Within the last couple of years, we have seen a quite growth in the number of families homeschooling, and each family has its own story and reason for starting. Our story started in a small town on the west coast.
We were living in a small rural and my son was desperate to go to school and be with his friend from church. Had we been living anywhere else the answer probably would have been no, but I happened to be working at that school through an extension program and I had a good relationship with most of the staff. His first year was wonderful. He loved his teacher and classmates and was excited to start his second year as a first-grader. We were so excited for him to have the teacher he did, but things quickly spiraled downhill.
Not so perfect at school
The first week of second grade I started getting emails that he was hitting at lunchtime recess. This was totally out of character for him. Unfortunately, no matter how we asked him what was going on, he would clam up and stop talking completely. He started getting off the bus with his fists balled and angry but still, no one could figure it out.
I had been laid off the year prior, so I wasn’t in and out of the school near as much and juggling a new baby, I didn’t have time to go sit down there every day and monitor the situation. Thankfully, a friend heard about what was going on and went to watch. She witnessed him being picked on by kids a few years older and then he would hit in self-defense.
While I wasn’t thrilled that he was hitting, knowing why he was doing what he was doing was a relief. I was able to talk to staff and the problem stopped but unfortunately, it was too late. He always seemed to be in fight or flight mode because he was still around those kids every day. Even his principal agreed that it might be best to homeschool him for a while.
A journey starting to homeschool
Our first venture was with an online public charter school. I didn’t have time to research and gather all the curriculum I needed in the middle of the school year, so this was our solution. We quickly learned that a large amount of screen time was doing more harm than good for our son.
It was taking him hours to do a single lesson in first grade and he wasn’t retaining almost anything because he was so frustrated. The next year, we unenrolled him from all public schools and sent in our letter of intent to the school district letting them know we would be homeschooling full time.
While we used a curriculum, we soon learned that children learn and apply so much more from life than they do staring at books all day. Whether it’s cooking, doing chores, gardening, or taking care of animals, you can find so many different ‘subjects’ within everyday life that will benefit your child as they get older.
Is homeschooling always Pinterest perfect fun? Can your kids “get behind”? What if my kids hate it and want to go back to public school? What if I fail? If you’ve ever said I can’t homeschool because of these reasons, have no fear, they are questions most homeschool families are asking. First, while there are those families out there with that Pinterest-perfect school room in their home, it is not necessary at all. We live tiny right now and have made it work even with minimal space.
I know I wanted all the fancy posters and organization tools at one point, but to be honest, it’s just not necessary. Even as we work toward the goal of building a home, I don’t plan to have a room specifically for school.
Our unfounded concerns with homeschooling
It took us a few years to figure this out. And boy did we keep asking ourselves these questions. But it has all worked out so far. We are far from the end and learn more every day. But let me help your fears a little.
Can your kids get behind?
My question is… get behind who? Each child is an individual and each child learns at their own rate. Kids in public schools are struggling just to function right now with the back and forth between online and in-person learning.
If someone was to ask whose kids are thriving right now, I’d bet you’d hear a lot of homeschool families say “MINE”. But… what if my kids hate it and want to go back? I won’t lie, my son has said he wants to go back so many times over but when asked why his response is always “to be with friends”.
Most kids I’ve met don’t want to go back for the learning aspect, some need socialization. This can be accomplished through so many different channels. Playdates, sports, church activities, you name it, there are so many options out there for getting your kids together with others and once they realize it, that desire to go back seems to disappear.
Is homeschooling for everyone?
Maybe, maybe not. In my opinion, I believe parents should be responsible for their child’s education, but I know that in some cases, that’s not always easy. Some are struggling to make ends meet as a single parent. Other families have special needs kiddos who need extra care.
Do I think every family who has the ability should give it a shot? ABSOLUTELY. I will never make the promise that it will be easy, but watching your child learn and grow is 100% worth the time and effort that is put in.
Where are we at today?
We’re still chugging along teaching our kids all about life through different experiences. Our oldest two have found a love for the Narnia book series they got for Christmas. Our toddler has started doing both single- and double-digit addition problems on his own and has even started reading his bob books all by himself that he got for Christmas. We are preparing for our newest little one to arrive this summer.
In the end, you might ask if homeschooling is all it’s cracked up to be? That’s going to depend on the family you talk to and how things went that day, week, month, etc. For us, I will always say yes! Homeschooling allows us to be in control of what our kids are learning about and when while still giving them the freedom to explore age-appropriate topics.
What it comes down to is this: What have you got to lose?