In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of starting your kindergarten year later rather than earlier and also how using simple, gentle lessons for your five- to – six-year-old child is a wonderful way to ease them into more formal education. This was a way to introduce part of the “why” of homeschooling during the kindergarten year in a more general sense, but the elephant in the room remains. Not only are some parents just entering the stage of having school-aged children this fall, but they’re also having to navigate these intimidating waters in light of COVID-19.
These are very strange times in so many ways, but since the CDC guidelines for re-opening schools came out and districts have started making announcements about how they’ll be implementing those guidelines, I think the reality of our present situation and the uncertainty of how long this is going to go on has become acute for many parents. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve received messages and emails and seen posts in several places from parents who, rightfully so, are very concerned about what school (and in many cases, preschool) is going to look like for their children this fall. The vision they had of dropping their child off for that very first day of school with fresh boxes of crayons and a new backpack now include face masks and hand sanitizer or wet wipes in abundance. Three- to six-foot spacing, face masks for all kids over the age of two, lunch in classrooms, no physical contact, and alternating schedules are a few of the things being considered in our local public school district in less than a month’s time. I honestly can’t imagine trying to process this while also planning to enroll your child in kindergarten, their first “real” school experience. I think it’s understandable that many parents, some of whom never even entertained homeschooling as a possibility in the past, are now looking at how viable an option it might be for their family.
I can imagine also how nerve-wracking this can be, especially when you’ve been (or assumed you would be) using public education and never thought of homeschooling. And while I am (obviously) very in favor of homeschooling and know full-well the benefits of choosing this path, I also understand that this is not an easy decision.
So if you’re seriously considering the homeschooling route but still wonder how you can possibly teach your child, the first thing I want to say is this…
You can do this.
In reality, you have been your child’s teacher since the day they were born. Maybe not in the traditional sense of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in the larger sense of how to be. How to observe the world around them. How to treat others. What things to take delight in. What things to avoid that might harm them.
You of all people on this planet know your child best and that means understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what things fascinate them and hold their attention. You know how they respond to how other people treat them. And you know best when they show signs that they feel overwhelmed and need to take things slowly.
Kindergarten in particular is a perfect year for homeschooling. You can use this time when your child is still very young to see how you both can thrive through educating at home. Because the kindergarten year doesn’t have to be complicated and really shouldn’t include the academic rigor that the upper grades will offer, you have the flexibility of going at their (and your!) own pace. This means that you can take your time and not feel pressured to meet the sometimes unreasonable standards established in our public education system. You can educate your children in the way that best meets their needs, rather than conforming to a system that sets guidelines across the board and often does not take each unique child’s abilities and personalities into consideration.
You also don’t have to enter into this new path alone. Even prior to COVID-19, the homeschooling community offered wonderful support systems for those of us who chose to educate at home. However, since the arrival of the virus here in the United States, more and more groups catering to the needs of parents transitioning from public school to homeschool have popped up and the already established groups have been very welcoming.
Facebook is a great place to find families in your area who are homeschooling and may be able to suggest resources and services to help you make this transition. I am personally in several groups including a homeschool support group for all of Colorado, another one specific to those families using Charlotte Mason’s methods in Colorado, and my little town homeschool group as well. These sources have brought to my attention many services and programs specifically for homeschoolers that I never would’ve known about otherwise. They are also very encouraging. In many of them, I am seeing an increase in membership because so many families are thinking about homeschooling this fall. Usually, the first post from these new members is a statement that they’re very nervous and not sure how this is going to go. And these posts are always met with encouragement, suggestions (often for curricula or services that might benefit that family specifically), and offers to help.
For those who have purchased my kindergarten curriculum, I also have a private Facebook group where I answer questions as many of the parents who have purchased the curriculum are new to homeschooling or Charlotte Mason in general. It’s also a place where parents can network, share ideas about how they’re implementing the curriculum, and I’ve even seen a few members find other members who are in their area which has allowed them to plan playdates.
I know these are uncertain times and the future looks very hazy and not particularly encouraging, but if you are considering homeschooling your child, please know that you are capable, you are qualified, and YES, you can do it!