I love to tell people that we homeschool my son. Love it. Even with homeschooling becoming more commonplace, it always causes folks to do a double-take. I don’t look like a homeschooler. I am neither a religious fundamentalist nor an overly-crunchy earth-mama hippie type. (Neither are a lot of other homeschoolers. But you know, stereotypes abound.) My daughter attends public school. And so folks always seem surprised.
The best part, of course, is that people who would never dream of homeschooling (spoiler: I used to be one of those people who would never in a million years dream of homeschooling) have a lot of questions. And mostly those questions pertain to my son—is he keeping up? Does he ever see other kids? Doesn’t he miss regular school? The answers are yes, yes, and not really. (When someone outright asks me if my kid is socialized—like maybe I keep him in a box under my desk—I cannot be held responsible for any snarky response I might blurt out, though.)
We’ve eased into it; our first year, he went to a homeschooling collab nearly full-time. This year, he’s gone half-time. And the coming year? I think we’re going to do a full curriculum at home, finally. We’ve found our groove. But even when people know I work full-time from my home office, it’s rare that they’ll ask how I manage it.
Apparently a supposedly unsocialized teenager is more interesting that a parent who has to figure out how to do her job and educate her kid at the same time.
The answer to “how do you do it?” is, at least right now, that I cheat… rather a lot. Utilizing an umbrella program out of the house takes some of the burden off of me in terms of curriculum programming, and it also gives me a few days a week during which I can just focus on my own work. On my son’s home days, we’re using our state’s Virtual School for online classes, which again means that the burden of curriculum programming is lifted off my shoulders. I joke that all of this is cheating, but really, I prefer to view it as smart delegation. There are plenty of reasons why homeschooling is the best environment for my son right now, and even more reasons why I can’t just drop everything and sit down with him for hours every day to try to be his Teacher Of All Things. This is the compromise; he doesn’t have to endure the shark tank that is public middle school, and I don’t have to give up my career. We’re making it work.
Well, most of the time we make it work. Welcome to May! Otherwise known as: We’re in the home stretch for the current school year. I would really like for everything to continue in the education/work groove we’ve been in, and all the best laid plans are being blown up.
See, my son is pretty self-sufficient with his online work… usually. I see myself in a supervisory role, mostly. But the semester’s almost over and he has projects and more work than usual, and he needs more help than usual. And because he’s taking classes with state-mandated EOCTs (End Of Course Tests), we have to do things like get dressed and leave the house to take him to a mandated testing site for his final exams. (Kidding! We always get dressed and often leave the house. But the EOCT thing is kind of freaking him out after a blissful year of working at his own pace at home.)
In a couple of weeks, it’ll be over. And then my daughter will finish up, too, and for a couple of lazy summer months I won’t have to worry about anyone’s school work. But right now I find myself fighting the urge to respond with “What now?” when my son interrupts me for the fifth time in an hour, because he’s working on a project and really needs more support than me checking on him here and there. I’m stressed out about getting my own work done, and he’s stressed out about getting his stuff done, and I find myself reminding us both that “It’s almost over! Just a few more assignments!”
Of course, I’ll still have to work when school’s over, but at least I won’t have to try to remember how radioactive decay works, at the same time. And that’s a relief, because I just realized I was lying about not having to worry about school work this summer—my daughter’s going to be taking a summer class from home. Whose stupid idea was that?? Oh, wait. I think it was mine.
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