No 'one size fits all' in homeschooling
Last updated 8/15/2020 at 1:44pm
Homeschooling is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type of world, according to a handful of local homeschooling parents.
"There are going to be times where you need to put the schoolbooks down and just sit and read a book together out loud,"said Gina Swafford Prather of Bovina, who previously headed a homeschool theater group in Clovis that put on productions including "Our Town," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and "Peter Pan."
"My daughter was 9 before she started really reading well," she said. "Now, she's 26 and getting her master's degree. I didn't worry that she wasn't reading great at 5. I just kept reading with her."
Joseph Blaschke of Clovis said his older daughter is a year older than his other daughter and is one to two grades ahead of her in most subjects, but she is the same level as her younger sister in math, because math is just simply not her strong suit.
"With homeschool, it's not cookie cutter," Blaschke said. "It lets us use an individualized approach to children. We are doing a full curriculum and including all subjects. (But) It's different. Not every day is the same."
According to Blaschke, Prather, and other homeschooling parents, the beauty is in the flexibility and the fact that you don't have to do the same thing with your children day in and day out.
"You know your children, and you know what they need and where they're at. You will become very burnt out very quickly if you are looking at the clock and going, 'We have to school for five hours or we have to school for eight hours.' Don't think about it in terms of how long you do it but think of it in terms of how your student is doing that day," Prather said. "Sometimes learning takes place in five minutes and sometimes it takes place all day. First- and second-graders aren't going to be able to sit at the table all day. Expectations need to be much more concentrated on those small baby steps first, rather than overall, big steps."
But those are philosophies that people develop over time, Prather said. Parents don't go into homeschooling having everything figured out. And that's OK. A system develops over time.
"They will learn just by being with you, and if they start out learning the basics of reading, writing, and math, you are good, and the rest will fall into place over time," she said.
Blaschke, a father of seven children, ranging from 3 to 10 years old (who have never been in the public education system), said he and his wife work hard to keep the two worlds separate for their children so that school life does not interfere with personal life. He said they have a rule that schoolwork stays in the school room.
"My wife and I have found that we need that extra boundary, because it's healthier for the kids and healthier for us," Blaschke said. "We work really hard in trying to keep those in separate compartments. We aren't always perfect at it, but that's what we try to do. That's probably the hardest part of homeschooling is trying to separate those two."
So, how does a parent seeking to homeschool their children get started?
Portales resident Sara Cox, who just started homeschooling her children within the last three weeks, said she contacted friends who had already been homeschooling, and they told her to register with the Public Education Department, which she did.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is also a good source for information on state laws regarding homeschooling, according to Prather.
Cox said she chose a curriculum called Master Books, because she knew other homeschooling moms who used it and loved it, and it was Christian-based and easy to understand.
Blaschke said he and his wife use a curriculum called "My Father's World," which is "history as the context of learning," in which his children cover six different eras of history, and each era is applied to their different subjects.
Cox said she chose to homeschool her two daughters, because she wanted to give them consistency in a world that is very inconsistent.
"I didn't want to send them to school, then have the governor go, 'Oh, never mind,' and send them back home. That's not really fair to them," Cox said. "I think our kids need as much consistency as they can get right now. I can't control much, but I can control this and at least give them that consistency."
Cox said she is "playing by ear" whether she will continue homeschooling long-term or not.
"One thing I've learned through all of this is go with the flow," she said. "We will see. Before this, I was not a homeschooler. I never in a million years thought this is what I'd be doing. If we love it, we'll stick with it. If we don't, we'll change things again."
As far as homeschooling not being so cookie-cutter, Cox said she is definitely discovering the same. She said what worked for her the first day of school with her children has not worked since, and there have been kinks to work out along the way.
"Between my two kids, they learn so much differently. My one daughter is a nerd. You give her a book, and she'll sit for hours. But my other one is completely different. She is a hands-on learner, so it works better to teach her with hands-on activities like clay," she said. "So, I have to teach both of them very differently, but it makes the day interesting and fun, and it keeps me on my toes. I enjoy meeting them where they're at and not so much making them a mold of where someone thinks they should be at."