Preparing to Homeschool: Making the Decision

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Posted on May 8 2013 - 5:00am by Erika ~ Pray Species
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Preparing to HomeschoolThe decision to homeschool is a personal one for every family. Some choose to homeschool for reasons associated with religious and moral beliefs, safety concerns, family circumstances, or the special educational needs of their children. Others reach their decision through a cost benefit analysis of homeschooling compared to available public and private school options. Still others turn to homeschooling as a potential solution for problems a child is encountering with their current educational environment.

My desire to homeschool stemmed mostly from an experience that occurred while I was pregnant with my first child. I was working as a veterinarian and had taken a group of college students to perform examinations on a group of education animals at a local nature preserve. A small group of children arrived to watch the exams. School groups observing the examinations was not an uncommon occurrence at this facility and we already had two or three tour groups pass through earlier that morning. But this group was different from the previous ones; this group was exceptional with regards to attentiveness, participation, and focus.

Thinking about the new little one I was going to be raising, I asked the coordinator of the nature preserve what school the children in that group attended. She replied with a smile that this group was part of their homeschool program. I had never given homeschooling any consideration until that moment. Traveling along a nature path by the water, I found myself behind the group of homeschool students. The group was noting observations in nature journals, tracing leaves, and asking questions about the animals they encountered along the path.

The group dynamics were such that each child was getting unique individual attention throughout the entire morning and the teachers (parents) were able to directly address the interests and needs of each child. The questions the children were asking about the animals they passed were at a level equivalent to some my college students would ask, but what struck me the most was how much fun the kids and their teachers (parents) were having with one another. There was an aspiring photographer and an amateur entomologist among the homeschooling students, so extra time was devoted to noticing and discussing insects along the path and learning how to take nature pictures. One of the young girls was interested in becoming a veterinarian and she was able to participate in one of the examinations by listening to a raptor’s heart beat and recording physical examination notes. This opportunity wasn’t possible to offer to the larger school groups, because of the limited amount of time and the large number of children involved.

In the parking lot there were two traditional yellow school buses. As children milled around the buses, several gathered around a pond in front of the preserve’s welcome center, while one of the teachers spoke above the hustle and bustle. Teachers made an effort to instruct the students to notice the frogs in the pond and to read through the sign showing the tadpole to frog metamorphosis. Some students were listening attentively and others were ignoring their teacher in favor of talking with peers and checking cell phones. Still another group that stood off by themselves tried to nonchalantly pay attention. As dedicated as the teachers in that group were to providing a top notch educational experience for those kids, there was logistically no way for them to cater to the needs and interests of every kid in that group.

While, I believe that kids in both groups benefitted from the trip to the nature preserve that day, as a kid and as a teacher I would have chosen to be a part of the homeschool group. As the public school kids were corralled back onto the buses in order to arrive back in time for the end of the school day, the homeschool group decided to stop and watch the pond where a blue heron was feeding. It’s an unusual sight and one that the kids were excited to watch. The amateur photographer took pictures, the budding entomologist drew pictures of the dragonflies in his nature journal, and the aspiring veterinarian asked me questions about the heron’s diet and lifespan.

My experience with this particular homeschooling group was enough to spark my investigation of homeschooling as a potential option for my family. Our public schools are not among the best in the country and the private school options in our area are expensive. So certainly, while these factors play a part in my desire to homeschool, it was witnessing the ability of a homeschool group to provide experiences and time to address the needs and desires of their unique students that really spurred my motivation to pursue homeschooling as a valid educational option. The flexibility of a homeschool schedule allowing for more family time and the ability to travel and experience life outside of a classroom offers amazing opportunities for my children. I certainly recognize that not all homeschoolers are as successful in eliciting attentive students or providing to the specific needs of their pupils as the group I witnessed, but the potential has made me excited to begin this journey with my own family.

What experiences led you to choose to pursue or forgo homeschooling your child/children?

Wishing you joy in parenting and life,

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  • Love your story. We love homeschooling and I could not imagine it any other way for our family.

    • Prey Species

      Thanks Melissa! I'm sold 🙂 I'm so very excited to have made this decision!

  • Yes! The ability to customize each child's education and give them the attention they need in each area is a HUGE benefit to homeschooling! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Prey Species

      I love that when they are having difficulty, I can offer individualized help and when they master a new topic or challenge I can be right there to celebrate with them 🙂 I'm really looking forward to this adventure. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!

  • Thanks for your story! We're having safety issues at our current school, so we've decided to become a first time home school family this fall. We will have a 4th grader and two preschoolers. I'm intimidated and a bit overwhelmed, but I'm also excited. Plus, the flexibility and one on one attention is something I think will be great for our whole family.

    • Prey Species

      Melissa – I wish you all the best! The support I have found for homeschooling online in communities such as this one has been fantastic! I feel confident you can do it! I know there are challenges and rough times – I see those posts come up too and am always grateful for the parents willing to share the challenges as well as the successes. I'm looking forward to your future posts!! Erika

  • Thank you for sharing this story. I love to hear how others got started on their journey of homeschooling. Wonderful post and great site!! I love the family time that it affords us and the fact that we are able to give a more quality education by having the time to learn our children's learning style and hone in on their interests just like the group you observed in your post.

    • Prey Species

      Stephanie – That's wonderful to hear 🙂 I too adore learning the stories of how people came to the decision to homeschool! The more research I do – the more families I find that are really able to share the overwhelming positives and offer support for the challenges. I'm very excited about this journey! Erika

  • Awesome story on how you same to your decision!! Very much enjoyed it!

    • Prey Species

      I'm so glad Raquel! I am so grateful those kids were there that day and got me started with my research – I'm so excited to have this option on the table for our family 🙂

  • motherhoodandmiscellany

    What a wonderful story! I love hearing about what has led people to homeschooling.

    I never, ever thought I would homeschool, until my sister in law, who is a teacher, commented on how wonderful the home schooled children are when they are in her class (they were home schooled for elementary years and went to public schools for middle school). She noted that they come into her class at or above the other kids in terms of their academic achievement, but also that they are just delightful in their classroom behavior and social skills. That got me started on the process of investigating, and I fell in love with homeschooling!
    Thanks for sharing this great story 🙂 – Amy

    • Prey Species

      Amy – I'm so glad you read and commented! I too have been overwhelmed with how competent and honestly, pleasant interacting with homeschooled children has been! I adore hearing about your girls on your blog and am really looking forward to reading more about your adventures with homeschooling pre-k ! You'll have to give me some hints when it comes time for me to attend my first homeschooling conference 😉 Erika

  • What a great experience led you to homeschooling! Thanks for sharing. Excellent post.

    • Prey Species

      Thanks so much Erin! I appreciate your reading and commenting 🙂

  • Loved reading this. What a great introduction into the realm of homeschooling for you!
    Homeschooling became an option to consider when my first son was about two weeks old. As I nursed him for the umpteenth time that day, I realized I could never let him go to school for 9 hours per day (including bussing) and have someone else spend all those hours raising my child. In short, I didn't want to let him go. After doing a bunch of research, my husband and I are now both homeschooling advocates for so many different reasons. My oldest is now five and he is proud to call himself a homeschooler and, except for wanting to ride in a school bus one day, he has no desire for anything different.

    • Prey Species

      Tessa – Your comment is wonderful and encouraging! Thanks for sharing 🙂 The homeschooling co-op near us uses old school buses for field trips – so there is hope… Having children is the most amazing experience – it has brought a whole new meaning to the word love! Erika

  • Thanks for this, Erika! I'm really being pulled to homeschooling for this upcoming school year. And this makes me want to even more! I'd love to chat with you more about it sometime. 🙂

    • Ang

      I enjoyed reading this. I am a former 2nd grade teacher and my experiences teaching ignited my interest in home schooling. My son is only 2, but any and all advice, or reflections on the process of how you got started logistically would be a fantastic post!

      • Prey Species

        Hi Ang – I'll keep that in mind. We are just starting the process, so several of the ladies in the community are probably better able to answer logistical questions……but I will certainly do my best to address some of them in future posts…… Right now I am mostly reading, reading, and reading some more – and taking note of several homeschooling blogs for ideas and tips! Erika

    • Prey Species

      Krissy – I'm so glad you enjoyed my story. I'm excited to hear that you are seriously considering homeschooling and welcome that chat anytime! 🙂 Erika

  • This is a great post!! Thanks for sharing with us at Share It Saturday!
    Colleen at <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  • wildflowerramblings

    This is beautifully written and so touching to read. I will share with my husband, as I think it will resonate with him!!