I was homeschooling and didn't even know it: Latonya’s story
Latonya shares her homeschooling story. Including why she homeschools, the doubts she's battled, and the importance of homeschooling community.
Editor’s note: This interview is part of our I homeschool because article series. The goal of these stories is to showcase differing firsthand experiences and approaches to homeschooling. They’re not meant to be prescriptive or to say this is the “right way” to homeschool or that this is the only valid approach. We hope this series inspires you to find what works best for your family.
Latonya is a former brick-and-mortar school teacher who now homeschools and teaches on Outschool. She’s passionate about teaching math and art, loves a challenge, and is “a firm believer that all children are capable of learning regardless of their background.''
Years ago, when Latonya began her education to become a teacher, she would never have predicted she’d be a happy, veteran homeschool mom today. In this article, we’ll explore Latonya’s “why” for homeschooling and her view on the importance of community on the homeschooling journey.
Latonya's unexpected homeschooling journey
In her Podcast, Latonya describes her experience as a homeschooling mom as 'unlikely.' Like many homeschoolers today, she didn’t grow up with exposure to the world of homeschooling. Historically the women in her family had worked outside of the home, and, as an adult, Latonya followed suit when she began working in the school system.
Ironically, one of the aha moments that led her to homeschool was during her college studies as an education major.
Latonya was expecting her first child and studying the field of education at her local community college. Some aspects of traditional schooling methods weren’t jiving with the future she envisioned for the child she was about to welcome. Little did her professor know that as they played a video about different types of education, they were planting seeds that would turn a prospective classroom teacher into a homeschool parent!
What really resonated from that impactful video was the idea of experiencing life and acting authentically around your kids as part of the homeschooling experience.
So much of homeschooling culture is rooted in growing together and sharing life skills as part of a child’s vital development. This video started Latonya’s wheels turning, but she wasn’t quite ready to take the leap.
Questioning conventional education
A few years passed. Latonya’s life took a path familiar to many working parents–life was busy! She was pursuing her bachelor’s in education, welcomed another daughter, and worked in early education.
Some lingering doubts about traditional school settings crept up again during Latonya’s real-world experience as an educator.
The feeling was a bit nebulous, but the setting just didn’t feel right. This approach to child development and education was going against Latonya’s instincts. Day in and day out, she saw firsthand how difficult it was for the teachers to serve each child's needs equitably.
You might think this was when she jumped into homeschooling, but hold on just a bit longer…we aren’t quite there yet. Like many other parents, doubt persisted, so instead, Latonya explored at-home providers to care for her daughters.
However, doubts returned once her girls were settled with a provider. The environment seemed excessively rigid and rigorous for such precious small children. She knew something had to change.
Surprise, you’re homeschooling
When Latonya looked at her young daughters and evaluated their learning, she realized something. She was already homeschooling.
For years, Latonya had been creating and crafting with her girls. They’d snuggle up and read books together. Her family would spend hours enjoying the challenge of solving puzzles. Her older daughter began recognizing letters and words on signs when they ran errands; she was even correlating those words back to stories they’d read.
When Latonya compared her daughter’s milestones against those of slightly older children in kindergarten, it was clear her daughter already knew some of the standard curriculum material.
Latonya realized what many homeschool parents struggle to acknowledge, that children learn so much through organic experience and observation. Even if you don’t homeschool full-time, you’re still teaching your children. You teach them how to function, how to learn, and how to navigate social dynamics.
Soon, Latonya wanted to take her home education further. One day she overheard a kindergarten teacher say her mission was to “spray and pray,” a methodology in which the goal is to spray information across multiple topics and pray that some of it sticks.
Breaking education down into such simple terms made it seem more doable. Latonya decided to give homeschooling a go.
That night, she had a heart-to-heart with her husband about the future of their daughter’s education. She had some doubts and felt the daunting weight of carrying her kids’ schooling needs. If you’re feeling this now, know you are not alone!
With her husband’s support, Latonya dipped her toe in the water. Honestly, she felt a bit like a fish out of water at first–as so many of us do. But she was also excited about the possibilities.
Latonya believed in herself and made homeschooling work
Most veteran homeschool parents recommend starting slow and finding what works for your family.
It’s easy to get caught in the pitfall of immediately hopping online and buying hundreds of dollars worth of curriculum. But too often, those knee-jerk purchases are not a fit and fall by the wayside midway through the first year.
Thankfully, Latonya eased into the world of homeschooling. She didn’t have a curriculum or a list of topics planned out, but she was armed with something much more valuable. She had a big picture and end result goals in mind.
Most importantly, Latonya had a strong determination to do right by her kids and give them the stable childhood she had longed for. But it wasn’t always easy. Latonya wondered if homeschooling was the right choice. Would she regret forgoing a conventional teaching career?
While those doubts continued to pop up, they lessened over time. She saw her girls eager to learn, excelling, and gaining confidence. Soon, the voice of doubt became a subtle whisper.
Looking back, Latonya knew homeschooling was the right choice for her family. ''I'm glad we had the opportunity to try something different,'' she says.
Find your homeschooling community
What advice would Latonya give to new homeschoolers? She said she’d tell those new to homeschooling, especially those who feel like they’re swimming upstream, to build a supportive community.
The conversations that you can have with another homeschool mom about homeschooling is totally different than the conversations you will have with someone who isn't dedicated to the homeschool journey.
We hope Outschool can be a place where you find the community and resources you need to support your kids. We know there's no one-size-fits-all, so our mission is to empower you to give your kids the education they deserve.
Latonya’s story is inspiring because it’s the perfect example of trying even when you’re unsure. Of finding partners and community to help you along the way. We hope her story helps you believe you can be a powerful influence on your children.
Connect with Latonya
Learn more about Latonya’s unlikely homeschooling story on her podcast, check out her blog, or connect with her on Outschool’s Parent Community. You can also sign your kids up for one of Latonya’s amazing Outschool classes.