Online public school (often called online homeschool by many) is the first thing that comes to mind when many parents feel fed up and start looking for alternatives to public schools.
I was no different. When I began homeschooling, it was a very sudden decision. I’d always vaguely thought that homeschooling worked for some people, but that we were “normal” people who had our kids in public school like “everyone else.” I wanted us to all fit in.
Little did I know, two weeks into my oldest child’s first grade year, we’d be one of those weird homeschooling families. Totally not like “everyone else.” Totally not fitting in. I’d been a lawyer for about five years by then, and I had just left my job and struck out into self-employment. I’d been working part time since the birth of my third child, but with my new self-employment arrangement I was planning to work full time, with flexible hours I could set myself.
It was an undeniable fact that hit us like ten gallons of cold water. Our six-year-old child was suffering in public school, and we could not in good conscience send him back to the situation he was in. We had no choice but to homeschool. My first thought was what I used to think of as “online homeschool,” too. After researching and talking to veteran homeschool moms, I realized that referring to any public school as homeschool can muddy important distinctions between public school and non-public homeschool. Muddying those distinctions can lead to losing homeschool freedoms that homeschool pioneers fought to secure for us.
It was hard for me to figure out what to do for homeschool, too, especially after I rejected online public school as not being a good fit for us. I wasn’t sure we’d last more than a year homeschooling. How would we handle it?
How would I manage to juggle work and homeschooling and caring for my two preschool children?
It’s hard enough to choose a homeschool curriculum for all moms, but working moms often make the decision to homeschool because of an urgent need to remove their child from the public-school system. Parents who are feeling desperate to help their child don’t feel like they have time to waste. There are a lot of reasons why parents turn to online virtual public school, or other online options. Those options seem easy, but they can be completely ill-suited for certain working parents.
Online public school is “school at home,” not “homeschool” in the eyes of many veteran homeschoolers. You can do school at home if that works for you, but if your child struggled in public school, then online public school is not going to produce a miracle and make your child fit the public-school model. When you couple that with the needs of a working parent, it can be an even worse fit.
No one ever promised that homeschooling your child would be easy, but it sure feels easier if your curriculum is a good fit. This is especially so if you’ve got a tight schedule, like many working parents.
Find local homeschool networks in your area. Ask around. What do other people like? Of course, just because your friend likes something doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, but you’ll get a chance to look at it in person.
If you choose something that you thought would work, and you hate it, it doesn’t mean that homeschooling is not right for you! It just means that curriculum, style of schooling, etc. is not working for you and your child at this moment in time.
It’s going to take a lot of research, thought, and trial-and-error before you find what really fits your groove. Don’t worry about making curriculum mistakes when you start. Public schools change curriculum every few years. I think you can cut yourself a break if you want to change curriculum, too