I Was Homeschooled Until College - and Can't Wait to Teach My Kids at Home, Too

Sydni Ellis

Math is hard. (I'm a writer, I should know.) So is science. And geography. And don't get me started on politics - especially when you are trying to explain any of those subjects to a kid. But one thing parents are exceptional at: knowing what their kids need most. That's one reason I, someone who was homeschooled through high school, can't wait to homeschool my kids one day.

Even before COVID-19 shut down schools, I knew I was going to homeschool. It's in my blood, you could say. My homeschool journey began when I was 4 and my mom helped me with once-a-month preschool boxes that came in the mail while my older brother went to "real school" for kindergarten. My mom had so much fun teaching me at home that she decided to give homeschooling a try one year later.

Now it was my turn to head to kindergarten, as my brother was beginning first grade. Except there was a problem: I was so jealous of the fun work he got to do, I couldn't stand it. I would read his books out loud and answer his questions before he could, just to prove to my mom that I could do it, too (some would call that ambition; my brother called it annoying). It felt like my birthday when my mom finally relented and moved me up to first grade as well. Because she was homeschooling, this was a decision she could easily make, since it worked well for our family. She also got to choose her own curriculum based on feedback from us and other homeschoolers and gave us a flexible schedule - no 6 a.m. wake-up times here!

Fast-forward a little, and I was thriving. I hated measuring angles and shapes (geometry is just so evil), but I loved having my mom there to go over the problems again and again and again until I finally got it. I loved being able to choose what I wanted to do first - like my favorite subject, English - and what time I did it. My mom also required at least 30 minutes a day of reading, so I got to devour anything from Harry Potter to Jane Austen during school time.

Related: 7 Teacher-Recommended Ways to Keep Kids Motivated While Virtually Learning

Tips For Keeping Kids Motivated While Homeschooling
Tips For Keeping Kids Motivated While Homeschooling

When I wasn't doing homework, which only took about three to four hours a day in high school, I was hanging out with my other homeschooled friends, going to soccer practice, taking tae kwon do or ballroom dancing classes, going to church, or taking off-season vacations with my family. (For future reference: going to Disneyland, or the beach, or almost anywhere else is much cheaper and less crowded in October or January, as opposed to June through August when everyone is off school.) I even got to dress up and attend homecoming dances and prom, which was a glamorous evening out at a nice hotel in downtown Dallas, not a couple of kids in someone's living room like people might think. On top of that, I graduated high school at 16 and was ready to go to college, then grad school, while joining campus organizations, traveling the world, making friends, getting married, and squashing all the "homeschool kids are different" stereotypes along the way.

Everyone homeschools for different reasons, and homeschooling is not for everyone. That's OK. Right now, many are choosing to homeschool to keep their kids safe in light of a global pandemic, even though they are also working from home. Others might homeschool due to religious reasons or to prepare their kids for college or because they didn't like their own school experience and want to do something different for their kids. The reason my mom did - and why I want to follow in her footsteps - is simple. It's a chance to spend quality time with my kids, showing them how awesome learning can be firsthand.

Although my oldest is only 3 years old, I have already started homeschooling him. I've done some preschool workbooks with him, read to him, taken him on field trips to the zoo, and taught him about nature on our daily walks. See, homeschooling isn't about being the smartest person in the room (I'm definitely not) or knowing how to come up with the perfect lesson plan. It's about being there for your kids, learning how to solve the toughest problems together, paying attention to their needs, and giving them the freedom to grow and learn.

I may homeschool my kids for a few years, then enroll them in high school when the time comes, or they may be in homeschool until college, like I was. My kids will lead the way, based on their needs. I'm just along for the ride, ready to guide them, help them, research with them, and advocate for them every step of the way. And when it comes time for math homework? They can take those to their dad. There is a solution to everything!

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