It was in my seventh year of teaching when my opinions began to change. I had just married my husband and moved to California where he was stationed with the Coast Guard.
As I walked into a teaching job in October, I learned just how much our education system differed between states. It was the first time I started to consider homeschooling as an option for my own family and how my journey began from classroom teacher to homeschooler.
Becoming a parent changed my viewpoint.
It would be another two years before we would add a little one of our own and that’s when my outlook changed even more. We moved to Michigan while I was pregnant and we decided that I would stay at home with our baby.
I couldn’t justify the cost of daycare versus my salary as a teacher – especially when our second son was born just 21 months after our first. Staying home with my littles made more sense.
During this time, I started my Instagram account to document some of the fun activities I was doing with my toddler. As I connected with others in the Instagram sphere, I started to learn more about homeschooling and how it could vary in so many ways.
I was beyond intrigued.
My eldest turned four in February and I debated pre-k for him. There were a lot of factors I considered but in the end, I decided that this would be the perfect test year for homeschooling.
We’ve always done fun learning activities together but this year, I wanted to make things a bit more focused and organized. I don’t know what our future holds yet but I’m definitely open to all of the possibilities.
Homeschool is not a classroom.
From classroom teacher to homeschooler, I have had to let go of a lot of my traditional thoughts about teaching.
There are aspects of my teaching philosophy that definitely carries over into our homeschool, such as having fun and teaching through experiences rather than worksheets. However, there are other aspects that are vastly different from classroom teaching.
One of these is the environment for homeschooling. When I first started thinking about how I wanted our days and lessons to look, my brain went to a classroom and how to decorate our playroom with learning posters and visuals.
This didn’t quite feel right though and that’s when I went browsing through social media for ideas and examples. What I found there was much different from a classroom.
I learned that homeschooling could take place anywhere – the kitchen table, a designated room, outside, even the bed! Where the learning happens doesn’t matter as much as the learning itself.
There was a sense of relief when I realized this. I didn’t need to worry about setting up an engaging space for our lessons. I needed to worry about making things engaging so that my kids could learn in a way that fits them as individuals and fits our family as a whole.
There was a light bulb that went off when I realized that this is the perfect fit for my teaching philosophy.
Everyone homeschools differently.
The next thing I went looking for was “how to homeschool my preschooler.” I quickly went into information overload. The possibilities are endless on how you can homeschool – especially at the preschool level.
From classroom teacher to homeschooler, I learned that some use curriculums that they’ve carefully picked out while others piece together resources around specific themes.
There are many different philosophies of homeschooling and educating kids and you can find information for any of them. You can also find those that combine philosophies to create their own way of homeschooling.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to homeschooling.
I have always believed that every child learns differently and that lessons should be based on this detail. In the classroom, this could be tricky since you were often dealing with 20 individuals with very different learning styles and abilities.
Homeschooling is no different – there are typically fewer students though (although you could be teaching multiple grades which can pose its own set of hurdles).
Homeschooling is the perfect way to create an experience that is unique and tailored to your child. This was a detail I fell in love with. This was one of the things that drew me into homeschooling.
Learning can (and should) be fun.
Even when I was a teacher, I focused on making our lessons fun and memorable for the kids. I wanted them to go home and tell their parents about the fun they had at school.
I was always bound by the rules of the school which meant that sometimes I had to use a curriculum that didn’t fit with my way of teaching or I had to use a specific method or program that the school or district had adapted.
I wasn’t always able to be the best teacher for my students because I also had to follow the guidelines of those above me.
Homeschooling is a bit different. There are definitely guidelines to follow and documentation to submit depending on the state you live in, but there is also a lot of freedom.
You don’t have to worry about a principal observing your classroom or someone following up to make sure you’re sticking to the pacing guide even though some of your students aren’t ready for the skills listed out for them.
Homeschooling is one of the most individualized approaches to learning and I love that.
I am able to keep fun and play at the heart of our school time. I know from my years of studying childhood development that this is the best way for kids to learn and explore in the early years.
We bring literacy, math, and many other skills into our play often but it’s less “formal” and even I’m sometimes amazed at what my kids pick up just from everyday interactions.
Learning starts at birth.
While interacting with others in the homeschooling and early childhood community, I have come to put together a more concrete philosophy on how kids learn and grow.
For us, learning starts at birth (and maybe even before then). There are so many things that parents can do with babies to start them on a healthy path towards learning including tummy time, reading books aloud, and talking to them about the world around them.
Babies learn through discovery. They are constantly growing and finding new ways to interact with the world around them. Discovery is at the heart of learning for a baby.
Toddlers learn through play. They take discovery to the next step and start to experiment and interact with things in a new way. Discovery and play leads to the learning that takes place at the preschool level and beyond.
Discovery and play never go away though – they are always at the heart of the learning taking place inside our homes and schools.
That’s my Homeschool Story: From Classroom Teacher to Homeschooler.
Thank you to Pamela Hodges with Little Learning Moments for writing this guest post!
Pamela Hodges is a former teacher turned work-at-home mama. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, four-year-old son, two-year-old son, and shelter dog. They are expecting another little boy in January 2022. She has just started homeschooling her preschooler and toddler and shares her adventures on her blog and Instagram. She loves meeting new people online and would love for you to send her a message about this post! Find more about her at Little Learning Moments and on Instagram.