I grew up in a pretty conservative atmosphere. I went to a private Christian school most of my school years, and had the same friends during that time. I was homeschooled for a year or so, but we didn’t really belong to any homeschooling groups or go to activities with other homeschoolers. We just did our own thing, took tests at the private school I had attended, and achieved social interaction through music and sports. Most of the “real” homeschool families I knew shared several key attributes: they were typically large families, their mothers wore jumpers (particularly of the denim or corduroy varieties), the kids were quiet and didn’t say much (usually staring at me while I chattered away at them, as if they’d never seen my particular breed of child before), and they were interested in boring things, like bird talons and osmosis. Spending time with these stereotypical homeschool families led me to one solid conclusion: I would never (NEVER) subject my own children to a home education.
Fast forward a few years, and you’ll meet me, a new mom
fighting about discussing education with Carl. He went to public school for his entire K-12 education, and had never thought to question another option for any future offspring. So when he married a girl to whom public education was somewhat of an oddity, he was thrown for a loop. As was I, since I had never really considered public schooling as an educational option. Mind you, I had determined I would never send my children to private school, since I didn’t really see the benefit after having experienced it myself, and we’ve already gone over my homeschooling opinions, so I am not really sure what options I thought that left us. I knew what I didn’t want for my children, but I didn’t know where to go from there. Thankfully, I thought, we have YEARS before we have to make a decision as huge as where to send our kids to school. I was certain we would have it figured out by the time the twins reached kindergarten.
Well, wouldn’t you know it! When the twins were ready for kindergarten, we were in fact not ready at all. I was torn. I didn’t want to be that homeschool family. I may love to wear (yoga) skirts, but I despise jumpers, and I’m really not even all that fond of denim. But I was also terrified to have my children starting out their education in the dreaded public school system, leaving me at a loss. In the end, the twins went to public school for kindergarten, mainly due to my indecisiveness. We decided we would give ourselves a year to try it out, and a year to prepare in the event that we felt we could tackle homeschooling for first grade.
And you know what? We have decided we are ready. While we had a truly wonderful experience with public school kindergarten, we know that we want more for our children. I am so happy to say that we are not homeschooling because of traumatic public school experiences, but rather because we just know it’s the right direction for our family.
I also knew that I did not want to make the decision to homeschool based on fear. I feel like so many families that I’ve known that homeschool did so for fear-driven motives: What if my child learns horrible behavior? What if she starts to swear? What if he is bullied or abused? What if she is left behind or left out? I know that there are legitimate fears when putting your child’s education in someone else’s hands, but I didn’t want those fears to be the driving force behind our final decision. I know that if our decision was fear based, I wouldn’t stick with it. I would burn out, give up, and send them back to public school.
I do, however, feel like we have come up with a few great reasons to homeschool our kids. For starters, I know that sending my kids to school means that they are with their teachers and classmates for more awake hours of the day than they are with my husband and me. That means that they are far more likely to pick up what they see and hear at school than what we are trying to instill at home. While I fully believe you shouldn’t shield your children from everything out there in the world, I also believe that laying a firm foundation in whatever your family’s belief system is will prepare them when they do encounter all that the world offers. I want my children to learn at their own pace. I want them to have an education tailored to meet their specific needs. I want them to be able to spend time seeking their own interests. I want each child to appreciate a love for the outdoors and learn through nature. I want to read the classics with them, and nurture a love of literature.
I could go on and on about the aspects of homeschooling that have me excited about the school year, but I think I’ll save some for another post. I don’t anticipate perfection this year. I know that it will take time to adjust, to find our rhythm, and to figure out what works for our family. I am so excited, and I can’t wait to share this new journey with our readers!