Homeschool for a Second Year or Go Back to School?
I started homeschooling back when the word and idea were not widely known. Now that 10 percent of the U.S. population is homeschooling, I’m asked more and more by friends whether they should homeschool a second year or return to traditional schooling.
A survey from the U.S. Census bureau tells a fascinating story about the rise of homeschooling in our nation during the past year. The rates of families homeschooling in the U.S. more than doubled in a single term! Today, it is estimated that as many as 5 million children are being homeschooled in the U.S. But as the page on that narrative is turning, we are on the edge of our seats to find out what happens next. Particularly when we are the main characters of that story and the plot is up to us.
There is certainly no “right” decision when it comes to whether to continue homeschooling a second year. But there are considerations that can be weighed and information that can make us feel more confident, whether we give homeschooling an additional go or choose to return to the classroom in the fall. Let’s explore those together and see where this story ends up.
Whether you were swayed into homeschooling due to the pandemic or made the decision for a different reason, the end of the first year is an important reflection point. What went better than expected? What was the most surprising aspect about homeschooling? What would you do differently if you had the year to do over again? Did you have a hard time staying engaged?
After you’ve evaluated your own feelings about the year, it’s time for a family meeting. Even if you think you know where your child stands on the homeschool front, a dedicated time to review the year together can reveal some surprising insights. The daughter who has complained about math all year may tell you that it was much better than the math she did in school last year. The son who has been the social butterfly since kindergarten may express that he feels he learns much better without the distractions of school. Ask plenty of open-ended questions and listen intently to your child’s true feelings.
This is also a great time to evaluate the effectiveness of the homeschool curriculum you’ve been using. Does the program (or mix of programs) you’ve been using match your student’s preferred learning style? Did it keep them interested and motivated? Was the cost too burdensome for your budget? Was it flexible enough to allow for homeschool field trips and extracurricular activities?
Taking a long, hard look at your learning method and materials can give you critical insights that will steer where this story goes next.
Getting the Full Picture
When I began homeschooling, it was hardly planned. There were medical circumstances that turned my family–almost overnight–into accidental homeschoolers. If you came to homeschooling during the pandemic, it’s likely that you didn’t expect to find yourself in charge of your child’s education either. Your journey into homeschooling may have been a reaction to a less-than-ideal educational situation brought on by COVID-19.
If so, and if that situation is now resolved, then your decision to go back to the classroom next year may be straightforward. But life is hardly ever that simple, is it? It’s very possible that you were already dealing with any number of issues such as:
- A child with special learning needs that weren’t being met by the school system.
- A school curriculum that doesn’t match up with your personal worldview.
- A gifted student who isn’t being challenged enough.
- Safety issues like bullying, school violence, or drug use in your child’s school.
- Excessive focus on standardized testing.
- Lack of services, curriculum, or extracurriculars that would enrich your child’s learning.
If any of these sound familiar, then your decision becomes a little more difficult, doesn’t it? And then there is an additional complication. For many of us, the first year of homeschool can be surprisingly…well, successful. Kids who have constant school anxiety were able to relax and learn at their own pace. Those who stress out about tests rediscovered learning for learning’s sake. The whole family was able to bond in a way that time never allowed for before. Concepts and subjects that had caused frustration and confusion ironed themselves out with one-on-one attention from mothers, fathers, grandmothers and other loved ones who were totally committed to their child’s success.
When the benefits of homeschooling sink in, the plot thickens! Along with thousands and thousands of other families, you may find yourself moving from accidental homeschooler to deliberate homeschooler. Welcome! You are in great company, and Time4Learning is ready to partner with you as your homeschooling story continues.
Once a Homeschooler, Always a Homeschooler
For those of you who, despite the perks of homeschooling, recognize that this year was a one-off, your home education story is coming to its final chapter. Work, commitments, or kids who miss the socialization and routine of the classroom may lead to the decision that this past year was a fun, educational experiment. There are facets of homeschooling, though, that will stay with you forever. You now recognize that learning happens everywhere and all the time.
That means that you can integrate the benefits of homeschooling into your afterschool enrichment. Time4Learning makes that effortless for PreK-12 with:
- An online, month-to-month subscription that you can start, stop, and pause at any time.
- A fun approach to learning that uses humor, animated lessons, and instructional videos to keep kids engaged and motivated.
- A detailed lesson search tool to locate specific topics that your student needs additional help with.
- Motivational tools that keep students eager to build knowledge.
- Standards-based lessons that ensure concepts are introduced, practiced, reinforced, and assessed.
- A completely automated system that both teaches and tracks your child’s progress.
As someone who has watched homeschooling ebb, flow, and evolve through the years, I know that whatever your final decision about homeschooling for a second year is, you will be enriched by the experience you’ve had. And I know that Time4Learning is excited and eager to help you make this the most successful educational story possible!