When you had your first baby, how did you imagine what their childhood would be like? Did you imagine your relationship with them? All the amazing new adventures you’d have with them?
I know it’s hard to imagine too much past the present when you’re in the trenches, but do you imagine their school years? Do you imagine putting them in traditional public school and being room mom? Have you thought about private school? Have you considered homeschool? Or maybe you haven’t thought about any of it at all.
For me, when I had my oldest, I didn’t put much thought into what school would be like for him. I had just figured we would do the traditional public school thing because after all, it’s tradition, it’s what I did and it’s what my husband did. It’s just what you do when they turn five. And I would definitely be a room mom because I knew I wanted to be involved as much as possible.
I quickly thought about homeschool, but honestly, all the homeschooled kids I knew growing up were labeled as “weird” and I didn’t want anyone to label my kids that way. And besides that, I was not a teacher! That just totally wasn’t my thing and there’s no way I could be a homeschool parent.
Or so I thought…
When my son was around 3, I was talking to some other moms in a mommy group I was a part of about their kids being at school. They couldn’t stop gushing about how free they felt and how happy they were to have a break from their kiddos. I felt so uneasy hearing them, and when I expressed how I just wasn’t sure I was ready for my kiddo to be gone all day long, they laughingly assured me that I’d feel different as we got closer to the school years.
Feeling so judged in this way made me seriously start considering our options…
While my kids may drive me nuts some days, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love being around my kids, yes, even when they drive me to hide in my closet behind my clothes just to take a breath!
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I knew that was my calling! So the thought of sending them to school for six to eight hours a day was not really what I wanted. I wanted to be involved. I wanted my kids to know I wanted to be around them and be involved with them.
But I still just couldn’t wrap my head around homeschooling.
Fast forward a couple years, and now my son was five. And because he’s my December baby, we had another eight months before he started school and we had to make a decision.
As we did our research, we found that our community had recently opened a Private University Model school. It sounded amazing! My new little kinder would go to school two days a week, and I would help him with school the other three days. The perfect balance! Everything was already lesson planned by his teacher, and it would really just be me helping him with “homework” on the off days. Perfect solution!
My husband and I felt that this was the best decision for that first year of school.
But being a private school…it was SUPER expensive!
So we adjusted some finances and set aside some money to pay for that year.
Friends, if you have the opportunity to try a University Model school, let me tell you, it was AMAZING!! We absolutely loved my son’s teacher and really all the staff at the school. It was such a great year!
But did I mention how expensive it was?!
And with three young kids, being on a single income, we knew there was no way we would be able to continue. So I began to do some research.
During his kindergarten year, I had been hearing about a program that was similar in our town and they had several different options. We could choose a program that was similar to the one he was in or we could choose to go full homeschool. And it was FREE!
To top it off, since it was established as a public school, we would receive funds to help with curriculum costs as well as extra curricular and field trips to enhance the learning experience!
We decided that since we still only had one kid in school, we had little to lose. If it didn’t work out, we could always go back.
Well, we tried it…and absolutely LOVED it!!!
AND I learned so much about myself in the process.
I was able to teach and be involved with my child exactly like I had always wanted!
Were there hard days? ABSOLUTELY!
Were there days one or both of us ended up in tears? You betcha!
Was it worth it? Like you’ll never believe!!!
At first, our journey towards seeking an alternative method of schooling began with the fear of not being able to protect our babies. Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually too. Many of the textbooks in our local public schools were being changed to editions that did not line up with what we believe, and in some instances, went completely against the foundation we were trying to instill in our kids.
Now, we homeschool because our kids get one-on-one attention. We are able to build our relationships with them in ways we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Now, we homeschool because we have time to slow down or speed up depending on what they need. We can teach them in the way that they learn best. They can take breaks as they need them.
Now, we homeschool because our kids get to have the freedom to learn interactively from experiences instead of just a book.
And now, we homeschool because as a family, we have the freedom to spend time together and instill the values that we hold dear to us. We get to set up their foundation!
But what about…
Many people have expressed to us concerns about our children not getting enough social interaction with kids their own ages. It is decidedly the number one argument we receive against homeschooling.
Well, let me tell you: they get just as much, if not more social interaction. They get to go once a week to a classroom type setting for extra enrichment activities. They go to different types of classes that don’t involve me at all. They get to have their independent time as well! And let’s not forget all the other activities and families we’re involved with outside of school routines!
PLUS, my husband and I decided that we personally want our children to learn how to interact socially from us rather than from the other children they would be around in a traditional public school. We believe teachers in those settings try their best to teach civics, but let’s face it, we learn from what we spend a majority of our time watching. And our children are interacting and watching the other students way more than they are the adults.
Another fear is that my children won’t learn what they “need” to learn, or what they would if they were in a traditional public school. Well, if you choose to buy a prewritten curriculum, it is already outlined by what they “should” be learning at each grade level. Also, if you go through a charter, you are assigned a homeschool teacher to check in with who should also be giving you some guidance if you need it. But one of the greatest benefits to homeschooling, as I’ve mentioned before, is being able to go at YOUR child’s pace, not the pace of the other 30 kids around them.
Another popular phrase from people I hear is: “I wasn’t made to homeschool, there’s just no way!”. And maybe you weren’t. That’s okay. But maybe you were and you just haven’t found that part of you yet. You could always try and if it doesn’t work out, then you could always go another route. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Just because we give something a try and it doesn’t work, it NEVER means we’ve failed.
Homeschooling is an amazing journey!
But it isn’t for everyone either! And that’s okay. And as I say so many times, YOU have to do what is BEST for YOU and YOUR family!
Whether that’s homeschool, traditional public school, private, or charter school, or any combo of those! I only want to share what has worked for us and maybe encourage someone who is on the fence. There are so many “right” ways, and you will make the right decision that is right for YOU and YOUR child!
If you have a school aged kiddo, I would love to hear what kind of schooling you do and what you love most about it!
If you haven’t quite reached the school age just yet, just know it’ll come upon you way faster than you expect!
Do you know what you’ll be doing? Or are you still deciding?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!