I went to public school all my life, and loved it! Of course there were ups and downs and things that weren’t perfect about going to public school, but overall, I thrived in the system. When I went to college, I even got my degree in Elementary Education, so I could be a teacher in the public school system!
Homeschooling my future children was probably the farthest thing from my mind. I don’t ever remember meeting someone who had been home-schooled, but in my mind, I knew for a fact that they were all weirdos; non-socialized, behind-the-curve, weirdos. So imagine my surprise when I fall in love with my husband, and find out that he was homeschooled most years! Then I meet his wonderful family, and they are all homeschooled, and -get this- not weird. Crazy, right?
Still I never had the thought cross my mind that I would ever homeschool my children. When my oldest turned 4, practically overnight, I had the stark realization that in one short year, we would be responsible for deciding the type of education he would receive. Things got real. I started reading everything on the subject, I started talking to everybody with an opinion or experience, we prayed and prayed and prayed. Right up to the wire, I still couldn’t decide. I tend to over-think things and it takes me forever. Anyone else?
One day at a play group all the moms were talking about school next year, and asked me what my plans were. I took a leap of faith and said, out loud, “We are going to start homeschooling next year.” And boom, I got my confirmation that what I just said was the right choice. I just had to take that first step out into the darkness before I was rewarded with so much light.
“So what were some things you took into consideration when making your choice?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you.
*We didn’t want to put our kids into a possibly poor environment. We want them to learn in a nutrient dense environment, where learning is inescapable and catching. We wanted them to learn in tandem with the Holy Ghost, and that can’t always happen at school. Of course we want to put our kids out into the world to be a light to others, but not before they are on firm ground. Plus, I feel like my kids have plenty of opportunities to interact with others and be a friend and example without public school.
*Large class sizes were a concern. When I did my student teaching, I taught about 25 first graders. I worked tirelessly those 3 months, alongside one of the most talented teachers I have ever observed. Still, we couldn’t reach all of the students in a meaningful way. Teachers are forced to teach to the middle and have so many restrictions on their creativity. I knew that no matter if my child got the best teacher in the universe, that teacher would never love my child like I do, and could not put forth as much effort for them, as I could.
*I stubbornly didn’t want to do what the teacher or school district told me. With homeschool, no one is telling me when my kids have to wake up, or when I have to endure the dreaded “drop-off” and “pick-up” lines. No one is telling me I have to dress my kids in 5 different ridiculous outfits for spirit week or demand a prize winning science fair project. I don’t have to get special permission or do make up work if we have an unplanned weekend get-away. My children’s and my needs are in charge. We still try to stick to a schedule, but it’s one that suits us. We have so much room to learn and so much freedom to play with. Sick day? Ok, looks like we’re reading books on the couch and watching, “Magic School Bus” today. Having trouble sitting still while learning? That’s fine. Run up and down the stairs and count by 6’s. Sick of the normal routine? Let’s have our neighbor teach us how to make birdhouses! It’s a beautiful thing!!!
We don’t know if we will homeschool all of our children all through high school. We take it one year at a time and are constantly re-evaluating. “Is this what they need? Is this still working for us? Am I going crazy or do I still love it?” One of the beauties of parenting is that each of your children is unique and you get to decide how to best mold them. It’s also insanely intimidating. When making the homeschooling choice, I thought, “Ok, I could be a great public school mom. I’ll do all the PTA things and volunteer in their classes etc. Or I could be a great homeschooling mom. I’ll properly socialize them, and read millions of books with them, and teach them what they need to know.” Either way, I knew my children would be ok. So we took a chance, started homeschooling and have loved it thus far. Yes, it has good and bad days, but over all, it’s a joy.
So when people ask me why we homeschool, I don’t explain every detail that went into that choice. The entire answer is layered and complex, but ultimately it came down to God. We feel like that’s what Heavenly Father wants us to do right now. I felt/feel extremely inadequate and lacking. After finally committing to this whole homeschool idea, my prayers became very specific. “Heavenly Father, if I’m really supposed to do this, You have to help me! I can’t do it by myself.” And He has! Every step of the way. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, because it’s awesome and brings me peace: If I bring my small, but significant, offering of 2 loaves and 5 fishes, He takes it and turns it into enough. He turns it into a feast.
To all of you public school moms rockin your pj’s in the drop off line, leaving sweet notes in your kid’s lunch boxes, and meeting them at the bus stop… To all the homeschool moms out there researching new curriculum, reading books to kids on the couch, and remaining positive and upbeat when your child struggles with a subject… I salute you. When we are intentional about our parenting, about our children’s education, and we involve God in the process, we can’t fail! We’ve got this.