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Sentimental Senior and Family Photographer based in Glen Allen, VA

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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’s decided to return to public school next year in preparation for high school. Homeschool has served an amazing purpose for Noah. We’re so proud of his hard work and the way he maintained his academic achievements.

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 in several capacities, too? I didn’t give those things up to homeschool. I made it work beautifully for us.

Our Why

First of all, Noah was the one who chose homeschool for himself, albeit in a quick manner. He did this for a variety of personal and academic reasons. It was an option we presented him when he felt unsupported at his current school. Without getting into specific details, it turned out to be the right decision for Noah at the time. Homeschool served a great purpose and allowed us to find out how Noah learned best. If you are feeling unsupported with your current school situation, you better believe there’s a reason for it! Never give up on advocating for your child and if you’re being brushed off like we were at the time, go up the ladder. To be frank, I know I pissed off some school administrators and cried in their offices while they accused me of some pretty off-the-wall things. It was upsetting at the time, but now, I do not care! I was 100% correct on my instincts. The bitchy side of me would love to shove the plain-as-day-official evidence in their faces one day, but alas, I won’t do that cause I’m kind. 🙂 Now, onto the important stuff…

Our curriculum

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. I’m very pro-teacher and many teacher friends who also knew homeschool suggested this program. There were times when I did instruct Noah myself. For example, this year I re-learned Algebra to help with lessons. By the end of the year we were doing math 4 out of 5 days of the week. Noah also did a spelling and writing course, which I 100% taught using various teacher-recommended resources. Otherwise, Noah managed the other classes on his own.

I highly recommend Power Homeschool to my home educating friends, especially those who are still working, have multiple children, etc. 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.

Noah’s Schedule

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!

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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, which I turned into a little research project! 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!

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How I Stayed on Schedule

Running a small business allows you to set your own schedule for the most part. I’ve made some adjustments, but nothing I would deem major. 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 days 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. I use several software applications that automate tasks. It’s a must for any sole artist.

I 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!

What I’ve Learned and What I’ll Miss

Goodness, Tim and I know our son better 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 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. One former teacher told us Noah wouldn’t handle the change well and I wouldn’t be able to handle the routine of homeschool. He’s maintained all As and Bs and see, we did it! I had a Target employee say he’d become socially inept when asking why he wasn’t in school that day. 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 most socially-appropriate kids and maintains his friendships. The other homeschooled kids we know are the exact same.

The stares and looks we got if we were out during regular school time were always interesting. Some would have the nerve to ask if he was skipping school? It was NONE of their business, but Noah would politely say he’d finished for the day. Various looks would ensue, about half of them in weird disapproval. “He’s homeschooled,” I’d simply reply.  Noah and I would just laugh.

I explain the above because I know there are many other parents in our situation who 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 done any research. 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 parent 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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