Homeschooling Is Not Public School At Home (And That’s A Good Thing!)

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As part of the How We Homeschool blog series, I want to spend a few minutes explaining how homeschooling is not public school at home and why this is a good thing for you and your children. Homeschooling is more than an educational method, my friend, – it’s a lifestyle that embraces education while focusing on the family as a unit.

What Is Homeschooling?

For many new homeschooling families, this shift can be challenging – I know it was for me. Yet time has shown me the difference and why it’s vital for our success as a homeschool family to ditch the public school mindset and embrace the life of a homeschool family.

Which means, before we move forward I need to make sure that when I speak of homeschooling you and I are on the same page. That we are talking about the same thing.

When I say homeschooling I am speaking of a process where you, the parent, guide and direct your child’s education. Where you focus on not just academic success but also guide and nurture your children to be adults with the values, beliefs, and standards that your family chooses to uphold.

But What About Homeschool Laws?

Yes, there are laws regarding homeschooling. And yes, as homeschoolers we do need to follow them. But when your state tells you to make sure you child has math, science, Language Arts, history, health, physical education, and so on, they do leave the rest to you.

You decide what physical education means and you can opt to go to the park, jump on a trampoline, or call horseback riding, gymnastics lessons, or karate practice physical education.

You are able to teach health in a way that allow your teach your children about their bodies and what is or is not appropriate yourself.

And you get to determine what will be in your child’s math, science, Language Arts, and history lessons for this year and every other year you opt to continue homeschooling.

Embracing The Homeschool Mindset

As a brand new homeschooler, it can be normal to feel overwhelmed, unprepared, and like you are in over your head. In fact, I tell most homeschool parents that that feeling never fully goes away – it’s normal.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed starting any new task but especially when you decide to take control of your child’s education.

Perfectly acceptable to feel unprepared no matter how many hours you research curricula, resources, learning styles, or homeschool methods.

And yeah, unless you are an expert in everything, natural to feel like you are in over your head when it comes to teaching children. Our society is programmed to make us feel like we can only teach them for a few short years, then, we have to turn them over to the “experts” and let them do the “real work”.

Homeschooling, on the other hand, embraces the fact that you are their parent. You are the one who knows this child best and are fully capable of teaching them and training them not in just what they need to know but how to learn what they want to know.

The homeschool mindset is all about finding the lessons in the ordinary and the joy of keeping your family connected through both love and education. It’s understanding that learning doesn’t happen only between the hours of 8 AM and 3 PM, Monday through Friday, September through June, separated neatly by subjects and bells.

No. Learning is messy and involved and the best learning happens when our kids are engaged, interested, and passionate about what they are learning.

How To Ditch The Confines Of Public School

When I was a child, I went to public school. And when I think of education, I do still want to think in terms of subjects, categories, and standard time frames.

When we first began homeschooling, I replicated what I knew because I thought it worked. I mean, I graduated after all, so that must mean something? 😉

Armed with a beautiful schedule, a well thought out plan based on my own educational experience, and determined to succeed, my kids and I embarked on a colossal failure of a first year. It was so bad, I actually quit.

That last day of our homeschool year I cried tears of joy that the torment was over. Yet, after a break I realized that our challenges were not going to go away simply because the kids went back to public school. All of my reasons for homeschooling were still there and still quite valid.

What I needed to do was learn myself. I needed to learn the difference between homeschooling and public education and find what was right for us.

5 Ways Homeschooling Is Not Public school At Home

Portrait of two diligent girls looking at camera at workplace with schoolboys on background

As you begin your homeschool journey, I want to share with you 5 tips. These are things that my family and I have learned over the years that we have been homeschooling. Knowledge that will help you as you transition to the life of a homeschool family.

1. Learning Can Happen At Any Time

It might be obvious but you, my friend, need to remember that learning can happen at any time. Your son may want to gaze at the stars on a cloudless summer night. Your daughter may want to learn the piano on a Saturday.

Just like our children did when they were babies, curiosity will spark at any moment and they will be drawn into learning more. Embrace this and run with it.

2. Let Them Be Little

We as a society have decided that our children need to be rushed into academic success and constantly push our children to do more, learn more, and excel at younger and younger ages.

My question remains: at what cost are we doing this, and to whose benefit do these things happen?

Early academic success does not guarantee your child’s continued success and unless your child is truly ready to learn a new concept, it will just mean frustration for both of you. Instead, opt for a home that is open to learning and welcoming to new ideas at any age.

Even if you live in an area that required education at 5 or 6, you can still allow your littlest learners the freedom to be children.

3. Standards are not set in stone

Homeschooler’s tend to fear that their children will be behind, with good reason. Our society loves standards and comparing everything we can.

Yet, standards are not set in stone guarantees that our children are ready.

If your child is struggling in one subject, odds are they are not ready for the material being presented. And there is a fair chance their brain is simply focused on something else.

Rather than sit and struggle, take a break. Work on something else. Breathe and relax. A child who is not reading by 6 is not behind. And a child who can’t multiply in the 3rd grade may be ready in the 4th.

4. Grade Levels Are Not As Important As You Think

Yeah, I’m going to say it – your child’s grade level is not nearly as important as you think it is. Instead of surrounding your home with material for your child’s grade level, invest in resources that will encourage your child to grow.

This could mean 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-grade items for an 8-year-old. It could mean 8th-grade science in the 6th grade (as my son did). And it may even look like Algebra in the 10th grade.

What is important is nurturing your child and helping them grow and learn.

5. When In Doubt, Read A Book

Never doubt the power of a story to bring calm to your homeschool and day. A good story, a snack, and some time together can teach you all so much more than any textbook or workbook every could.

Homeschooling Is Not Public School At Home

And that is a very good thing, my friend. You have the opportunity to be involved in your children’s lives in a way you never could before.

It won’t always be easy – there will be days you all struggle and wonder why you chose this life – but it will be always worth it.

With homeschooling, you have a front-row seat to your child’s childhood, rather than evening, weekends, and vacation visitation. And you have the chance to help mold, shape, influence, and witness as they transition from child to teen to young adult in a way many families do not.

However, that also means you have to learn, just as much as the kids do, how to homeschool and what that looks like.

It’s different for all families – but this is one of the benefits of homeschooling: the ability to customize a life, childhood, and education that is based around family, learning, and growth rather than progress reports and bells.

No, homeschooling is not public school at home, but that, my friend, is a great thing. Embrace it and enjoy the freedom that homeschooling brings to your family!


This post was written by….

Kelly Warner lives in the beautiful state of Maine along with her arborist husband (and high school sweetheart), four amazing children, an ornery cat, and a hyper puppy. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mom, online business owner, reader of all things literature, and the official chaos coordinator of her home. You can find more about Kelly and how she helps homeschool moms like you on her website or by following her on social media.

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This article is a part of our How We Homeschool Series; a collection of content from full-time, veteran homeschoolers sharing their own experiences on the versatility and diversity of homeschooling. You can read more about the series, and see all of the content, by clicking the image below. 

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