So as you may or may not know we have been living in Tokyo for a few years. It was great, overall. We loved Tokyo – the people, the food, the city life, the weather, the gardens, just everything. However we did know that some things were missing. We were aware that homeschool itself could be better. The truth is were were unlimited as far as Japan was concerned … but we were really limited when it came to “Homeschool”.
We had so much to explore in Tokyo and throughout the Kanto Region that we really just soaked up our time there. We hit up our local English library and the librarians knew us by name. We finished shelves and shelves of books. We attended story times, engineering clubs, all the parties and events that the library had to offer. We dove into recreational soccer with other English speakers, and we explored all the nature, historic sites, cultural information that we could access in Tokyo. Oh, and did I mention we did a whole lot of theme parks? Yes, Japan does theme parks like none other. But I had to admit something was still missing.
We started homeschooling in Japan for various reasons. I never thought that I would be homeschooling. It was never some life long dream or calling that I had. It just simply happened because it was necessary, but that is for its own post.
After I had gotten into a routine of homeschool and I had watched hundreds of my favorite youtube homeschoolers sharing their advice with me I felt like I had it together. I was getting through curriculum, and not just getting it “done”. I felt like we were really learning and even dare I say it – ENJOYING school now. Educational milestones were happening. I was also at a point where I started moving away from a total boxed curriculum set. Thats when I was feeling confident that I was able to handle it and it was something that we could succeed at. Sure, once in a while you have the occasional day where you wonder if you actually “taught” them anything, but everyone has those days. Even those teaching public or private school classes have days where they feel defeated or that they could have done better. But at a certain point this just wasn’t enough.
I was feeling left out. I was feeling like my kids were left out. We had no co-op. No “group”, none of those expert homeschooling families that we could physically hang out with, get to know, or ask opinions on all things homeschooling. I kind of felt like we were the only people in the world homeschooling, even though I knew that we obviously weren’t.
I also felt like my kids didn’t really have a connection with anyone around us. That bothered me for sure. There was a birthday party here or there. But it was for kids we barely knew. Sure, there was a soccer team, but they kids were all friends at the local school in our neighborhood and they weren’t really what I would call friendly. And they had established friends already – at school. There just wasn’t anyone relatable for us.
Of course I do not think that the success of homeschool relies on making best friends. I also don’t think you have to go to the same school or play the same sport to be friends. But I do think that it helps a great deal when you are able to find at least a couple people that have a relatable experience to you. This is not only directed towards my children. It is directly towards me as a homeschooling mom. A homeschooling TEACHER. I also need someone that is relatable to speak with now and then. I like to ask others questions about what they use, how they are using it, get some tips, and actually see them face to face and see that hey “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL” from time to time.
So recently things changed. We arrived – deep in the heart of Texas! Thats right, we boarded a place from Tokyo and had our first stop in Seattle Washington. Boy was it cold there! And it was still summer. I did not pack for Seattle! Then we were onward to Texas. Of course we made a little pit-stop. Just a short few days in Ohio and then we drove down to south Texas.
I was so excited to try out Texas but I was also pretty bummed about leaving Japan. However I thought that Texas could possibly make all my homeschooling dreams come true. I had contacted several homeschooling groups and co-ops in our area before we had even arrived. We checked out their facilities and met with some families and ladies that were coordinating the groups. I had known for a while which group I wanted to join. Actually I knew for like a year – but I couldn’t make it official until my husband had met with them and asked some questions.
So one rainy day we met one of the coordinators from a specific homeschool co-op and she was even better in person that I had thought that she would be. She was super friendly and welcoming. She answered all my questions and I signed us up.
Of course we are only a couple months into it but we are really enjoying homeschooling in Texas. The laws are straight forward and easy to follow. The co-op gives us an outlet and takes some stress of of me. It lets me have some ideas of what other families are doing and how they homeschool. It has allowed my kids to make some great connections and some new friends. I got to meet with a lot of great homeschooling moms, some are long time homeschoolers and some are new to it all.
I hope that anyone homeschooling has the opportunity to try our a co-op, or try out a different one if yours isn’t working out for you. I think that our current co-op is really making homeschool much more enjoyable for us. It is really a fun experience and allows us to try new things, like science with a group.
We are having fun here in Texas and for any homeschoolers out there struggling with a homeschool burnout or just feeling like something is missing… I would like to just encourage you to switch things up. Try a group, drive to a new locations for new schooling experiences, add in time at the museum, get to know your librarians, make a connection that aides your homeschooling life and do it now!