With the school year quickly approaching, many parents and students alike are concerned with the challenges at home learning may pose. Regan, a voice and piano instructor at our Grandview and Westerville locations, gave us a bit of insight into her own experience with homeschooling and how it impacted her journey as an individual, a student, and a musician.
What do you remember fondly about your homeschooling experience?
There are so many things I remember fondly! I think if I had to choose a couple of elements I remember best, they would have to be the fun “outside of the schedule” trips that were both educational and fun – like trips out on a nature trail, or to a chocolate factory – and my musical experiences with a non-profit homeschool organization that allowed me to join a choir, which heavily influenced my decision to become a singer and music instructor.
What did a typical day look like for you?
While everyone’s homeschooling schedule is different, I was personally on a schedule where I always woke up at 7:00am and did a chore before starting school each morning. When I was in middle school, my daily schedule was largely determined for me in terms of order of classes; however, once I reached high school, I was able to decide whether I wanted to do certain classes earlier or later. Additionally, I studied for the SAT as if it were a class when my junior year of high school came around, so I would carve out time for that by moving other projects around to different days, etc. Typically, the day would run from 8:00am-3:00pm, with an hour lunch break in the middle!
What worked well for you?
While I was not thrilled at the prospect of waking up at the same (early) time each morning, having the routine was extremely helpful and provided a reliable way to start the day. Another element of at-home study that I found necessary was the utilization of a focused workspace. While sitting in a comfy chair or couch seemed like a good idea, it almost always ended in distraction from my sister in the same room (or even falling asleep!). While reading assignments and a comfy chair were a perfect pair, any course that required writing/typing always benefited from a less-relaxed, but still calm, workspace. Participating in online courses outside of my curriculum was also extremely beneficial and allowed for a social element.
What challenges did you face and how did you work around them?
One of the main challenges I faced was my own lack of discipline to sit and work for prolonged periods in the same space in which I would’ve played games or napped at a different time of the day. Using a separate workspace – maybe delegating the kitchen as the school space, or even a patio or porch on a nice day – basically eliminated that issue! The other main challenge was actually that I was spending so much time with friends in my homeschool music program, that I had to find time to squeeze in school late at night. While I don’t regret that daytime availability to enjoy music and various activities with friends, I knew the work would be waiting for me later. My mom assigned strict homework and test deadlines, which definitely helped with that. However, she also saw the benefits of my spending time with friends and allowed me to complete work at times outside of the regular school day (thanks, Mom!).
How did a more self-paced learning environment influence your learning and way of thinking?
One of the many reasons I am so grateful for my time being homeschooled is that I learned both how to self-schedule and to use the flexibility at hand to prepare for standardized tests and other elements of college prep. I made the time to devote to the SAT, and it really paid off for me and many of my peers. The combination of learning in a structured way with the flexibility and freedom to stray from the schedule in order to experience one-of-a-kind opportunities large and small was what allowed me to approach collegiate and post-collegiate study and life in a balanced way – with structure and spontaneity!
What role did music play in your education?
Music played an extremely formative role in my education, as I was fortunate enough to live in proximity to a non-profit music organization in southeast Michigan. I can confidently say that being part of a larger group of people who love and appreciate music truly shaped and influenced my interest in singing. Not only was music a personal passion of mine, but the group gave me the opportunity to make friends with similar interests. We also competed both as an ensemble and individually at events, which was both enjoyable socially and an introduction to handling performance anxiety and learning from constructive criticism.
Many parents and students are concerned by the lack of socialization that comes with at home learning. Did you find this to be a challenge?
I have a clear memory of my very well-meaning 5th grade teacher asking me how I was going to make friends and socialize once I started homeschooling (I ended up being homeschooled from 6th-12th grade, with many friends made along the way). While that was not my experience, I understand her concern; as we face a pandemic, it is understandable and all-too-real for people of all ages to experience the isolation that being in the house much of the time can bring! As some children are perhaps beginning to see a friend or two in controlled circumstances, it may be possible to socialize within the context of school – such as an outdoor field trip or a shared science experiment – or even to have the flexibility to have a playdate with a friend when they would normally be in class. If that isn’t possible, field trips and science experiments with siblings and/or parents comprise some of my best memories of middle and high school. Variety, whether it is with siblings, a friend in a controlled environment, or a parent, truly makes the homeschool experience special!