianna and Josh both said they would have appreciated more diverse social experiences. I honestly thought that I provided plenty of social opportunities, particularly in the early years. However, both said that although they had friends, they tended to hang out with the same group of kids. They didn’t gain experience interacting with a diverse group of people.

As adults, they feel uncomfortable talking to new people in group settings and making small talk. Growing up, Josh was content to hang out with his close circle of friends and didn’t take advantage of some of the available social opportunities. He wishes that I had insisted that he go to more of the social outings, but admits he would not have appreciated my efforts at the time.

The funny thing is, although this was one of the problem areas that Brianna identified, she is the one of my three kids who’s had the most diverse group of friends as an older teen and young adult. Race, religion (or lack thereof), political views, sexual orientation – nothing fazes her. And, it shouldn’t, but it’s kind of funny to me that as one of those “sheltered” homeschool kids, it doesn’t. At all.

And, I love that Josh is tackling his shyness head-on by reading several books on improving his social skills.

I’m not sure how I would have provided more diverse social opportunities for the kids, but it’s something to ponder. And, something you may want to consider if you’re still in the early years of homeschooling.

Deadlines and Consequences

Seriously, y’all. I was supposed to force them to go on social outings and give them consequences for missed deadlines? They would have called me Ogre Mom.

Joking aside, I admit that this is one area in which I struggle. There were times when I had kids working late to finish an assignment to avoid losing the opportunity to spend a Friday night with friends, but there should have been more of those times.

Or, better yet, I should have been more diligent about helping them set a reasonable schedule for finishing an assignment and following up before cram time.

Not to fear. Megan has two more years. I think I can correct this one. {grin}

There are some great tips for teaching teens to meet deadlines on the WriteShop blog.

WriteShop

Consistent Curriculum

Josh and Megan observed that our curriculum felt like it was “all over the place” quite a bit. Josh said that many times it felt like punishment when they had to sit down and do school, but the topics got more interesting toward the end.

He didn’t attribute that to our move toward a much more interest-led approach the last couple of years, though. He noted that the switch was both good and bad. While he liked having more input, he needed structure for the times when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to explore.

His comments made me realize two things. One, I made the right choice in following a relaxed, interest-led style versus a radical unschoolers path. And, two, I wish that I had begun involving the kids in curriculum-shopping much sooner. I would like to have had them involved as early as elementary school.

This is another area where I’m not sure what I would have done differently. Finding the right curriculum can be such a trial-and-error experience. We did have mid-year curriculum changes a couple of times. Those proved to be good changes, but I wish we could have found our favorite homeschool curriculum options early on, such as Trail Guide to Learning and All About Spelling.

All About Spelling

A homeschool rewind would, without a shadow of a doubt, include the Classic Starts books in our studies from the time the kids were in early elementary school. We discovered them when the kids had just about outgrown them. They are wonderful books! Confessions of a Homeschooler has literature-based unit studies for many of them.

Dedicated School Space

I’m not going to lie. This one kind of surprised me, but I do understand the reasoning behind it. You may have heard me mention before that I’m always more productive when I go to Chick-fil-A or Panera Bread to work. That’s because I know that’s what I’m there for and it gives me a sense of purpose.

A couple of the kids said they wish we’d had a dedicated school space for that purpose. Josh said he thought he would have focused better in a place that was only for school and away from distractions like ringing phones and barking dogs.

Good intentions don't count, y'all. Thankfully, learning never stops! Click to Tweet

More Focus on Life Skills

Good intentions don’t count, y’all. Brianna, the only kid who is out on her own right now, says she wishes I’d taught more life skills. Specifically, she’d like to have learned more cooking skills, how to balance a checkbook, and how to budget money. We did some cooking and some money management but not enough specifics for her to feel as confident as she’d like.

In my defense, I had good intentions on teaching her how to balance her checkbook, but people don’t seem to do that as much as they used to with bank apps that let them keep closer tabs on their money. However, I have noted the feedback and will work to make sure her younger siblings are more prepared.

Thankfully, learning never stops!

Homeschool Rewind

What We Got Right

As I said, homeschooling has been a primarily positive experience for all of us. Still, I asked the kids for some specifics on a few things they thought we got right. I was curious about what, precisely, stood out to them.

Closer relationships

The kids attributed our close family relationships to homeschooling. While homeschooling isn’t the cure-all for teen angst and family problems, it does provide the time necessary to foster close relationships. I am so thankful for that!

Freedom

All the kids appreciated the freedom that homeschooling afforded them. There are cons to that freedom, such as Josh feeling that he would have benefitted from more structure in some areas. But overall it’s a huge plus.

The kids loved being able to schedule their time in a way that best suited them and study the topics that interested them. For example, Megan took astronomy as one of her high school science courses rather than a more traditional course. Josh learned computer coding and dove into music.

Experience Astronomy

As teens, they enjoyed the freedom of more flexible part-time job hours since they didn’t have to be in a classroom during the day. Our rule was always as long as schoolwork took priority, they could do it around their work schedules.

Fun Learning Opportunities

Our homeschool also got kudos from the kids for our Around the World Days and spring fairs and participating in Flat Travelers. I enjoyed all of those things, too. Some of those events were a lot of work, but so worth it.

Don’t be afraid to dive in and organize events with your homeschool group. It’s been my experience that homeschoolers are a pretty laid-back group of people. Everything doesn’t have to go perfectly to have a blast and learn a ton.

Those are my kids’ thoughts on a homeschool rewind. I’ll be sharing mine soon.

If you could have a homeschool rewind, what would you do differently?

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16 Comments

    1. It is kind of a scary question to ask. I told them to imagine that they had a younger sibling that I was just about to start homeschooling and tell me what they would suggest I change for him/her.

  1. I went to a huge public school and was always in performing arts (acting, music) and I still hate groups of people and trying to talk to new people. It’s just a personality trait, in my case. I’m sure if I had been homeschooled, I may have attributed it to that. In public school, you’re constantly expected to give presentations and work with partners because the world is run by extroverts. It didn’t improve my social skills, unfortunately. 😂😂

    1. Yes, Josh said that he is naturally more reserved, so forcing him to go to more social outings probably would just have resulted in a kid giving me a different kind of feedback for this post: “I wish you hadn’t forced me to go to all those homeschool social events. I hated them and they didn’t help.” LOL

  2. The more social opportunity thing really irks me, my kids would LOVE to have more opportunities like this, but cannot find others who are interested. We try youth group…..most of the kids are public schooled….have their faces in their phones and won’t talk to anyone. It’s hard even to find other homeschoolers that don’t do this also!
    My kids went to a camp, tried to make friends. When they told these new people they didn’t have phones, no one would even give them the time of day. They ONLY want to text! Most of the people who homeschooled when my kids were younger, have put their high schoolers in public school. I’m at a total loss how to help them navigate this mess. I myself grew up with many people, starting from kindergarten through high school, and never really had a good friend. I knew everyone, but had no friends! As an adult, I find this is just a fact of life. I don’t understand people, and why it’s so difficult!

    1. I agree. If I had to move to a new place and make new friends, I’d probably just become a hermit. 🙂

    2. I am having the exact same problem! For the same reason too. It would be nice if we lived near each other. Our kids could hang out, phone free, and socialize.

  3. I think a lot of these comments, particularly about the life skills, come from unreasonable expectations. Twenty-year-olds are not supposed to be fully-formed adults. Although I give off the air of being an adult and knowing everything, there are still things I’m making up as I go along now, so imagine how much I didn’t know what I was doing 30 years ago when I was first “adulting”!

    My youngest son, who went to public high school, had more friends and a more diverse group of friends than my middle son who homeschooled most of high school. The thing is, he went to public high school *because* he is more outgoing and wanted a large group of friends. And once he had his group in place, it stayed the same throughout the four years. That’s normal. Some of us hate small talk and crowds–again, normal.

    It’s also normal not to know how to cook or be an expert at household finance when you’re first setting up house. Your daughter has plenty of time to learn many different ways to cook, and how to work a banking app and all those other things it takes to live on your own.

    I think it’s unfair for them to blame their struggles as young adults on you as a homeschooler. We homeschool mamas put too much pressure on ourselves to do everything and prepare the kids for everything. They’re already getting as much or more in terms of diverse social opportunities, personalized learning, and life skills than any traditionally-schooled student. Are they perfect, competent adults? Of course not. None of us are. Eventually they’ll figure that out, too.

    1. They aren’t blaming their struggles on me. I asked them for their feedback and, after giving it a great deal of thought, this is what they said. I actually found it very reassuring that the only things they identified that they wish we’d done differently are things that they can still learn/do on their own and things that may have been true wherever they went to school. Everybody knows how to read, write, and function in society, so I think we’re good.

      1. My husband jokes that when we got married all I could cook was five meals, 3/5 involved ground beef. I have learned more and I hope my kids will too. I was in public school all the way through and I hope one of the perks of homeschooling is time to teach my kids to cook. I think that’s the best part of homeschooling, time.
        I’m sure your kids have excellent animal care skills! Your pet posts are some of my favorite. Thank you for your post!

        1. Oh, that cracked me up! No joke, they can probably take care of animals better than they can take care of themselves. :))

  4. I once asked my older kids a similar question. One of them felt they should have done tests and exams at home (three of my kids did none, one took the SAT) to be better prepared for university.The funny thing is so far they’ve all been straight A students and have topped several of their courses. Plus they admit to not feeling less nervous about exams in their final year than I their first year. I did consider adding tests to the schedule for the younger kids but felt they’d just feel fake since they’d serve no purpose.

    1. Wow! Straight A’s is awesome. It sounds like they were pretty stinkin’ prepared to me. 🙂

  5. I have two homeschool graduates as well. My homeschooled son worked as a line chef in a local organic-based cafe for three years during high school. Now that he’s in college, what does he usually make? Ramen. Just because they HAVE the skills doesn’t mean they use them.

    Both kids CAN do laundry in their sleep, though.

  6. To Crystal. I’m in a similar situation. After we retired we obtained permanent custody of our oldest grandson due to abuse. I began homeschooling because of his PTSD, ADHD and dysgraphia. We tried public schools but being punished for medical conditions is unacceptable. The problem is that although we have tried a couple of co-ops no one was friendly outside the classes. They either went to same church and cliques or didn’t know what to do with grandparents, who in many cases are wiser and had successful careers before. We don’t fit. Play dates are few and far between even though we constantly are searching. People our age have raised their kids and although nice, no invites. I’m so lonely I get depressed. But his education is most important. Just wish we didn’t have to pick only one option which results in no friends.

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