Parents were under tremendous stress at the beginning of this school year as we faced the decision of what to do for “school” in 2020. Whether you chose to send your child back to school full-time in-person, keep them home virtually, or pull them out of school for homeschool, well done. I’m sure the decision was a hard one to make, and that you made the best choice for your family. There is no right context for school this year. We parents are doing the best that we can.
I chose to pull my children out of school to personally homeschool them for the first time in my life. I’m now a full-time homeschool mom AND a full-time working mom leading an organization. It has been hard.
There were many factors that led to my decision to homeschool. I want to share two of them with you with the hope that they might inspire or perhaps challenge you in your current situation.
First, my two sons (currently 11 and 9 years old) needed a restart. I have been a working mom for as long as I’ve been a mom, and my children have always attended public schools. At the same time, I founded an organization to provide valuable partnership to schools because I knew that schools were unable to provide whole-student development and real-world learning that all children desperately need.
I knew the child engagement statistics that said children love to learn until the 4th grade, at which point the graph peaks and engagement begins to plummet. Even so, a few years ago I watched as my oldest son, then in the 4th grade, suddenly begin to hate school. He started to think that he was stupid at math. He became afraid of tests. He started doing low-quality work because he was afraid of failing if he did his best work. He feared grades, rushed through his homework, stopped taking initiative, and was clearly discouraged. This went on for a few years, and only got worse, just as the statistics said it would.
I knew that the 2020-2021 academic year would be a mess due to COVID and I knew that hybrid models would be all over the place, putting most of the responsibility on parents to facilitate virtual learning from home. At first, as a working parent, I figured this was my only option. But, as I started to let go of fear of the unknown, I was able to see another option: homeschool. If I could homeschool I could control the curriculum and content, it would take less time than facilitating online classes, my son wouldn’t have to be graded and tested in the same way, and we could spend time together each day working on shifting the harmful mindsets about learning that my children have acquired over the years. It was a hard decision, be we eventually “jumped in.”
The last few months have been focused on exploring learning in a new way, asking exciting questions, encouraging curiosity and coaching my children to take initiative to lead their learning. As we spent time together, they saw how much I cared about their schooling and how much I like them as people. I began to speak to their identity—building confidence, belonging and acceptance. And they’ve been thriving!
I believe this year of becoming an active leader in my children’s schooling will in fact save them.
The second reason I chose to homeschool this year is because I wanted to jump into the proverbial “trenches,” for you. It is one thing to offer solutions to schools. It’s another to offer solutions to families in need of help. My daily lessons and struggles are forming strategies that I can share with other parents who are feeling compelled to “jump in” too. And I don’t mean jump into homeschooling. I mean jump into raising a learner.
Traditionally we parents (and I speak for myself here) have abdicated our responsibility to educate our children to the school system. This made sense. They are the professionals. They still are, and I LOVE teachers. I believe teachers are some of the most sacrificial heroes in our nation. But in the process of trusting the system, we let go of our parental role in it. This year, as our children come back into our homes to learn, this is our chance to re-enter the education arena. We have the responsibility to form productive mindsets in our children around learning—to break down harmful lies and break out of confining boxes. As their parents, developing our children is on us.
So, if you are a parent of a school-aged child, I encourage you to see the chaos of schooling right now as an opportunity to jump in. You don’t have to homeschool. You don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t even need to have tons of extra time. All you need is a vision for who your kids could be and the desire to begin building the relational foundation that will later give you the permission to rebuild their mindsets and rediscover their love for learning.
Big Idea Project is launching a new online learning community series for parents who want more for their child’s learning in this season and beyond. Our first course is called “Unleashing the Curious Learner.” It is a 6-week introductory course (taught by yours truly, and others) that will help you do three things:
- Guide your child to rediscover learning
- Know your child so that you can lead them
- Understand how to find your child’s unique genius
The course is in community with other parents, and provides practical teaching and weekly tools you can put into action to begin shifting learning dynamics now. Whether it’s in this course, or other future learning communities for parents, I hope to meet you as we learn together how to jump in, and set our children up for a life they will love.
by Tricia Halsey, Executive Director
Click here to learn more about our parent course and REGISTER! Class starts November 2nd!