Noah’s 7th grade year and second year of homeschooling is coming to an end. He finishing up American History, his least favorite subject, and will be done! Noah has decided to go back to public school next year in preparation for high school. I’ve had a several people ask “what will I do with myself?” when he returns and I can’t help but laugh a bit. Did you know I work a full time job plus volunteer several places, too? I didn’t give those things up to homeschool. I made it work and survived!
Noah started homeschooling in 6th grade, so he was somewhat self-sufficient. I chose Power Homeschool, an online, video-based curriculum, which hosted certified teacher-taught lessons. This was super helpful in allowing me time to work my regular office hours. However, there were times when I did instruct Noah myself. For example, this year I had to relearn Algebra to be able to help with those lessons. At the end of the year we were doing math 4 out of five days of the week. Noah also did a spelling and writing course, which I 100% taught him using various resources. Otherwise, Noah managed his other classes on his own.
I highly recommend Power Homeschool to many of my home educating friends. The interface is simple and easy and there is such a variety of great courses for elementary through high school. They’re always adding more classes, too! The lessons are short and sweet, which meant there was no added “fluff.” Noah completed school in a few hours most days.
I made Noah’s “lesson plans” a few weeks at a time. Last year, I found The Family Homeschool Planner and it was a huge help in keeping us organized. The Power Homeschool interface is great and will allow you to set lesson completion goals for each week, but I wanted to be a little more detailed in what I expected of Noah. Adjustments were made many times, but at least there was a goal and a plan!
It’s very true that homeschool allows for flexibility. Noah’s grandmother passed away the first week of 7th grade, so needless to say we got a rocky start. There were times when school was done later in the afternoon or even on weekends if I had appointments or something came up. We even took a weeklong cruise vacation the end of February! As long as Noah was on track, he was allowed to indulge in the same spring break and holiday times as his public school friends. The flexibility is something I will greatly miss!
Running your own small business allows you to set your own schedule for the most part. In the past, I could schedule family sessions during weekday mornings. With homeschool, I had to readjust to later times and luckily my clients were super understanding. In the past I used to hold my in office meetings with clients in the evenings. With school and office work, I was exhausted by the end of the day. I started to hold more Facetime and phone conversations instead. On the days I had evening sessions, I would spend a little less time in the office that morning.
There were many times Noah would sit in my office for school while I worked. We would work side by side, me on edits and him usually on math. This was a lesson to him in itself. He saw I had to be self-motivated and he would do the same. I consider this a blessing!
I utilized my social media planner, CoSchedule, more than ever! I swear, my studio software, 17hats became a living, breathing person. Haha! Seriously, though. Outsourcing and creative technology is so worth the investment. You can see all the other resources I use to run my business here.
I also switched over to Google Calendar for our family instead of paper and pen. I love a pretty calendar, but I need it with me all the time and don’t want to lug around a big notebook in my purse. Tim needed to be able to add his appointments so I could see them and vice versa. This made life a lot easier for us. It also allows me to integrate my work calendar, which is fantastic! Tim never has to ask when I have a meeting or session!
Goodness, I know my son better now than ever. He may be a teenager, but his tone of voice and mannerisms are engrained in my every day. We have created a trusting and mutually respectful relationship.
I’ve learned opinions will fly when you do something “out of the norm.” In the beginning, everyone and their great-great-grandmother’s aunt had an opinion on OUR decision to homeschool. You can’t really keep it a secret when your child attended public school for 6 years. We had one teacher who told us Noah wouldn’t do well and I wouldn’t be able to handle the routine of homeschool. He’s maintained all As and Bs and see, I did it! I had a Target employee say he’d become socially inept. There was even a parent who said, “call me if he needs to be social!” What an insult. I wonder if they’ve met a homeschooled kid? Noah is probably one of the more socially appropriate kids you’ll ever encounter and still maintains his friendships. The other homeschooled kids we know are the exact same. What I loved the most were the stares and looks if we were out during regular school time. Some would ask if he was skipping. Noah would politely say he’d finished his school for the day. “Yes, he’s homeschooled,” I’d say. Various looks would ensue, about half of them in weird disapproval. Noah and I would just laugh.
I say the above because I know there are many other parents in our situation and have considered homeschool. I know this because you’ve reached out to me. You’re looking for acceptance, but here’s the thing, you don’t need it! You need a plan, yes. But you don’t need anyone to give you permission or their blessing to move forward. Don’t listen to others who have never considered homeschool for their family, or haven’t researched the actual facts. If you find you need a push, feel free to reach out to me. I’m not an expert, but I’m here to cheer you on with whatever you feel is right for your child.
We made homeschool work for us, at a time when Noah really needed it. If it wasn’t for homeschool, I wouldn’t know how my child learns best, how to help him succeed, or how to seek help from other resources. These last two years have been a huge blessing. Noah will be a better student and I know I’m a better mother because of homeschool.
I will NOT miss the lesson planning or the balancing act of work/school, but I will terribly miss my son once 8th grade starts. I will miss seeing his “ah ha!” moments as he learns new concepts. We learned a lot together and a lot about our little family. Noah learned first hand what it’s like to run a small business. He got to be mostly in charge of his education. He stared illness, disability, and unfortunately, death right in the face. He learned LIFE lessons, and to me, those are the greatest ones of all.
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All Photos and Text Copyright 2020 Laura Matthews Photography, LLC
Laura is a native of Glen Allen, Virginia. She specializes in portraits of high school seniors, children, and families. Laura serves the Greater Richmond area including Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield. Laura also travels for sessions to the eastern part of VA as well as the Outer Banks of North Carolina.