Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Homeschooling difficulties: Let me hear your experiences

Dear readers, I'd love some feedback. I'm writing an article for Backwoods Home Magazine on the subject of homeschooling difficulties. Originally I pitched just two notions (both parents working, and single parents), but then my editor came back with many more ideas. She suggested, "Both parents working, homesteading schedules, single parent, self-doubt, homeschooling kids with long age gaps, sibling conflicts, organizing curriculum, lack of motivation (on the kid part or parent part), etc. I’m sure there are a lot more."

So fill me in on what kinds of challenges you (or someone you know) has experienced while homeschooling – and, more important, how you/they overcame these difficulties.

Thank you!

26 comments:

  1. I don't have suggestions for you, but would recommend you contact the The Prudent Homemaker on her blog, she has been homeschooling for many years, she has 9 children.

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  2. How about home schooling for the wrong reasons? I taught GED. One woman was very motivated, she said, to get her GED. After six months of trying to teach a disruptive student in her 30s who tried to relive her disruptive behavior and flirting with all the guys in my class, I was sure she would never settle down and get serious.

    Finally, she said she just had to get her GED, was desperate. She went on to say the only way she could homeschool her children, four, was to have a GED. She said she was tired of having to get up early to get her kids off to school. I felt so sorry for her children since the mother had atrocious grammar and could not do 7th grade math. Her organization skills were woefully lacking.

    Then, she moved. About 25 years later, I saw her in a store. She said she got her GED. And, she homeschooled her children. I really felt she was lying.

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    1. Perhaps that mother was like Dr. Ben Carson's mom, who couldn't read, and, being a product of public schools, wanted something better for her children. It's truly amazing what mother love can accomplish.

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    2. I had ample proof she could read. She did not want to get up in the morning to get children fed and dressed for school. She would not have been in GED classes if she could not read.

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  3. Homeschooling special needs kids

    Homeschooling in areas that do not lend themselves to fulfilling any PE requirements

    Homeschooling with curricula requirements that teach something very much against what your faith is

    Homeschooling in jurisdictions very much opposed to doing so

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  4. My kids are in their 40s, so our homeschooling stint was many many moons ago. Our schoolboard told us we could not homeschool. They would not give us permission because they disagreed with homeschooling even though our state said it was perfectly legal and the school would even have to provide us with curriculum. (We bought our own.) The schoolboard gave us so much grief but my friend and I persevered. We had to contact the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund for help before the schoolboard finally agreed to let us homeschool.

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  5. We homeschooled before the advent of the internet. I struggled once the oldest got to high school, as we had five ranging from grades 9 down to K. I wish I had know about unit studies and holistic approaches where I could have taught everyone the same thing just at different levels. There are many wonderful resources out there and if any new to homeschooling families were to ask me I could direct them to these resources. One of the best things we did was join both HSLDA, and a local homeschooling group. The support from both was so helpful. Later I taught choral singing at a co-op which was lots of fun for me and our children. Other parents taught art, math, science, etc. and the children rotated through the classes. Still later a group of parents hired a college science education major to come teach our children one afternoon a week. That was great! It can be difficult to teach group subjects like choral singing, orchestra or band, drama, or physical education. But banding together with others can get the job done.

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    1. I agree. Homeschool co-ops are becoming much more common and alleviate a lot of stress and problems for parents and children alike. There was some lady on TV recently talking about something else, but her occupation was managing a home school co-operative for 300 children. I'll bet with that many parents hiring her to manage the thing she was probably very well qualified. I've also known some very mature focused young people who successfully homeschooled themselves using the internet. There are so many teaching videos now and online help if needed. Another thing is, with a large enough group renting or contracting time with gyms and other facilities is quite feasible. I think that success with anything in life requires thinking outside the box.

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  6. I 'after-schooled" my Grandaughter for 6 yrs. She was 4 when she and her Dad moved in with me. She was a wild child. I was a former teacher, who meant it when I said, if I were starting as young mother with small children, I would HOMESCHOOL. Meanwhile, I suddenly became a Grandma with a small child. Her father thought homeschooling was radical and not an option. I researched all the supports and info on Homeschooling in my area, went to a few meetings. Connections were very very good, helpful. Various ways of Homeschooling, different curriculum and styles to choose from , and a number of Homeschool get togethers for field trips and play. Fortunately, my 4 yr old, loved to 'play school' every day. Meanwhile, I enhanced her public school experience, with tons of one-one learning, expanding, (in I think 3rd grade she was supposed to learn about the States and Capitals ) I already had on hand (from a thrift store) a game that involved 'driving your car across the USA...when they did a walk to spy Butterflies at school, she and I went to the local Butterfly House, and made a paper spinner that showed the evolution, from caterpillar to Butterfly, all that sort of thing and more, as an "After School, Home Schooler" Actually these are the kinds of things I did with my own children as they grew up in Public School. Still, I could not sell her Dad on 100% homeschool, but by 5th grade he WAS convinced, public school classes were much too crowded, and the secular influence of children growing up on TV and video games was not a great environment. He transferred her to a small Christian School in our town. She had to test and was much above the average public school grade for her age. She thrived in the school, never more that 8 or so students, she was always a 'teacher's helper', and is Graduating High School this year, all straight A's, and College Credits. 16 Graduates total. No longer a 'wild child', she thrived on one-one learning , following her own interests to the max, small groups and sports. I also had her in Horseback riding lessons from 8 yrs old, to 13. She is a lovely, composed, happy young woman. Learning is not 8-3, sitting at a table, or even having your head in a book...experience is learning, physically exploring, adventure and challenge, even play that involves others and getting along. So that's my experience as an "After School Home Schooling Grandma' I'm sure there are many other Granny's out there, just like me!

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  7. Homeschooling kids with dyscalculia and dysgraphia was/is our biggest challange.

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    1. Adding on to expand, we had our son tested through our school district for learning differences. They confirmed he did indeed have areas of concern, however, they refused to give us a name for what he was struggling with and refused any type of advice or assistance unless we wanted to enroll him. He was 16 at this point. We sent his test results to HSLDA where they gave us a name for his diagnosis as well as tips, tools, and suggestions, for continuing to homeschool him. He will never be strong in math so we did what we could there and then concentrated his education on subjects he was good at and enjoyed that could build a career on.

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  8. Not exactly Home Schooling, but our 17 yr old Granddaughter came to live with us two years ago. Both of us own/operate our own businesses, so we went the on line approach to avoid the mask mandate. Granddaughter spends two hours a day attending school online. She is passing with all A's and also working two jobs. Best decision we ever made was getting her out of attending in-class schooling. It is still hard for us to believe that in two hours of focused time replaces six to eight hours of indoctrination. She also is able to participate in school sports/activities of her choice.

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    1. Public schools waste a huge amount of time in any given day. Before we started homeschooling, my spouse went to school with our child one day to find out why he was so bored and unengaged (back when parents still had access to the classroom). The kids spent 20 minutes waiting while the teacher made sure everyone had a pencil and were ready to start work. Then the teacher spent another half hour doing a work sheet that our child had done in 5 minutes. And so on.

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    2. I used to volunteer in my son's and later my grandson's elementary school and yes a lot of time is wasted. There is of course the recess in the morning, then lunch and then another recess all of which require waiting in line. Then there is the line up for going to art class, library, computer class each on a different day each waisting a ton of time waiting in line.
      One time my grandson, who loves research wrote his paper with tons of detail that took numerous pages. His teacher complained and reprimanded that it was too long and should have only been a short one page. It took my daughter, son in law and myself uniting and talking to the principal to get him transferred to another teacher. It has seemed to me while watching these kids that they are incredibly bored, act out in class, most are not ready for learning. the school system really drags it's feet on the teaching part. If I had it do do over again I would for sure go with homeschooling. My son is so insanely social that it would have been a task but I would have figured it out somehow.

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  9. I have no kids, my comments comes from observation of many others with kids. A perfect example is a close friend has 3 daughters. Public schools were available for them but failed them in numerous ways, with lack of challenge among other things. Homeschooled was their choice even though it cost them in the lack of one income. Oldest has now a high position in a major telecom company, another has a doctorate in Physical Therapy and the youngest embarking on a career as an emergency room nurse. All have turned out with higher IQ,s than their counterparts & peers. From all the stories I have read and heard about, the absolute best thing you could do for your kids future would be to Homeschool no matter the hardship. To subject them to the public indoctrination system run by marxists ideology is to relegate your kids to the dustbin of poverty as the present course is following. Not always, but more often than not. Those that succeed through the public indoctrination system would succeed no matter how they were schooled.

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  10. Our children have homeschooled from the beginning- our oldest recently graduated high school and we have more still at home with the youngest in elementary school. Our main response to challenges is to cut down to bare bones. For us, that is reading (including science and history topics, not just fiction), writing (with more of an emphasis on copy work than during less challenging times), 'rithmatic (which includes Math Blaster computer game style days) and religion (because we certainly need all the grace we can get :).

    What challenges? We're a military family so every 3 years or so we had a move. With moves we would try to plan our school breaks to line up with the move. It wasn't too bad for us. A friend had a late November move once- their summer break suddenly ended when they found out about the move in July and they worked through until it was time to pack up in November. Then they took off through December (unpacking and getting the new place organized) and picked up school again in January. It worked.

    Homeschooling during a deployment seems easier to me than having children in a brick and mortar school during a deployment, but adding in having a baby due during the deployment too was certainly a challenge. Simplifying in that case also included simplifying meals to a significant degree. Making big slow cooker batches of things that could be frozen and then reheated for dinners was my main plan. Luckily my children were in a phase where those types of meals were exactly what they liked. Bonus- I no longer had morning sickness by the time my husband had to leave (it was pretty bad with that child).

    Homeschooling on bedrest because of pregnancy complications was difficult. We did what schoolwork we could with my restrictions but mostly had an early summer break that year and then really dug back in once the baby was home.

    I have friends with longer term health issues and injuries and they seem to do a combination of simplifying, spreading out school into the whole year and sometimes even finding local resources and groups to assist. Local groups and resources vary a lot based on where you live though.

    Along those lines, another type of homeschooling challenge for me was resources. The military has a weight limit for moves so I couldn't have the book collection I wanted. Unfortunately, some areas have much better libraries than others so I also couldn't trust that the library wherever we were moving to would have what we wanted to borrow. My answer to that was to have a basic set of essential books and other resources that we moved and to work around for the rest. Sometimes that meant using online resources or ebooks more than I would have otherwise.

    I hope the ideas help you Patrice. I really enjoy reading your blog.

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  11. Oh boy... I homeschooled our two oldest through 3rd and 4th grade. I think the biggest challenge was the lack of support from my husband and his family. My husband understood what I was doing, but his parents never got on board with it, and their attitude the whole time seemed to be that the kids were doing nothing all day. After my FIL died, and my MIL moved closer to us, she would call and want to do stuff during the day, and seemed genuinely miffed that I would decline... as though I had nothing really going on.

    This, in turn, soured the kids on homeschooling. My oldest would scream at me about how she wanted to go to "real" school, how I didn't really make her do anything, etc. Her younger brother wasn't much better... With two, then three, who were younger, it became a nightmare, and I ended up in tears many, many times.

    We're in WI and thanks to the Walker administration, we found out that our kids are eligible to get vouchers for private schools. With Covid wiping out all of the kids' activities, it was horrible. Our public school district (Racine Unified) was one of the last outside of California to return to classroom learning, but most of the private schools had a pretty normal year for 2020-2021, including our kids, and we are glad that they went. This school year, they were joined by their younger brother, who was technically homeschooled for his 1st grade year, though a lot of "unschooling" went on.

    The ironic thing is that despite all the difficulties, the kids did very, very well coming into their grades and are near the top of their classes. Child #4 will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and she's picked up reading pretty much on her own already, so she'll be another one doing well academically.

    (As an aside, we put up a bird feeder in the backyard and we've been interested in identifying the birds that come - this is something that is new for me as well. In any case, we've noticed a couple of Goldfinches coming to the feeder, and yesterday morning one of them was there, and she (5 years old) pipes up that it's a female because it doesn't have the black "mask" over its eyes... I suppose just because I'm not "homeschooling", I'm still teaching them along the way.

    P.S. My husband definitely misses taking vacations at off-peak times of year now that the kids are in school! *L*

    -Katja (your former Sandpoint neighbor)

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  12. As a second postscript, I find it hilarious that my older two kids have both complained this year that school is boring and that they want to homeschool again... But that door is closed right now; situations have changed, and I am currently far too overwhelmed with other stuff to be able to do it again in the near future.

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  13. Another postscript - and don't even get me started on the chaos of trying to homeschool kids while taking care of a newborn - and recover from a very difficult pregnancy - while at the same time having nowhere to go with them (for some time, even the playgrounds were "closed" due to covid) and for them to try and stay quiet while my husband was suddenly working from home 5 days a week...

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  14. The difficulties we have encountered during homeschooling have stemmed from the fact that my child has had both attention and learning issues. In fact that is one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. The issues that have interfered include losing farm labor and my son having to stop school and assist with farming, older children having babies including a set of twins with one in the NICU and chaotic sports schedules. How did we overcome these things? My son's learning as had to be at a slower pace with lots of patience. When schedules are crazy nontraditional schedules were implemented. It has all made my son a kind, independent and understanding person. Also very grateful he has not had to deal with public school politics like some of his friends.

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  15. No direct experience but do know of one homeschool failure because the mother didn't enforce things. The mother college graduate, CC head coach, but just didn't oversee the work. The father was conducting criminal investigations for his 10 counties as a state bureau of investigation agent, including homeland security investigations so maybe was a bit too trusting. Didn't help that divorce and the mother abandoning the son at 13 occurred. He's 21 now, electrician's apprentice, but still needs to get his GED to clear up roadblocks.

    But you may find these of interest
    Here author Andrew Ferguson is commenting the quality of student he found at Hillsdale College, have of them homeschooled
    https://youtu.be/JF2eJSHKKd0?t=1365

    And here internet pioneer Paul Graham is writing about how schooling is all about getting good grades, not real learning. Something to consider when homeschooling as more effort can be applied to letting the student really learn.
    http://www.paulgraham.com/lesson.html

    And finally, a few years ago, I came across 'How to Study and Teaching How to Study' (1909) by F. M. McMurry, Professor of Elementary Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. I certainly wish I'd had it when I was in school only 60 years after it was published. But schools are loath to teach students how to study. The ideas aren't earth shattering, but why we expect kids to reinvent the wheel instead of teaching them directly is beyond me. It's a good discussion on the nature of schooling, learning and studying. A kid taught how to study would be an independent learner and have less need for directed instruction and thus avoid "school helplessness".

    "In spite of the fact that schools exist for the sake of education, there is many a school whose pupils show a peculiar "school helplessness"; that is, they are capable of less initiative in connection with their school tasks than they commonly exhibit in the accomplishment of other tasks. "

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  16. The hardest part of homeschooling was putting my youngest daughter in the local magnet school for two years (6th and 7th grade) because she absolutely refused to do her math for me. She was utterly miserable both years, but her father and I had told her if she wouldn't work for me, that was what would happen, so it did. After two years, she was caught up in math, but had learned 1) to utterly despise the public school "social studies" (she much preferred real History and Econ in homeschool - we read a lot of Thomas Sowell together), and 2) to prefer the company of much older adults to the majority of her age cohort. She asked to return to homeschooling, which we did, and she's graduating this year and planning to attend a diesel mechanics program in the fall.

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  17. Your column will be very timely and informational I'm sure. With the looming diesel shortage I'll bet a lot more kids in private schools wind up getting homeschooled. Everything is just getting too expensive.

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    1. Also, when I was a child many eons ago, the girls took home economics and the boys were taught farming, literally by farming a field behind the school. And woodworking was taught. In another school, basics of architecture was literally an accredited course for the school year
      There is a lot of math and science involved in these subjects.
      I think it's an excellent opportunity for homeschoolers to teach their children subjects essential to their own future survival. Something to do with all that time wasted in public school programs.

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  18. As a single (solo) homeschooling and FT working mother of 4 children, one thing that would have been extremely helpful is to have a few other families offer to help out by including my kids in their homeschooling time one day a week. Maybe help teach a subject. Also, since they had no father, grandpa or uncles involved in their lives it would have been such a blessing to have other fathers bring my daughters alongside their daughters in things like learning to change a tire or tune up a lawn mower, or how to throw a Frisbee or shoot a bow and arrow. We did have a family that included us in family dinners which was wonderful but some various life skills taught by several fathers would have been very much treasured!

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  19. My husband worked at part time at night (the school system and his parents failed him, so he worked night crew at a grocery store) and I was determined our ADHD son with math dyslexia would not suffer the same fate.
    I worked full time and our family needed the paycheck.
    For many years, my mom pitched in on the schooling (she’s a retired teacher so, yay!), but that didn’t last forever as she needed to help her own elderly mom.
    I stayed in a job (that I might have left) because they understood my son was my first priority and I am thankful for them. Sometimes he came to work with me, sometimes he worked from our home. I worked on lessons into the night and ended up with an autoimmune disease….I was predisposed based on family history and stress didn’t help.
    My son ended up with a great education, but a feeling of loss over the school experience. He went on to college and did well with the exception of some math, but was able to substitute other math courses due to his disability.
    I wouldn’t change it though.
    Not sure that helps, but it is our truth.

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