By Lisa Batchelder-Hetrick
Updated November 2021:
Our personal homeschool journey pivoted again and with it came a return to in-person, classroom learning! But we didn’t abandon homeschooling. Instead, we embraced the ability to add to our daughter’s classroom experiences. Like many other families, my child (who is an only child) missed friends. We took a leap of faith that change is good, and we found ourselves in a new school at the start of the 2021 school year. Our challenge then became keeping her on track. Homeschooling resources provided the tools. We supplement her school topics with what we have at our fingertips in our homeschool program. It is a way to dive deeper into the topics she loves and to solve the problems of “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand.” Our homeschool units from Lighthouse Homeschool Solutions give her guidance and activities for learning more about topics like Matter, Heat, & Energy, Native Americans, and most recently Egypt. She loves being able to bring those topics to life through the readings, videos, and activities. We also find that the organizational tools she developed while homeschooling are a huge benefit to her during classroom learning. She keeps her subjects in a binder with the writing samples and art well organized. As her parent, I like being able to track her academic progress all in one place. Lastly, as we start to explore through travel experiences, we find ourselves looking to our homeschool lessons to enhance our journeys, not for the sake of doing more work, but rather for the true love of learning something new. I continue to look for opportunities to learn and grow by exploring family traditions, mentorships, and extending our classroom beyond our four walls, all while teaching to her strengths and supporting areas where she may need more guidance. Learning should never stop, and I am grateful for the lessons that homeschooling has taught us as we continue the journey!
In our family, life has slowed down due to COVID, and although uncertainty seems to be on everyone’s mind, I am finding reasons to be grateful. When 2020 forced our family to pivot and leave our Montessori school, we had questions and concerns about what was next for our daughter’s education. Homeschooling has been the answer we didn’t know we were looking for. Our journey has just begun, but I can already see many benefits of homeschooling!
- Exploring Family Traditions
I have taken this opportunity to reconnect with family traditions. We have revived family recipes, and we’ve had fun learning about the family history around each one. This time together has also given us a chance to search out some of our family tree and start tracing our roots. We are creating a list of places to visit, when we can travel again, in order to help bring the stories of our ancestors to life.
- Enjoying Mentorship Experiences
I have become the primary teacher for our daughter, but I know the value of her learning from other adults. Luckily her participation in her favorite hobby includes a mentorship program that has been able to continue through a Zoom format. Learning from experts in their field shows her much more than what she learns from just independent research. The mentors bring ideas and concepts to life and spending time with them gives my daughter a chance to build her self-esteem. She has learned to communicate across generations and has made special bonds with her mentors.
- Teaching to My Child’s Learning Style
Our family comes to homeschooling from a Montessori school, so my daughter is used to working at her own pace, with the flexibility to explore her own learning path. It’s a learning style that suits her, and homeschooling allows us to continue with that flexible structure here at home.
- Extending Projects for More Comprehensive Learning
My daughter’s interests guide our studies. By taking more time to dive deeply into a topic, she is learning more through doing. This interest-led learning helps her find the intrinsic motivation to take on challenges, helps her enjoy what she is learning, and offers meaningful learning experiences that are different every time. She is never bored, and she feels as though she’s guiding her own learning process.
- Making the World Our Classroom
One of our favorite parts of homeschooling is broadening our definition of “the classroom.” Because our time is our own, we can take our lessons on the road when we want to, without worrying that it conflicts with a set schedule. We love exploring our neighborhood and community to enrich what we are learning at home. We look forward to exploring even more once the indoor places that we love are open to visitors again!
While there are still many things to learn about homeschooling and to learn about each other in the process, our family is making the best of every moment that we are sharing together. For us, 2020 has taken us on a journey of learning and experiences that are more valuable than we thought could be possible. Keeping a positive mindset during this time, and embracing the beauty to be found in this change, is one key to our success going forward.