Homeschool Reflections

We are wrapping up our first year of homeschooling and I wanted to share my reflections with you. I know that many people are considering homeschooling next year due to the pandemic, but our family is planning to send the kids to school. Tune in to hear the things I loved about homeschool and the parts I struggled with as well.

SHOW NOTES/SHOW LINKS

Hi there. Welcome to episode 223. Today. We're talking about homeschooling. I've had many, many people reaching out recently with questions about homeschooling. I know there are an increasing number of families who are looking into this for the fall due to the pandemic. So I'm going to share a little bit more about our experience, the likes, the dislikes, the good, the bad and the ugly. Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

Hey, there Denaye here. It's episode 223. And today I am talking about homeschooling. I'm going to share a little bit more about my experience over the past year. I want to preface this by saying this is going to be sort of a rambling overview of our homeschooling and educational experience thus far. So bear with me. And I will also say that I am incredibly privileged to be able to have options for my kids' education, but before we get into that, here's a word from today's sponsor. The sponsor for today is Prep Dish. My family and I have been using Prep Dish for about two years now, since I first discovered them. And I will tell you that I was skeptical at first. I didn't think a meal planning service was something that I needed. There are an abundance of recipes out there. Why do I need someone to curate them for me?

Well, Prep Dish makes it so easy. Not only do they send you recipes every week, but they also send you the methodology to prepare the recipes in advance. So each week we do a Prep Day and I usually arrange it for a time that my husband's home, so he can help me since he's not usually there during the dinner time hour hustle. So we do a lot of the prep in advance and Prep Dish makes it so easy for that to happen. Then on Dish Day, when I'm going to serve the meal, it only takes me 10 or 15 minutes to get it on the table. Prep Dish has streamlined the way that we feed our family. And I'm so grateful for it. If you want to give it a try, go to prepdish.com/families. You'll get two weeks for free. Again, that's prepdish.com/families. Okay, back to today's episode before we get started, though, I want to tell you that we are starting a brand new round of the mental unload on June 25th. Registration is now open. If you want to grab your spot, go to simplefamilies.com/unload. If you're not familiar with the mental unload, the mental unload is the program that I run three times a year to declutter your mental space.

As parents life can feel really heavy. And this is a step-by-step program that will help you declutter your busy brain. I've led thousands of moms through this program and the feedback and reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I'd love to have you go to simplefamilies.com/unload in light of the pandemic and the economic crisis. I want to try to make this affordable for those who are in need right now. So I am offering a coupon code for this round, which I haven't done before. So that coupon code is "MUL062". And that's for 20% off. Now let's talk about homeschooling. I'm just going to go ahead and start at the beginning. For those of you who've been listening to the podcast for a while, know that last year in episode 157, I announced that our family had made the decision to homeschool for the upcoming year.

Now, my son was in the process of entering kindergarten and my daughter is still in preschool. So really I was just going to be homeschooling my kindergartener, which many seasoned homeschoolers will tell you. That's not really even homeschooling at all because it is really light. And there's not as much of a commitment from an academic standpoint. I think it makes the most sense to start from the beginning and just walk you through the year. And I've been pretty quiet about this over the course of the past year, because I'm really just trying to reflect and develop an opinion on the process and see if it is a good fit for my family. So we're just in the process of wrapping up the first full year. So I feel like it's time to report back now, especially because I am getting an increasing amount of questions from different members of the simple families community who are for the first time thinking about homeschooling their kids due to the pandemic.

So I'll talk a little bit about pandemic schooling as well. Now, if you want to hear our full story about our decision to homeschool, you can go back to 157 that simplefamilies.com/episode157, but it'll give you the short of it. I never planned to homeschool my kids. I have a PhD in early childhood education and development, and although I didn't want to homeschool, I had some pretty particular views of how I wanted school to look for my kids. And the main reason for not wanting to homeschool is that I really love working. And I really love having a career. And I really thrive when I have ample time each day away from my kids, focusing on other things that are important to me too, like my work and Simple Families, because if I know anything about parenting and child behavior, it's that our children are our mirrors.

Their emotions are reflective of ours and the healthier, and the more supported we feel the healthier and more supported that they are going to feel. You can't have one without other. Our kids' happiness depends on us seeking out and finding our own happiness too. So if you want to go way, way back, I was a brand new mom and I was living in Dallas, Texas, and I was looking for a moms group or some sort of activity to get my son involved in. And we lived basically across the street from a Montessori school that had like a mommy and me class. And I signed up for it because it was the cheapest thing available. It was like half the price of the Gymboree. And I didn't know anything about Montessori at the time, even though my educational background is in child development, Montessori just, wasn't something that we studied.

So I wandered into the school registered for the class and it was completely life-changing. It turns out that this is one of the premier Montessori schools in the country, the school that trains all of the other teachers. So without going too far into details about accreditations and licensing, just give you kind of a quick and dirty on it. So every preschool and daycare is required to be licensed. That means it meets the minimum requirements to operate based on each state. Now, schools can go above that and get what are called accreditations, which means they meet even higher guidelines. There's lots of different accreditations and they're not all created equal. Some school can pretty much just pay for others. The teachers have to get extra trainings. They have to have inspections of the schools. There it's a more rigorous process. So Montessori in specific has a few different accrediting bodies.

This school that we were at was an AMI school. That means it was accredited by the Association of Montessori International. Now AMI schools are fairly standardized. They have a lot of rules that they follow. Every school has a different flavor and a different atmosphere, but generally speaking, the supplies and the methodologies are pretty standard. So you can go from one to the other and know what you're expecting. Now, the other big accrediting body in Montessori is AMS, which is the American Montessori Society. And I'm not an expert on these accreditations, but from my reading and understanding, AMI is a bit more traditional the way that Maria Montessori intended it to be an AMS has a bit more of an American twist on it. It leaves a little bit more open to interpretation. So you'll find a little bit more variation between schools than you will with AM and I hope I'm not misspeaking on any of that because I'm definitely not an expert on Montessori accreditations.

So needless to say, we spent three years involved with the school. We went from the mommy and me program to the toddler program, to the preschool or primary program. And it was a dream. It was truly amazing. I met some of the most amazing educators. The school went all the way through 12th grades. We have kept our kids there all the way and probably been super happy, but we moved, we moved to New York when my son was three and a half and my daughter was 18 months. And at that point, the bar was really high. We had come from this amazing setting and I wanted that again. And we live rather rurally in New York, so we didn't have as many options. So I visited a couple of schools and ended up going for an AMS school.

And we enrolled the kids there. It was fine. It was just fine. I was kind of underwhelmed. And I don't know if it was because of the particular teacher that we had that year or because I was just in the middle of kind of a traumatic move across the country and loss of my community. But overall, we just decided we did not want to stay there. So at that point I started thinking about homeschool.

And did you think that it was driven by these ideals images of what I wanted education to be like for my kids? You know, one of them to spend hours everyday playing in nature. I wanted them to play with all wooden toys. I wanted them to be exclusively with teachers who were trained in positive, effective techniques at managing behavior.

Sometimes the more, you know, the more complicated things get. So I was looking for schools that checked all of these boxes and I just wasn't finding what I was looking for. So after we finished the year at the Montessori school in New York, wasn't going to send them back the following year. And it would have been my son's last year of preschool. At that point, they were both going three and a half hours in the morning. And I was just working in the morning while they were at school and I had almost an hour commute each way. So I really wasn't getting that much time getting work done. And it felt very stressful trying to work sort of the equivalent of a full-time job in two and a half hours a day. It was getting up really early of staying up late at night. And that time to do work just really wasn't enough for me.

And it was causing a lot of stress. I felt like I wasn't really with my kids when I was with them. I was thinking about work. And when I was working, I was thinking about my kids and I know that many, many parents go through that same sensation and that same internal struggle. Therefore, at my son's last year preschool, I knew I wanted him to have some social exposure that year he's an incredibly social kid, loves to be around. Others loves meeting new friends.

So I put him in the local nursery school which was the closest one I could find to our house, and remember that I had these super idealized images of what I wanted school to look like for my kids. So I pull up to the school and I certainly hope they're not listening to this because I don't mean any disservice to the school, but the playground was really small and old and there's a lot of broken stuff on it. I went into the classroom and the first thing that I saw was this huge TV and my heart almost stopped and like, Oh no, I don't want them to any screen time. I don't want them to have any free time at school. You know, it's just this, you know, searching for perfection. And the classroom was pretty cluttered with toys. And I mean, they had like this giant bin of Mardi Gras beads, a lot of Mardi Gras beads.

I don't know why, like one or two strings one have done the trick, but overall it was pretty much everything. I didn't want in the school or pretty much everything that perfection chasing Denaye didn't want it at school, but it was only nine hours a week, three hours, three afternoons a week. And I wanted my son to have some social exposure. It wasn't super expensive. And I really, really liked the teachers and the administrator when I met them. So I said, you know what, I'm just going to do it, even though it's not perfect, I'm going to send them anyways.

So I did. And he had an amazing year. The teachers were lovely. He got to play and play and play some more, or I couldn't have been happier about my experience. And I decided to send my daughter the following year for her three program. It was such a vital learning experience for me, the fact that maybe things don't always look the way you think they have to look and they can still be good. I actually had a conversation a month or two ago with a local mom who was looking for a preschool for her kid. And she was kind of sorting through these same things in her brain. And she had these really high standards and expectations about what she wanted school to look like. It sounded and felt so familiar to the way that I fell in a couple of years ago. And I told her my experience about sending her, the kids to the local nursery school and how I was really underwhelmed at first.

But we ended up having an amazing experience there. And she said to me, she's like, you know, I'm just not really ready to lower the bar yet. And I paused and reflected on that for a minute. And I told her, I was like, you know, I actually don't think I lowered the bar. I think I just changed the bar instead of looking for this perfect natural place space in beautiful wooden toys in a serene environment. I was looking for a place that my kids would love to be, a place where they felt accepted and they felt loved and embraced a place that they would be happy. And that's what we found in the nursery school. So in retrospect, I don't feel like they lowered my bar when it comes to education. I feel like I just changed it and I started looking for different things.

So now you're probably wondering how this all ties into homeschooling. So after my son finished his preschool program, I knew that I wasn't quite ready to send him to public school kindergarten. Yet we live in a hyper competitive area and I just wanted him to be able to learn at his own pace. And in the way that suited him best, all of the private schools were out of our price range. And here in New York, we have amazing, amazing natural beauty and preserves. And we also have access to the city an hour away on the train.

So what better place in the world to really learn through our environment, to learn out in the world? So we decided we were going to homeschool. We're going to try it for kindergarten. Now, the thing I knew I needed to be successful as a homeschooling parent was lots of support. I still wanted to work. I still wanted to be able to work full-time or close to full-time. So for that to happen, we have an AU pair, which is a young person from abroad that comes for a year to take care of the kids. So right now we have our second AU pair. Our first AU pair came when I signed my book contract. And for the year that I wrote my book to support me through that process, I'd have plenty of time to write and to work and also to be with the kids. And we brought our second AU pair after the first one left after she finished her year.

And the second one came in August, Mel, and she's been here, she's getting ready, almost ready to finish her year with us now, for the people who follow me really really closely you'll know that we did have another, Au pair a third AU pair for just a month last summer, and actually had someone recently in a podcast review say that they were a little bit upset that I didn't explain why she only stayed a month. So for anyone who is dying of curiosity, well, she wrecked our car on the first day and we decided we needed a more experienced driver. So she went to another family that didn't need a driver that lived in the city. I'm on like a million tangents in this episode today that brings us to the beginning of our homeschool year in August. We welcomed Mel to our family. She got settled in, and my plan was that I was going to be homeschooling the kids in the morning until about 10 or 11.

And then she would take over and spend the afternoons with the kids. She would be able to help support me with the social stuff, driving them to activities and that sort of thing, to get them out of the house. And I'd have plenty of time to focus on my work and feel totally supported and all in all, it's been wonderful. I have loved, loved homeschooling. My now six-year-old, we have a really close connection and bond, and we work really well together. And teaching him how to read has just been really delightful. I've loved it. One of the big criticisms of homeschooling is that there isn't enough socialization or how did the kids get socialized? And that question doesn't make a ton of sense to me because we were super social. We were always out and about doing things, getting out of the house. He was always talking to adults, kids of other ages.

There certainly was not a lack of social opportunities. What I did find was a lack of true community. Now this is just my own individual experience based on where I live and the people in the vicinity of our house, this is going to look very different for everyone in every community. Although there were ample social opportunities for us, it kind of felt like every time we went to a homeschool event that we were showing up at a party where we didn't know anyone, or we were showing up at a party where we maybe knew one person.

Now, there are plenty of ongoing homeschool communities. There's actually a lot of organizations close to my house here that start around like second or third grade, more drop-off organizations and more consistent community-based organizations, but not for the age that my kids are at this year. So for the most part, from a social perspective, I often felt like I was showing up at these events and meeting everyone for the first time. Or maybe I met someone like four months ago and then it was meeting them again. And we were kind of getting reacquainted and I like meeting new people. And my kids like meeting new people. My son, especially he's. So social loves to meet new friends, but I'll tell you that doing this week after week is exhausting. Like you just want to have friends that you can feel comfortable with and that you can relax with and be authentic with.

And it was probably like we started in August. It's probably like around November where he started to ask, who are we going to see when we would go to an event? And I would say, well, I think that, you know, Joe will be there and John will be there, but I'm not exactly sure who's going to be there. And he would look a little bit sad. And I started to notice that he was really craving that consistent community. Just as much as I was, we had been doing a weekly nature meetup that I was organizing and Monday afternoons and we were developing a nice little community, but it was only one afternoon a week.

So, I decided around November that we were going to add a second meeting. We were going to meet up on Fridays at our house and that brought us to two meetings each week with the same families. And it really felt like we were starting to develop this little consistent community, but it was a lot of work on my part to organize those events, to plan the activities every week and truth be told, it's just not what I want to be doing. I was really only doing it for the sake of my son. And I was starting to feel a little bit annoyed and not enjoying the actual organization and the commitment to providing the activities and that sort of thing. It just, like I said, wasn't the way that I wanted to be spending my time. If I'm being perfectly honest,.

I really wanted that community for my son, but I didn't want to be the one arranging and organizing and making that community happen. And the tricky part about homeschooling is that most people homeschool because they want the flexibility and they want to be able to do what they want to do when they want to do it. But the flip side of that coin is flakiness. So you never know who's going to come to any activity on any given day because they have that flexibility. So if your kids are really looking forward to having such and such friend over on Friday and the friend's baby sister is taking a nap, then they're probably not coming. So I found in my personal experience that the flexibility of homeschooling also led to a lot of flakiness kind of unpredictability of a social environment for my kids. And I feel like it's important to talk about me and my experience of the homeschooling process because homeschooling is a family affair and in order for it to be good and to feel good and to be effective, everybody has to really be on board and enjoying it.

Therefore, I don't really think that any parent who's homeschooling should be doing it because they don't have any other choice. They should really want to be homeschooling. And that's what I promised to be really honest with myself about, do I really want to be doing this? And what I was finding was that I really honestly wanted to be doing the one-on-one work with my kids. I love that part. I just didn't want to be doing the socializing and the community building parts, which are really important, especially when kids are young. That part to me felt exhausting. And frankly, I just wanted to spend that time working rather than doing those things. So overall, the things that I really loved about homeschooling, where the ability to really set our own rules, we had some kids that really liked to play rowdy, and we could let them do that.

We could spend as much time outside as we wanted. We could go to any park, any nature, preserve any museum, name it any time. We could also pick a curriculum that fit my kids specifically that would help them to thrive from an academic standpoint. And we did that. And overall, my son is doing so well. So I'll spend a few minutes talking about curriculum and what we used this year, what worked for us and what didn't work for us. This is, again, something that's going to look very different for every family. I did a lot of research on homeschool curriculums, and I will tell you that picking a homeschool curriculum may feel like a big thing and may feel really hard and complicated, but the homeschool curriculum and the actual academic educational part of homeschooling, I found to be the easy part. I think managing the behavior and the relationship, the parent child relationship that comes with homeschooling is kind of another beast because it's a lot now back to the curriculum I had been reading and just soaking in everything from a company called Oak meadow, who so much aligns with simple families and the philosophies and theories that underlie my work here.

I loved Oak meadow. I loved their philosophies. I loved everything about them. And so we bought the curriculum for kindergarten and we're onboard for using it. And we only made it about three weeks in. Here's why it's a week by week seasonal curriculum. So it starts in September and takes you all the way through June. And in kindergarten, you start September on letter A, then let her B, then letter C, one letter a week. And if you fall behind, then you're really behind. And it gets to be really confusing. So we took a two week trip at the end of September, beginning of October, and I immediately got two weeks behind. And once I fell two weeks behind on this week by week seasonal curriculum, I was just done. Like there was no getting back on board for me. I was like, all right, well, we're still in the fall.

And they're in winter since a lot of it's nature-based, it made it really hard to kind of pull it all together. So if you are someone that is going to live or die, get it done every single week and never fall behind. Then I think a curriculum like this could work, but otherwise for us, a curriculum that just focused on a certain number of lessons each year, and you could really do them at any time that worked for you. That was a much better fit. So we loved everything about Oak meadow other than the fact that I got behind and I just couldn't keep up with it. So we put it aside and we really focused on a reading curriculum, a math curriculum, and a nature based curriculum. The reading curriculum that we use is all about reading, which is based in a philosophy called Orton Gillingham, which is a systematic more phonics type approach to learning how to read.

It's really great for struggling readers. And we do have a history of reading disorders in our family. So I knew I wanted to use an approach like this when teaching my kids to read. And we've loved all about reading. It's been awesome. We actually just finished level one, took us a full year. We started actually that we started early in July and we're just finishing now at the end of June. And we'll be moving on to level two shortly after. So for kindergarten, we focused on all about reading level one. We focused on Matthew C, which I didn't even actually plan to add math in until the second half of the year until my son was six. He turned six around the holidays. So I was waiting until he was six because I just wasn't in much of a hurry. So we didn't really start math until January.

And the other curriculum that we used was exploring nature with children, which has a Charlotte Mason based curriculum and exploring nature with children was the one that I used a lot for planning our activities for our Monday and Friday community group. Overall, I was really happy with that combination. It worked great for us and the year was going well, but around the holidays, I just had this revelation that we were finding a really good balance. I was working with the kids until 10 or 11 in the morning. And then Mel would take the kids. They'd often go to story time at the library at 10:30, or they do some other activity directed towards young children that my son being in kindergarten, he could still kind of tag along at, but I just had this sinking feeling that it was going to be harder to sustain that as he got older, that he was going to need more from me from an academic standpoint and more from me from a social standpoint, making sure that he's has that consistent community.

And that started feeling like a lot of pressure. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to provide these things and balancing that with this idea that I still really wanted to work and have a career. And I didn't know, even with having the support of a childcare provider, if I was going to be able to do both and to balance both, and I do have a history of taking on way too much and getting overloaded and trying to do everything. And I felt myself slipping back into those patterns. And I knew that that's not where he wanted to be overwhelmed, trying to do it all, trying to be everything for my kids and in my career. And I knew that I needed to do something different. So, after the holidays, I started looking around and investigating schools a little bit more, and we found a small private school, about a half an hour from our house that was within our budget.

And we went to visit and we loved it. I will say that it's not perfect by any means. It definitely doesn't check all of my idealized boxes, but it's warm and nurturing. The classes are small. The kids get plenty of recess. It feels like a big family. So we visited and we'd love the administrators. It's a really small, independent school, which if you're not familiar with an independent school, it's a school that doesn't have religious affiliation. And we really liked it a lot more diversity than our local public school. The class sizes were really small, like nine or 10 kids in a class. They for, I went back and I spent some time observing in the kindergarten classroom. And I spent some time observing in the first grade classroom because we were thinking about sending him in the fall into first grade and sending my daughter into their preschool program.

So I first met him in the kindergarten classroom and the teacher was warm and engaging and it looked like a lot of fun. First grade felt more academic kids were sitting at the table. They were doing writing activities. And I just had this feeling that I wanted him to go into school, having fun and loving it. I was worried if he started off his school career in first grade, he might feel like it was a little boring. Who knows? Maybe not. So mid February, we enrolled him and he was overjoyed, jumped right in loved, loved building with the other kids, thrived in the community. And we were still doing our homeschooling stuff at home. Cause it really only took about 45 minutes. So he's an early riser. We would get up in the morning and do our work just like we had been doing all along.

And then I would take him to school. So I was still doing kind of this hybrid of trying to finish out your homeschooling and sending them to camp garden. And it was an amazing three and a half weeks until the pandemic struck. And then all of a sudden we were homeschooling and distance learning. Distance learning was so wrong for us. I'd like to say that I gave it a good effort and I don't even know that I did. I just knew based on knowing my kid, that he doesn't do well with a lot of screen time. So watching a video of a teacher, reading a book, just wasn't going to work for us. So we tried it for a couple of weeks. Um, we were still doing our homeschooling stuff and trying to add onto some of the distance learning stuff from the school.

And we just ended up being all the distance learning stuff. And he was going to his daily zoom class, connecting with his friends. And interestingly, even though that's all he was doing was jumping on every day, talking to his friends on zoom for a half an hour. He felt really connected to them. And he looked forward to this time and to this connection and to this community. So he only really spent three and a half weeks in the classroom and then another three or three and a half months on zoom. But in many ways it feels like those zoom sessions really helped to get him through the past couple of months. But from an academic standpoint, our homeschool work just was so much better for his learning experience as compared to the distance learning activities. So that's what we really focused on. And he was definitely thriving in that perspective, a few reflections on being a homeschool parent, if you've been distance learning with your kid, you've kind of been a homeschool parent, but you haven't really been in some ways your kids' education is on your shoulders, but in some ways it's still on the shoulders of the teacher too.

It feels like a lot of weight to carry, to carry the education of your kids. And I didn't fully realize this until we were touring the schools in January and they were telling me, I had just literally within a couple of weeks, started doing some basic math with my kindergarten. And they told me that they work a year ahead in math. So the kindergarten we're actually doing first grade math. So he would be behind if he came in and I don't even know if they actually used the word behind something along the lines of catch-up. And I think that my heart skipped a beat. I started telling myself he's behind and it's your fault, which is absurd. It's absolutely ridiculous because he wasn't behind or should be doing kindergarten math.

First graders should be doing First grade math. He certainly wasn't behind. But to have someone tell me that, that, you know, he's behind and as a homeschooling parent, the reason that he's behind clearly must be my fault. Think that motherly instinct to blame yourself comes forward. And I became acutely aware of the responsibility that I was carrying in his education. And he wasn't sure that I wanted all that responsibility as a mom. I have so much other responsibility, you know, keeping them alive, keeping them fed and bathed, getting them to bed, nurturing their emotional wellbeing, and now taking on full responsibility for their education too.

It's just, it is a lot. And I, and I don't think that it's something I fully wrapped my head around, but if you're someone like me who puts a lot of pressure on yourself and struggles with stepping pack and relaxing, even when you know better than you may feel that way too, I think that homeschooling has to be something that's really right for you in your heart. It's where you want to be. It's where you want to be spending your time. It's what you want to be doing. And if that's true, I think that you can make it work. And I think it can be amazing. And I'm just not sure that that's true for me right now. I'm just not sure that's where my heart is. I think my heart is in my work and my career and really developing a healthy balance outside of the home.

I spent a long time as a martyr thinking, I could do everything and be everything and making myself sick over it that I just now, I don't want to go back there. I do not want to be that person again. I have to nurture my own mental health. I have to nurture my own wellbeing in order to do that for my kids. There's no such thing as just doing something for your kids to make them happy. If you only care about your kids' happiness and you're sacrificing your own happiness for your kids' happiness, it's going to come out in your relationship. I don't truly believe there's such thing as a selfless parent. I think if you're acting selflessly and you're acting as a martyr on behalf of your kids, that it is going to surface in your relationship. You may see resentment and frustration and contempt because as an adult, you're a human and you have needs too.

When you have to make sure that you're meeting your own needs in order to properly meet the needs of your kids in particular, the emotional needs. Because like I said, picking a curriculum and actually teaching your kids is a small part of homeschooling managing the relationship. And the behavior piece is a whole another part that I think more parents struggle with, managing the behavior and the relationship piece is huge and so important. So where does this bring us next year? Now, when I first read the CDC guidelines, I said, Oh, no way, no, am I sending my kids to a school where they're all facing forward and they're wearing masks and not allowed to touch each other. Right? Those all felt really scary to me. And I said, well, I'll just keep homeschooling. That's easy enough. Well, our AU pair is leaving in August and the kids are scheduled to start school in September.

My daughter's going to be starting to, and I will be so low if I do decide to homeschool them. And I know, and my husband knows he's already communicated this to me. That if that is the case, if I do decide to homeschool the kids in the fall, and that becomes more or less, my full-time gig that I am not going to be my best self. I'm not going to be able to be the parent I want to be. If I have to completely put my kids' needs above mine in every way, shape and form. So in the fall being full-time homeschool mom, isn't what I want for me. And it's not something I want for my kids, because if I do that, I know that I am going to be grumpy. I'm going to be irritable. I'm going to be impatient. And it's going to make the academic piece all that much harder because of it. So I'm constantly being mindful about meeting my own needs for the sake of my kids.

And I'm not sure what we're going to do in the fall. I hope that the restrictions aren't really that rigorous and that it can feel enjoyable and that the kids can play. And I know there's a lot of people who've been saying that they'll keep their kids home and homeschool for the year, rather than send them in that type of environment. But I also don't think keeping them home for another year is necessarily going to nurture their mental health. Either. They've already been home for several months. If they stay home for the next year, it's unlikely that we're going to be able to go to museums and have outings and be involved in activities the same way that we would otherwise. So this is a long roundabout way of saying that I am planning on sending my kids to school in the fall. Could that change?

Yes, probably. Would I maybe homeschool again someday? Yes, absolutely. If we had the right type of community supports available and I had the right type of supports available to make sure that I was able to pursue what I wanted to pursue for myself, then yes, I do think that's a possibility, but right now, based on the needs of my kids and based on the needs of my work school feels like the right decision for us. And I'm excited for my kids to have that community. I think I've learned through this pandemic, the importance of community and how lonely it feels without it. So that's something that is really a priority for us, at least right now, but I'm always open to teaching my mind. But again, it has to work for everybody in the family, not just for my kids, but has to work for the adults too. So, if you've learned anything from this episode, it's that you are allowed change your mind as your kids grow and change, and as your needs grow and change, educational circumstances might change too. Don't lock yourself in to any one way, shape or form. Thanks for tuning in this has been episode 223. I'll put the links to some of the things we talked about in the show notes at simplefamilies.com/episode 223 Thanks again.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.