July

Homeschooling is the road less traveled, and that makes all the difference.

Everyday my boys teach me something new. They teach me about life, about the world, and they teach me how to be a better parent. Homeschooling, also, is something I learn about everyday. Experience is the only thing that can teach you how to homeschool your own kids.

Despite the pandemic and despite the fact that we haven’t left our house in over four months (except for shopping, etc.), this has been a magical summer. My eldest son, the pianist, was accepted in the Interlochen Arts Camp, and we were sad when we realized they would have to cancel this year’s camp, but instead of cancelling it, they offered an online version. I wasn’t sure how that would work, but it ended up being better than we hoped. I’m simply amazed at what can be done online. Of course, it’s better in person, but Interlochen proved that learning, camaraderie and all the arts can continue online, and even after the pandemic is over, I hope people see that connecting, learning and working online is something we should do more of. If used wisely, the Internet can be a positive place for people who otherwise would not have access to the opportunities it offers.

My son had a wonderful time. For three weeks, he was immersed in music education with other like-minded and talented kids. He had private lessons, studio lessons, a master class with a prominent piano professor, many different classes about music, music history and theory, etc., and I thoroughly enjoyed the industry seminars — live, Zoom interviews with famous musicians and composers. My son also performed in three live-streamed recitals.

The best part for me was watching him interact with his peers and participate in classes, and this experience made both my husband and I realize that he needs more — no, NOT socialization (he already has that) — time spent in his element. This is who he is. He’s a musician. He speaks a special language, and he needs to be with people who speak the same language. I’m so grateful to Interlochen for providing that for him.

I think that all parents should consider it their job to help their child find “their people” or “tribe,” whichever term you prefer. This doesn’t mean you reject the people you already have around you, but every kid is unique, and some of them have special talents or inclinations. Helping them find others who share those same traits could open wide, positive doors that you can’t even imagine, especially if you don’t share the same traits. It makes me sad that so many parents are blind to this or don’t want their kids to find their tribe because they want their kids to be more like them.

The biggest criticism that I hear against homeschooling is about socialization. People think homeschooled kids are not socialized, whatever that means to you. Homeschoolers know this isn’t true. Our kids are better socialized than traditionally schooled kids, and one of the reasons is because we can allow them to explore the world freely, letting them try on different activities and pursuits until they find the one (or many) that best fit. In doing so, they find others who like similar stuff and think like they do. And because of this, our kids find a place for themselves in this world very early, and this builds a tremendous amount of self-esteem. For the rest of us, it takes years of adult life to find our place — I didn’t find it until I reached my thirties.

And I can hear the critical people saying “But kids need to learn how to cope and work with people who aren’t like them.” If you’re thinking that, are you kidding? You don’t think our kids are going to meet people who aren’t like them? Who disagree with them, discourage them, criticize them, or are neutral towards them? THOSE KIND OF FOLK ARE PLENTIFUL! Finding your kindred spirit is harder, but it’s essential for a life well lived.

I’ll come down off my soapbox now. While my eldest son was in camp, I spent a lot of time with my younger son, playing games, taking walks and reading books. It’s been nice to hang out at home for a summer, and we’ve had lots of time to care for our garden beds and potted plants, which you can see in the photo above. I even planted an herb garden.

Now it’s getting hot, so the afternoons are unbearable outside. It’s a good time to work on the boys’ portfolios. I’m still wrapping up this year’s work, and I’m preparing for next year’s lessons, which will start in September. I have so much to do that it’s overwhelming, if I think about everything at once. All I can do is peck at my task list bit by bit. Somehow it will all get done.

I hope that you’ve had a good summer despite the world’s affairs. Please take a minute to tell me what you’ve been up to, and if you find my blog helpful, I would greatly appreciate you sharing it on your social media sites. Thank you!

7 thoughts on “July

  1. I admire homeschooling families. I know it’s not easy. Because of the pandemic, the direction next month for the opening of classes is blended learning (online and modular) and I’m kind of having an anxiety because I know it would almost be the same as homeschooling and I know I have to try my best to teach my kids while I work full time.

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    1. Hi Meg…Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry you’re having so much anxiety. I would too, if I were in your shoes! I think the forced homeschooling is very different from actual homeschooling. We have flexibility with our time and curriculum, and we can take all the time we need to figure everything out! We tailor our schedules and curriculum to our children’s needs and our needs. I think the school curricula would be really hard to implement at home. So your feelings are very natural! Having said that, I am sure you can do it. If there’s any flexibility at all in your schedule, don’t hesitate to do what is right for you and your kids. Don’t feel that they have to get up at a certain time everyday or do work at a certain time unless that is helpful to you. Do it when it doesn’t conflict with your work! If you need your kids to watch T.V. for awhile so that you can work, do it. It’s not going to hurt them! I wish schools would make this easier on families by lowering their expectations and giving parents more control over the schedule. Kids will not lose out. We just need to get through this pandemic, and I am really hoping it will end sooner rather than later! Please let me know, I can do anything for you. Good luck!!

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      1. Thank you so much for these tips, Shelli! I will update you once it happens. Hopefully we all can adjust easily. Do you have a planner for homeschooling? How do you create a schedule?

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      2. Hi Meg…I don’t use a planner for homeschooling. I am list-maker, so I make lists of our priorities. Whatever I think it most important for the boys to learn, we do most often, etc. I wrote this (https://mamaofletters.com/2020/04/15/scheduling-your-homeschool-day/) about how I’ve scheduled our day in terms of the big blocks of time that are used for lessons vs. downtime, etc. But as for how I schedule our academic subjects within those blocks of time, I have changed that year by year, depending on what our priorities are. I have written a post each year for K-6 on how we scheduled our days. If you let me know what grades you are teaching, I can point you to a post. My favorite way of handling the academic lessons, however, was our rotation method, which I describe in my PDF for 7th grade: https://payhip.com/b/mVYR I think it’s the easiest way of handling lessons, if you have some flexibility with your time. I would imagine, however, if you are following your student’s school online learning plan, they will dictate the schedule for you?

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      3. Yes, Shelli, they are going to dictate the time. I’ll read your other blog post. I have an incoming Grade 7 and and preschooler next month.

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      4. Here is my post about preschool. Reading it again, I still stand by my words. https://mamaofletters.com/2013/09/17/the-only-preschool-curriculum-you-need-is-your-enthusiasm/

        For 7th grade, if I were you, I’d definitely follow the school’s curriculum, especially if you are not interested in homeschooling after the pandemic is over. There’s a lot to do to get ready for high school! I did write a PDF resource, which is in my store, about my plans for 7th grade, which we’re finishing up now, but you probably don’t need that. Much luck to you! At least at 7th grade, your student should be able to be pretty independent. You’ll have more work to do with the preschooler, I’m sure! That’s very hard, if you have to work full-time as well.

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Part of the reason I keep a blog is because being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely! So please reach out with a message, if you have a question or would like to chat. I usually write back within 24 hours, but please be patient.

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