Follow our family as we journey through life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Homeschooling... why not?

I never intended to homeschool. I never had an educational plan for my children that included excluding them from what society sees as acceptable and keeping them home with me. I never thought I would be one of those parents. You know the ones with the weird but happy children wearing hand-me down clothing.

Not only have I had a lot of children in a relatively short amount of time, but I have decided to take on the responsibility of educating my children myself. I don't mean I am flying solo here. Michael does a full 50% of the school day and we also rely on local artists and musicians to pick up the slack in areas that we deam important, but fall short in our own skills.

The responsibility of this decision is huge. Beyond huge. Next to getting married and actually producing these children, it is probably the biggest decision that Michael and I have made. And making this decision didn't come easily for us.

I'd miss these clowns too much if they were gone all day!
This is our fifth year homeschooling and our fifth year in this house. Notice the connection? When we moved I was unsure what we were going to do with James. At five he was already reading at a fifth grade level. Public school mandated that he had to enter Kindergarten. Private school would allow him in first grade, but not only could we not afford the $5000 a year tutition, but I wanted him with his like-aged peers. A little research into homeschooling showed us that we could school him at the level best for him, and expose him to kids his own age.

We didn't do this blindly. Michael and I had both worked with homeschooled students in Atlanta and we found some pre-existing homeschool co-ops in our new area for support. But that first year was still hard. Three kids under five, a baby born in the middle of the year, not knowing anyone in this area where everyone seems to know everyone. It was hard. And lonely. And isolating. Even at co-op I felt like the odd one out. Everyone seemed to already be friends and I had to break into an already formed club.
The Littles are hard at work in the schoolroom.

Year two was better, and year three was better than that. Every year we made more connections and got more involved. Each completed semester reaffirmed that we had made the best decision for our family at this time. Our children have a nice mix of traditionally-schooled and homeschooled friends. Sometimes we are so busy that they are excited for a day spent entirely at home. Sometimes we have long stretches of being here with no outside stuff going on.

When people ask why I decided to homeschool, I usually tell them that it's because I am an extremely lazy person. The thought of having to get my kids to and from school everyday would be too much. Although that is true, being able to homeschool is anything but lazy. As the homeschooling parent you are in charge of doing everything that a teacher and school district would normally take care of for you. You must teach every student every subject. Plan and carry out field trips, enrichment classes, and activities, as well as pay for these. Prepare and serve meals, and clean up afterwards. Report grades to the district as well as purchase your own curriculums and standarized tests (which you also have to give).  

I love having this time with my kids, and right now, homeschooling works for us. It might not be this way in the future, but I am sure glad I have them home with me now.


Katherine T. Lauer said...

That's a great description of your decision process. Thank you for sharing.

brandyb said...

Homeschooling is not easy by any means, but the time you get to spend with your children more than makes up for it. Thanks for sharing.