To homeschool or not to homeschool, that is the question

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

I never expected to homeschool my son.

Zander is the youngest of my three kids. I’ve already been through the traditional rigamarole with my two daughters (twins about to start their junior year of college). I figured that Zander would pretty much follow suit: go to a four year high school, play on the water polo team, and then head to college.

Then he got recruited to play water polo in Barcelona for his sophomore year of high school. He was ecstatic, so we made plans for him to spend the year abroad and study at an international school. It wasn’t what I had been used to, but it was a great plan and Zander wanted to go more than anything! 

But COVID-19 threw us all for a loop! Suddenly, in addition to finishing his freshman year via distance learning, the possibility of heading to Barcelona to start school in September was up in the air.

I found myself considering an option I had only recently warmed up to myself: homeschooling. When I began homeschooling a student last year at empowerED, the undeniable benefits emerged and quickly changed my mindset dispelling the negative stigma I had always carried.

I quickly started seeing the benefits of tutoring/teaching and distance learning, through our new homeSCHOOL+ program and I started to seriously consider homeschooling Zander . 

I grew up thinking that homeschooling was a little strange, something off the beaten path and if you know me, you know I used to always play it safe and walk down that “safe” and familiar road.  Needless to say things have significantly changed for me and considering all the uncertainty in the world right now I came to terms that nothing, including education, will ever look the same again. Veering off the path is much easier for me now.

By now I am well-versed in the extensive benefits of homeschooling, and after weighing all our options we decided to homeschool Zander until he can get to Barcelona.  In May we decided to give it a whirl and get a head start.  Zander works on Geometry for an hour a day, four days a week with Maddy, a recent UC Berkeley graduate in Applied Mathematics.  He has also begun working with Jesslyn for his Chemistry class.  She, too, is a UC Berkeley graduate who majored in Molecular and Cell Biology.  Honestly, I have found this to be a win win situation.  Zander’s consistent time with Maddy and Jesslyn provides  Zander with both the ability to learn the content at his own pace and challenge himself daily. 

As an Educational Therapist I firmly believe school is about the learning process, not just about a grade. Although I do recognize the importance of good grades if a student plans on matriculating to college. I find when a student understands how they learn best (metacognition) and truly processes the information, high grades naturally fall into place. Seeing how much Zander has grown academically these past few months and watching our first homeSCHOOL+ student at empowerED  has made me a homeschool convert given the right situation. 

In these past few months, I’ve seen Zander totally on top of his academic game. He takes his time on his work and actually processes the information the first time, rather than requiring constant repetition for mastery.

I want to be clear: I’m not bashing teachers at all. They are under so much pressure, especially now. They’re absolutely doing their best especially considering the amount (or lack there) of time to prepare for their unprecedented task. I have seen distance  learning be quite successful for some of  my clients, however there are a handful of students requiring more specific attention. 

Even though I’m a professional educational therapist, it was important for me to not work with Zander myself. It’s crucial for kids to be held accountable to people other than their parents. Fights can arise if the parents were to assume this burden of schooling. Best to separate church and state, if you will!

But now more than ever, flexibility is important. Why not help kids learn in a manner best for them?

Zander’s also not at risk of losing any social interaction with kids his own age. His water polo practices (whether in LA or in Barcelona — fingers crossed!) keep him active and social. When considering homeschooling, it’s extremely important to maintain these social and physical aspects of traditional schooling.

While we’re still not sure exactly what the future holds, Zander has hinted he is not married to the idea of returning to a traditional highschool.  Whether he’s in Barcelona or being homeschooled, Zander is proof alternative teaching methods should not be disregarded in fact these alternative teachings may actually prove to me highly beneficial. Don’t take it from me, do your research!

Homeschooling isn’t such a crazy idea after all! Stay safe and healthy everyone!

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