About a year ago at this time, I briefly entertained homeschooling my middle son. You can read his story here. I did not spend any time researching it; I just mentioned it and pretty much received less than supportive feedback, from those closest to me. I am one that needs a lot of encouragement, as you can read about here on my Flagpage (a personality test ). So I scrapped the idea quickly, secretly I felt relieved, because the thought of homeschooling overwhelmed me.
Funny, how God’s timing is EVERYTHING. Fast forward one year and I can’t wait for the school year to start. I feel in my heart this is what I’m supposed to do. In the past, I have always felt uneasy when someone would say, “I feel God wants me to do this,” or “I prayed about it and God, lead me down this path.” I was always amazed at the confidence they had, to say God actually wanted them to do something. I realized now, what that feeling must have been. The more I prepare for the homeschool year, the more natural this lifestyle feels to me. I have never had such a peaceful, calm feeling about such a major life decision before. I have often felt self-doubt and worry with major life decisions, because I fear in the what if’s. But with this, I feel so much more peace, then worry.
Last year, my boys were in Kindergarten and 3rd grade. I loved their school. The teachers and staff were wonderful. My son's kindergarten teacher and IEP team were top notch, the main issue I had, was my son is very advanced in reading and mathematics to the point he was very disinterested in much of the school day. He would ask questions like, "Why do I have to do this math sheet, if I already know all the answers in my head?" He also became very aware of the fact that his teachers wrote down every positive or negative move he made. His focus every day, became if he was a "good boy or a bad boy”. One day, I picked him up and he was in tears, because it was written down on the negative sheet, that he only ate the turkey in his sandwich and threw out the bread, he didn't understand, why that made him a "bad boy." I agreed; I bet half those kids, don't eat their lunch.
Another day, my son, was trying to talk to an older student and tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. The older student, turned around and told my son, if he touches him again he will have his Dad kill him. I happened to walked up upon this situation and saw the confused look on my sons face. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I did everything right when I was trying to talk to that boy why would he say that to me?" I did speak with the staff and the boy and his parents were talked to and he had to apologize, but I couldn't shake the feeling, that despite the great school and staff, each day I was sending my son to school, his heart and character was being shaped and molded and it felt my responsibility to shape his heart, not leave it to his peers and teachers.
I also realized around this time, that my son’s school label of “educational Autism” would follow him as long as he was in the public school. I started feeling; this was the main characteristic that the school focused on with my son. He was highly intelligent, sweet natured and funny, yet every day the focus was “Autism.” A label he was given at age 5, would stay with him and be the first thing teachers would find out about him, regardless of what doctors and psychologists outside of the school district thought.
My older son, on the other hand, I felt was struggling with reading and math. I went to his teachers several times asking for advice and I got the same reaction from them all, "in standardize tests he was in the average range, so he was fine." I honestly felt like, because he didn’t have a label of special education or gifted to focus on, they were not required to offer extra help or work. We however, struggled nightly with homework and it began to be the part of the day we all dreaded. I suddenly, realized I was giving away my children the best part of the day. I was sending them off, in the morning, happy and sweet and got them home in the late afternoon, crabby and tired. The more I tried to supplement and work extra with my struggling reader the more he protested. It was an exhausting cycle.
About this same time, an overseas job opportunity became a possibility for our family. We spent about a week researching being an expat and had decided that if my husband pursued the job, we would homeschool, so we could have the freedom to travel. For the first time, I started researching homeschooling and loved what I read. The individually tailored education, the freedom from the school calendar and the quality, unhurried time spent with our kids, was what particularly stood out to us as appealing.
As we found out more about the overseas position, my husband decided he was not interested in applying for it. I will admit, I was disappointed, but as the weeks would pass, I realized I was more disappointed in the homeschooling aspect. I thought, there is no way, my husband will agree to homeschool in the US, when, we have a great school down the road. I underestimated God’s timing in this.
Two weeks later, my middle son had his first evaluation with the National Association of Childhood Development. During the consult, the evaluator looked at me and my husband and said, "your son, is very bright and would do wonderfully if you homeschooled, have you ever thought doing this?" We both looked at each other and I grinned. I had definitely thought of that and was more than willing to take it on, my hubby was a little more leery, but having the support of the NACD, he was willing to give it a try.
We went home in agreement, that our middle son would finish the year in public school half days, spending the mornings at home with me homeschooling and the afternoons at public school. The following year, I would teach him at home. I came home and researched what homeschooling resources were available in our town and was amazed at all there was to offer. Co-op classes, gym classes, music and sports teams, as well as a huge homeschooling community. It felt like a private school, very tailored to meet your child's needs, not some secluded lifestyle. I had no worries of socializing my kids, in fact, I felt like it would be easy to over schedule them, with all the opportunities available. I felt confident and so at peace with this decision.
A few weeks went by and my husband came to me and asked if I had given any thought to keeping my older son at home too. Now, teaching one kid I felt I could handle, but two, that kind of scared me. I prayed about it and once I started thinking about it more, I knew he would benefit from the one on one teaching too. We spoke with him about it and he was very interested and excited about it. We were all on the same page and excited about this new chapter in our lives.
As time went on and we told family and friends, I was given so much support and encouragement. It turns out two of my kid’s physician’s home school and raved about the positive effects it has had on their families. I also found families in our neighborhood and close friends who felt the same way.
I went to my first home school conference and realized that my stereotype of homeschool families was totally incorrect. The face of homeschooling has expanded from how it looked 25 years ago and after reading this article, 18 Reasons Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children, not only was I excited about this new lifestyle, my husband was too.
We are excited about the freedom this lifestyle will allow for us to travel and individually tailor our children’s education. Both of my boys are very hands on learners and will benefit from the more relaxed laid back schedule. I laughed when I read this article about why Apple and Google executives spend big bucks to send their kids to private schools that emphasize free and creative play. After reading about this private school, it sounds exactly like the type of homeschool I want to create, but it won’t cost, $24,000 a year for each of my kids.
So, in a nutshell, that is why I am taking the plunge and homeschooling. I am taking it one year at a time. I may, at some point, send one or both back to public or private school. But for next year, this is our plan. My 3 year old, will be going to preschool twice a week at a church, for playtime with her 2 besties and to free up more time for me to work with the boys.
I completely understand and appreciate everyone's choice for schooling and feel it is one of the great things about living in the United States, we have the freedom to choose, what fits our family best.
Do you homeschool and have a blog? If so, I would love it if you leave your site info in the comments section, I am always looking for ideas and inspiration.