It will be difficult to socialize your children and motivate them to study. You will struggle to reintegrate into the system. Are you even qualified to be their teachers? I can’t afford to quit my job and stay home with the kids. Are all these statements just myths about homeschooling, or is there some truth to them?
After a year of homeschooling, everyone is safe, healthy, and happy, and the end-of-year exams were completed in April. It’s time for a little recap.
O tym przeczytasz
- 1 The Biggest Myths About Homeschooling – Did Anything Prove True?
- 2 Homeschooled children lack contact with other kids
- 3 Parents are not fit to be teachers
- 4 Parents have to quit their jobs to homeschool their children.
- 5 What does my day look like – a homeschooling mom’s day with kids?
- 6 Lack of standards and grades, so the child lacks motivation to learn.
- 7 “Creativity is the greatest educational tool we can give to our children.” – Sir Ken Robinson
- 8 Limited Diversity of Experiences – Myths about Homeschooling
- 9 And the biggest myth about homeschooling: lack of preparation for future life.
The Biggest Myths About Homeschooling – Did Anything Prove True?
When we applied for homeschooling for our children (1st and 2nd grade) last year before moving to Thailand, we received numerous comments and concerns. The general perception was that it would be challenging. We were warned that we wouldn’t be able to handle it and that the kids would become detached from school and responsibilities, living in a perpetual vacation under the palm trees.
Did it really turn out that way? See for yourself. Let’s address the biggest myths about homeschooling.
Homeschooled children lack contact with other kids
One of the most common myths is that homeschooled children are socially isolated and lack opportunities for interaction with their peers. I addressed this myth months before when we were considering that our children might not follow the standard school path. Through conversations on my podcast “Dobranocka dla rodziców” (definitely listen to interviews with Andre Stern and Monika Kamińska-Wcisło from the Center for Homeschooling – in polish) and countless discussions with parents who homeschool their children, we talked about whether homeschooled kids are really socially deprived and lacking something here.
As it turns out, it’s quite the opposite. In the vast majority of cases (with some exceptions, of course), homeschooled children are much more open, bold, and curious about the world. They spend a lot of time engaging in various activities, such as cultural centers, playgrounds, parks, interest-based clubs, language schools, and scouting. Not only do they meet many different children and build relationships, but they also learn to work in groups with kids from various backgrounds.
Apart from their Polish lessons, our children attend a small school on Koh Lanta, led by a Canadian teacher and a Thai teacher. Their classmates come from the UK, Israel, Thailand, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Poland (the Polish community on Lanta is growing!). After school, the children go to the cinema, the beach, or someone’s house together. They also have occasional group outings on weekends. Seriously, we have plenty of time with other children here.
Parents are not fit to be teachers
Some people believe that parents lack the necessary skills and knowledge to provide their children with high-quality education at home. I was also a bit concerned about this at the beginning. After all, neither I nor Mario have a pedagogical background, and we are not familiar with teaching methodologies. However, it turns out that I was worrying unnecessarily.
Every child transitioning to homeschooling receives a list of topics from their teacher(s) that covers the curriculum they need to prepare for the exams.
This list minimum requirements is provided at the beginning of the homeschooling journey, allowing ample time for planning the work with the child for the entire year. Knowing that access to Polish libraries or educational materials may be limited in Thailand, we decided to utilize the Platform of the Center for Homeschooling (in your country you will find similar platforms), which provides a divided curriculum for specific lessons for the entire primary school. I must admit that it greatly facilitated the implementation of the entire material for us.
Additionally, we have used and continue to use fantastic, free online educational materials and resources.
Seriously, based on our experience, the primary skill a parent needs in homeschooling is knowing where to find materials that their child can use.
Parents have to quit their jobs to homeschool their children.
This is one of the bigger myths about homeschooling. Although I must admit that there is a grain of truth in it, especially when it comes to younger children (grades 1-3). It’s not just about covering the curriculum and the lessons themselves. In reality, they only take up a maximum of one hour per day (there were periods when it took us only one hour per week – the curriculum is really limited).
It’s about two other things. The first is teaching children the habit of learning systematically. Instilling the habit of sitting down with a book, notebook, game, markers, and crayons for a few minutes every day and dedicating time to something educational.
Showing children the process of thinking itself – how to think, rather than what to think. This is the most challenging, but at the same time, the most enjoyable aspect of homeschooling for me.
The second thing is simply taking care of the children. We wouldn’t leave first or second-grade children alone at home all day. One of the parents (in this case, it’s me) has to change their work schedule to spend more time with the children during the day. It’s not necessary to quit your job, but you do need to adjust it to the rhythm of the day with the children.
Another solution, if parents don’t want or can’t quit their full-time jobs, is to have a strong support network. It could be grandparents, extended family, or caregivers. Alternatively, you can make arrangements with other families in similar situations and organize alternate childcare. In this case, we work, for example, four days a week, while other families take care of and educate our children during that time. Then, on the day when we don’t work, we take all the children from the cooperative under our wing.
You can also reduce your working hours, request partial remote work, or, as we did, gradually work towards changing your work model.
What does my day look like – a homeschooling mom’s day with kids?
I work as a freelancer, so I have the flexibility to set my own work hours. When the kids are in their English school from Monday to Friday, I realistically have about 4 hours for work. In addition to that, my husband, Mario, takes over the kids’ care for 2-3 evenings a week or one day on the weekend.
Mario, on the other hand, works in two shifts. One job is here on-site at the diving center on Koh Lanta, and the other is remote work for a Polish organization, which he starts right after the first shift due to the time difference between Poland and Thailand.
Our model is not perfect. Sometimes it works great for us, and other times – when there is significantly more work – it requires a lot of dedication and juggling. Sometimes we have more flexibility, and other times we give up our “free time” or time for ourselves to keep all the strings in our hands.
As you can see, the decision to homeschool the kids entails a change in the entire family’s functioning model.
Lack of standards and grades, so the child lacks motivation to learn.
There is a belief that homeschooling lacks standards and a grading system, which may affect a child’s development. In reality, homeschooling parents often utilize various materials, curriculum programs, and assessment tools to provide structure and monitor their children’s progress (such as the resources available on the Center for Homeschooling website, which offer many great ways to assess whether a child has truly learned something or not).
Furthermore, are numerical grades – as it is the most common form of grading in traditional schools to which we have become accustomed – truly necessary?
A grade in itself does not mean anything.
It is simply information about whether our child has absorbed the material being assessed by the teacher at that particular moment, which he or she deems necessary to move on to the next topic. Nothing more. Knowledge can be assessed in a myriad of other ways. And most importantly, in a much less invasive manner than it is done in school.
I myself have realized that I used to treat all my bad grades as punishments that instead of motivating me, only undermined my confidence. But a bad grade is not a punishment. Punishment can be for something that is a wrongdoing. A bad grade is either a result of laziness (because I didn’t feel like studying) or a result of insufficient skills that simply need to be strengthened and supplemented. And that’s it.
“Creativity is the greatest educational tool we can give to our children.” – Sir Ken Robinson
That’s why in our homeschooling journey, I make sure it’s primarily a fun and creative adventure. It involves asking questions, seeking information from various sources, and observing our children. Each of them learns at a different pace and in a completely unique way. They have different interests and are motivated by different things to continue their explorations. If I were to assign grades after completing their work (thus unintentionally comparing my children), I believe it would be totally unfair.
Instead, I simply provide them with feedback on how they can apply the knowledge they have gained and what areas they can further improve on to put that knowledge into practice.
And it works wonderfully for us.
Limited Diversity of Experiences – Myths about Homeschooling
One of the myths about homeschooling children is the lack of diverse experiences that children acquire in traditional schools. Just a moment of reflection reveals that this is not true. Based on our own experiences and observations of others, parents in homeschooling are highly active in providing their children with a variety of experiences, both life-based and strictly academic.
What do we do to ensure these diverse experiences for our children?
- We take them on various trips (not just long ones): to the forest, to visit family in another town, to the mountains, kayaking, cycling, camping, skiing, to the cinema, theater, museum, to restaurants offering cuisine from different cultural backgrounds, and to meet experts from different fields, including our own work.
- We organize sleepovers with other children, both at our home and at the homes of our children’s friends.
- We meet for picnics in the woods, on the plots of friends and acquaintances, and spend time together.
- We have movie nights with neighbors and friends.
- We bake, cook, and come up with various peculiar dishes together.
- We read books and watch movies, and then discuss them – we have our own mini film clubs.
- We play games and experiments, both outdoors and on gaming consoles.
- We “allow” independence: making small purchases, ordering at restaurants, choosing their own outfits, taking care of personal hygiene, setting the table, organizing their belongings, and helping younger siblings.
- And many, many more – we simply live together with our children, involving them at various levels in our lives.
I am convinced that the collection of life experiences, including educational ones, primarily occurs outside of school. In school, for the most part, a standardized curriculum is implemented. All the trips and additional activities are at the discretion of the teacher. And as we know, these decisions may not always align with our desires.
And the biggest myth about homeschooling: lack of preparation for future life.
And finally, my favorite myth about education outside of school. There is a common belief that only school can prepare children for future life: social and professional. This is one of the biggest misconceptions resulting from a lack of basic knowledge on the subject.
First of all, what is this “future life”? What will it look like? What skills will our children need in 10 or 20 years? Is the Polish education system really the one that will prepare our children for life?
Mikołaj Marcela summed it up beautifully in one of the episodes of my podcast, Dobranocka dla rodziców: The modern Polish school trains for meaningless and mechanical work, it accustomed us to the idea that work is about sitting and sacrificing our free time.
It’s hard not to agree with him. Did you know that the education system we have in Poland today has remained almost unchanged since its inception? And it was created… in 19th-century Prussia. Back then, the main educational goal was to educate future factory workers and disciplined soldiers. I don’t think that’s what we’re aiming for today, right?