Sometimes the road to homeschooling can take many turns. Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone, and it can feel like an overwhelming and huge decision. We ask families around the country to share their experience as part of our ongoing How We Homeschool series.
Heather Aaron is a virtual assistant specializing in Pinterest management for online businesses, bloggers, and e-commerce sellers. It took a few bumpy years in public school until she and her family felt ready to homeschool. The results were surprising.
How did your homeschool journey start?
I have a long list of reasons, but my son’s anxiety was at the top of my list. I actually always wanted to homeschool since way before I even got pregnant.
When my son started Kindergarten and I saw the way that the kids were pushed to do things that they weren’t developmentally ready for, like reading fluently by the end of kindergarten, that’s when I really started seriously considering homeschooling. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t on board with it and we kept our son in public school through the end of 4th grade.
What was school like for your son?
My son developed terrible anxiety beginning in Kindergarten and would refuse to go to school, very often saying he was sick even when he wasn’t. He would refuse to get out of bed. Once when the bus pulled up to take him to Kindergarten he started running and I had to chase him!
There were tantrums and lots of tears (for both of us). He spent a lot of time at home, sometimes weeks at a time, and it was tough to have to explain to his school why he wasn’t there. It felt like he always had to make up his work and he was getting far behind.
I had all these dreamy homeschooling ideas that we’d be going to co-ops, group outings, and field trips.
When did you start homeschool?
In the summer prior to the start of 5th grade, I asked him if he was excited to go back to school in the fall. I was already thinking of pulling him out and I thought that if he even had just a tiny bit of excitement for going back that I wouldn’t even push the subject. But he said he wasn’t happy to go back at all. He wanted to homeschool. Since we have been homeschooling, his school anxiety has completely resolved.
What has inspired you in your homeschool?
What inspires me is seeing my son learning. I watch him go from not understanding a concept to experiencing the lightbulb moments of him totally getting what he’s learning is the most amazing thing! I was missing all of that when he was in public school.
That’s another reason I wanted to homeschool him. Each year it was getting harder and harder to know exactly what he was learning each day. I felt completely left out of this huge part of his life. The school wouldn’t even send tests home. You had to make an appointment to come in to review any of the tests that you wanted to see. Now I get to see everything as it’s happening and it’s amazing.
How did family/friends respond?
My mother was my number one supporter and she actually is very involved. I work from home and she comes over 3-4 days per week to work with him and help him during the hours that I’m working.
My husband wasn’t too thrilled about us making this choice and he even wanted to put him back into public school after only one year of homeschooling, but I’ve been able to get my husband to come around a bit.
As for other friends and family, I got a lot of concern about “socialization,” which is what every homeschool family deals with in one way or another. My side of the family has been very good and supportive of everything. They ask questions and I don’t feel any judgement from them.
My husband’s family hasn’t been quite as supportive. I haven’t spoken to them directly about it, but he told me they had some very definite negative opinions of it when we started. They just kind of avoid the subject when we’re around, but I’d be happy to talk to them about it at any time.
What has been a surprise in your homeschool?
I am surprised at what it looks like for us and our family. I had all these dreamy homeschooling ideas that we’d be going to co-ops, group outings, and field trips. I thought I’d meet lots of other homeschool families and that we’d make all these new friends. But all of that was not our experience.
We don’t have too many groups or co-ops around here and we haven’t met many local homeschoolers. The one co-op that is somewhat nearby wasn’t a fit for us and my son didn’t want to try another group. Because I have to work, I haven’t really found much time for field trips during the week, so we haven’t done that as much as I would like.
My son is very much like me. He’s an introvert and although he loves being around people and being out of the house, he only likes to do it here and there, not all the time. I struggled with this because it didn’t fit what I thought we should be doing. Once I embraced the type of people we are, everything fell into place and now we’re really comfortable with what we’re doing.
What curriculum do you use?
I don’t tend to stick to one type of curriculum. I like piecing together what we use, based on what my son needs. Here’s what we’re using this year.
- Math – Math Mammoth
- Science – Mystery Science, unit studies, and hands-on experiments that I find online
- History – unit studies, various textbooks, plus online videos and online research
- Writing – Building Writers from Learning Without Tears
- Typing – Typing.com
- Spelling – Soaring With Spelling
- Italian – Babbel.com
- Big Life Journal for mindset
- Art, Music, Health, Gym/Exercise, and Life Skills – I make this up as we go along and try to incorporate these throughout the week
What tips can you offer parents who are new and/or struggling with homeschool?
I’d say that you have to give yourself a good amount of time, at least the first homeschooling year, to get to know how your child learns and how homeschooling is going to work best for your family.
If you’re struggling or your kids are struggling, just keep trying and change things up till you find what works. If that means throwing out the “amazing” math curriculum that everyone said works best for their kids and you thought would work great for yours, then do that. There is so much available to homeschoolers now that it’s not worth pushing something that isn’t working.
Also, ignore any nay-sayers or people who don’t support you. Simply do not discuss the homeschool subject around anyone who isn’t supportive.
Describe your business, what inspired you to start?
I was inspired to start this business because I always wanted to work for myself. When I was working my last corporate job I was able to work from home full-time. I loved the freedom and flexibility that working from home gave me. Once I was downsized, I did not want to go back to working in an office and having a commute. Plus, I find that it’s so much easier to homeschool when I have that control over my schedule.
As for the work itself, I took the time to figure out exactly the type of work that I’d be happiest doing because I spent way too much time doing work that made me miserable. Life is too short for that! When you’re happy with the work you do, it doesn’t feel as much like work. I always loved Pinterest just for fun, but when I learned that you could build a business helping other people utilize it for their businesses and blogs, I knew that’s what I needed to be doing. You can find me online at www.facebook.com/heatheraaronvirtual or https://heatheraaronvirtual.com/. For a limited time, I’m offering a free 15 minute Pinterest business account mini audit in exchange for a testimonial.