Dawn Rye| Writer
The trend of homeschooling has grown increasingly diverse in recent years. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, an estimated 4.5 to 5.0 million homeschool students were in grades K-12 in March of 2021.
In a homeschool setting, parents can give a more personalized lesson plan for their children. Public school teachers have a classroom full of students with different abilities and levels of learning. Their lesson plans won’t be tailored for each student. Homeschool allows the parents to assess their child’s strengths and weaknesses and help build lessons around their needs.
Turner County homeschool mom Kristin Schmidt said she chose to homeschool for her family for many reasons, but mainly because she enjoys teaching and learning with her children. Being there for all of it, the good and the bad, is what makes it all worth it for her. Schmidt appreciates the flexibility that comes with it and has been able to experience more as a family than they would be able to in a formal school setting.
She explained her curriculum looks very different day to day. They use a specific curriculum, but the beauty of homeschooling is that she can adjust it day-to-day based on the kids’ needs and interests.
“Some days, it’s chaos and it takes the class all day to get things done, or they may even have to push things off for the next day. Other days it’s like a dream and they get through everything swiftly with a smile on everyone’s faces,” commented Schmidt.
They have also joined a co-op that meets one day a week (a formal class style separated by grade) and offers field trips. The family has found many ways to connect with other homeschooling families to help give a well-rounded social learning experience.
She noted choosing a curriculum or using a mixed curriculum is totally up to each family and can be pretty overwhelming. Her family decided to find one based on some specific needs they wanted to meet. She went with a classical-style curriculum that offered Latin, cursive and Christian studies. It is fully scheduled for her day-to-day and has teaching guides for each subject.
What makes homeschooling more unique than attending regular school?
Schmidt said homeschool is unique for them because she can cater to each child’s learning styles.
“I can develop a different plan and schedule that works best for each of them and they can work at their own pace. It also allows for a more flexible schedule”, she noted.
The most exciting thing about homeschooling for her is when the lightbulb goes on, she gets to be there to experience their learning. There is nothing more enjoyable to her than being there for all aspects of her kids’ learning, whether from a textbook, baking, hunting, or creating their art projects.
“Being with my kids is what brings me joy and I am very blessed that I can be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool,” said Schmidt.
Some challenges she faces is having four children; a second-grader, a kindergartener, a three-year-old and one-year-old. People give a lot of advice about ‘sensory bins’ and ‘give them their school work’ doesn’t always work for every kid. Her youngest falls under the ‘nothing entertains them independently’ category, which can be a real struggle for which she has not yet found the best solution.
“It’s not always perfect. I’ll be the first to admit it can be really tough. There can be tears shed, but we make it through and do our best with whatever challenges each day brings,” she stated.
Schmidt started the Homeschoolers of Turner County Facebook page based on the need in the area. It allows the other homeschool parents to connect, ask questions, share experiences and plan meet-ups.
Her advice for parents looking into homeschool their children is, “You can do it. No matter what you think of yourself and your ability to teach, you can do it.”
Schmidt struggled a lot with thinking she wasn’t “smart enough” to teach her kids or what if they fall behind. Finding the right curriculum, reaching out to other homeschooling parents for support, joining a co-op, being flexible and most of all, give yourself grace.
“You will make the best decisions for your children, so trust your instincts,” said Schmidt.