Never Planned to Homeschool…

Never Planned to Homeschool

I have a real life friend with a 4 year old, and their family is in the trenches of THE decision.  What educational option is best for their family, their daughter?  As I invited her over and offered to let her pick my brain {what’s left of it}, it occurred to me that I have thousands of readers with this exact same dilemma.  I have answered it briefly here and there, but never in a complete blog post.  So, for my friend, and for all of you who are my “friends,” I share our journey with you.  The road that led to homeschool, but began with nothing resembling homeschool!

 

My Background

I babysat since the moment I can remember, I absolutely loved children and would babysit for free if it meant I could spend time with cute kids.  I went to college with no real plans in mind and midway through my sophomore year I decided to be a Nutritionist.  I soon learned that I would have to take Organic Chemistry and I knew I had to change direction.  I remember sitting in the counselor’s office to declare my major and the moment I chose Early Childhood Education and why.  I had no clue what I really wanted to do, but I KNEW I wanted to be a good mom, so I chose the major that I thought would help me with that. The counselor tried to talk me into education K-6, and I purposely chose Early Childhood Ed with B-K {birth through Kindergarten} certification. I thought that would be best for my mothering goals and if I did decide to teach I knew I had no desire teaching beyond the Kindergarten level.

So, I completed my degree, with several internships, one being Montessori based, which is where my passion for Montessori came from. I went on to teach Kindergarten in the public school system for 4 1/2 years and loved {almost} every moment of it. I stopped teaching right before PacMan was born, to begin my journey as a mom.

 

Original School Plans

I love the group education model and always desired to send my own children to public school.  I had no problems with private schooling, or homeschooling, just believed that MY kids would attend public school, and thrive!  My husband agreed, as we both attended public schools for our educational journey.  There was never really a question in our minds about the schooling choice for our children, until…

 

Missionary Living

When PacMan was almost 2 we transitioned into missionary life in the inner city.  This process is a whole different story, but here I will share how that transition affected our schooling future. We live in a big American city, in the heart of the “ghetto” and unfortunately the schools around us aren’t schools we wanted to send our children to. We looked into a few private schools and just never felt led to that route, for many reasons {financial, and others}. So, it became clear we had to figure out what we were going to do and I began thinking and exploring when PacMan was just 3. I had 2 amazing friends who homeschooled {one is Shannon who writes the Calendar Connections cards!} who were inspiring to me, but I still didn’t think it was the choice for us. I still had no clue we would eventually become homeschoolers!

 

The Year of Indecision

During that year of indecision, we enrolled PacMan in a preschool 2 days a week at a local His 1st Day of Going SchoolChristian school that one of the other missionary families’ children attended. At the time it worked out fine and he loved it.  Later I learned that this was a bit of a mistake, and maybe my own selfish desires led me to be OK with that decision.  I was working full time as the children’s ministry leader and I needed those few hours of work time.  Once we made the decision to homeschool, I paid the price for this transitional decision as Pac begged to go back to “going school” as he called it.

In hindsight, I wish I would have kept him home, but I also don’t regret sending him.  I know, that’s a bit contradictory, but I am certain I gained valuable insight by him going to preschool, and the experience for him was positive.  Even if it was the wrong decision, God redeems and all is well.

 

I feel the Holy Spirit Leading us to HOMESCHOOL, AHH!

Obviously we came to the decision to homeschool and although I don’t remember the final decision or the conversation that solidified the decision, I do remember feeling fully guided by the Holy Spirit. I can’t say I felt certain, but I did feel peace in the direction we were taking. A few very specific things led to our decision.

  1. Our location. The public schools weren’t what we desired for our children and the private schools weren’t a good fit for us.
  2. Our missionary lifestyle ~ we work odd hours, take odd time off and really benefit from a year long schedule not hindered by a public school schedule.  We take vacations during the off season with grandparents, and are able to have our weekly day off easily be on Friday instead of a normal weekend {my husband works on Saturdays and being a ministry family, we “work” on Sunday too.}.
  3. Daddy’s daily work hours ~ my husband leads the recovery ministry at our church and also runs the work training ministry. He is the full time missionary during this season of life and his plate is full.  He is also currently in college, completing his Bible degree and also getting his masters degree in Christian counseling. If our kids went to school, he wouldn’t have the time with him that we feel is valuable to our family.  He spends lots of time with them, even with his busy work routine.  He is able to do this because we homeschool.
  4. Educational freedom ~ I wanted to be the one influencing my children on a daily basis for so many hours a day.  Back in my teaching days I knew many wonderful teachers, but I also knew many I would not want my children spending hours and hours per day with.  I really dislike the lack of input a parent has on who the teacher is. I have no viable solution for this, other than to do it myself. The luck of the draw just wasn’t sitting well with us, and having an entire year led by a man or woman that wasn’t someone we felt comfortable with was very concerning. Now, even saying that I do know that had we chosen public school God would work it all out for good. Even though I say this, I also trust God fully and know that even if my children were with a teacher we didn’t approve of, God would always be there with them and in the situation.
  5. Ability to adapt to the needs of my children ~ I love figuring out a child’s learning style.  Learning about Multiple Intelligences was a favorite topic of mine in college, I love how unique all children are.  Homeschooling gives me the awesome challenge and opportunity to adapt to my children in a very specific way.  This has really benefitted Krash, who I think would fall between the cracks in a group education model.

 

OK, but HOW will we homeschool?

Once the decision was made I became overwhelmed with all of the choices.  Being so overwhelmed led me to look into public cyber charter schools, and I went to an open house and was impressed.  The school we ended up choosing seemed to be a good fit and the more I learned about Calvert, the more I felt it was a good start for us.  We began our homeschooling journey with the idea that we would take it one year at a time and one kid at a time.  What works for one season of life may not work always and what works for one of our kids may not work for all of them. I knew if the cyber school was a bomb, I could always homeschool the way my friends did and figure it out that way.  Honestly, choosing a cyber school gave me a peace at first and I am totally pleased with that decision.  I was lacking confidence, yes – even having been a teacher. I was extremely overwhelmed and felt that I would somehow fail my children.  The cyber school was a completely positive and supportive experience for us and still is to this day.  I have heard other stories that haven’t gone the way mine has, so I am hesitant to even say how much we love our situation.  We are very blessed indeed. I have more FAQ about our cyber school choice here.

 

 

The First Year of Homeschooling

I must admit, I wanted to quit the first year.  I had dreams of the big yellow bus driving by Color Treeand waving as my son hopped on!  PacMan was a VERY strong willed little boy and the early days of homeschooling him were very exhausting. He fought me on almost everything and I often thought we made the wrong choice. But we pressed on, knowing that we truly felt that God had led us on this journey.

Gradually we found our groove and each year it got better, but I still struggled with my fear about messing up my kids.  I knew I could swing Kindergarten and 1st grade but beyond that I was certain I would fail them.

 

7 Years Later…

My oldest will enter 6th grade in the fall, Krash will be a 2nd grader and Ladybug is a preschooler. I am currently re-learning 6th grade material so I will be fully prepared to teach my son in the fall.  I was one of those A & B students who tested well.  I memorized information and then dumped it out of my brain forever.  It still amazes me {in a bad way} what I don’t know.  Basic facts of history, math, grammar rules and more.  I am truly relearning much of what I am now teaching.

I can honestly tell you I love homeschooling. Not because it is easy, but because I know it is right for our family at this time.  Around 3rd grade things got MUCH easier with Pac, and now we have a groove that works. Personally,  I still struggle more than you will ever know and I still doubt, but overall I am confident in the path God has placed me on.  I know He is walking beside me and will never ask me to do anything He feels I cannot handle!  My fears are goofy, I am consistently reminded of that.

 

What About You?

When I am asked for advice, I tell my friends that they must seek the will of the Lord for their family.  What works for one may not work for another.  I have no problem with public, private, hybrid or any other educational model.  Just because I homeschool {and use a cyber school} doesn’t mean I believe it is the only correct choice.  It is right for our family.  Praying and seeking as a family is deeply important. 

One thing I will tell you is that I don’t think anyone should NOT homeschool out of fear. We all have fears, even the best homeschoolers have fears.  I have listened to the greats, met them at conferences and have learned that they too were just like us {Sally Clarkson and Rachael Carman are two I adore}.  Women who struggle with doubts, fears, and who lack the confidence to believe that we truly are what’s best for our kids.

Remember, you can always change your mind.  That’s why we have the one year, one kid at a time policy.  If it isn’t working, seek the Lord and pray more.  Maybe you will feel called to stick it out as we did, but maybe you are in a situation that isn’t right and you need to change. It is a decision only your family can make with God’s guidance.  The best advice in the world can’t come from friends or blogs, it comes from the Lord.

 

Think YOU Might want to Homeschool?

{disclaimer~ affiliate and blog sponsor links below}

Looking for resources to read? If you have a baby, or a toddler, be sure to get my Tot School eBook for free here.  I also highly recommend Montessori at Home!, an amazing eBook which has inspired much of our homeschooling. Seasons of a Mother’s Heart was a great read in my earlier homeschool years also.

I contributed a chapter to this jam packed eBook, which I think is an amazing resource for those of you on the fence. You Can Do It Too! shares stories from over 25 homeschool families. The eBook is regularly 9.99 but is only $4.99 for the summer!

Homeschooling eBook

 

Want to get started reading right now?  Head over to my friend Jolanthe’s amazing and helpful blog series, Homeschool Basics

Homeschool-Basics

 

For future planning, I recommend trying to get to a homeschool convention. You can search to see if your local area has a yearly convention, or if the Teach Them Diligently Convention will be near you {Nashville, Washington DC, Spartanburg, and Texas in 2014}.

336X280 TTD Button 2013

At a convention you can browse through curriculum, and sit in on MANY helpful sessions.


Do you have your “how we chose homeschool” story on your blog?  Leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to read!  Or if you don’t have a blog and want to share your story in the comments…feel free!