Why did my husband and I decide to homeschool Beck and Elizabeth? My husband and I never actually intended to homeschool our children. In fact, I think that homeschooling in general was not even a blip on our radar when Beck was in Preschool. When Beck was 3 years old we had him in preschool 3 mornings a week. We wanted to ultimately give him a beginning to his education and allow him the opportunity to socialize with children he could get to know that were his age. Then, after two months the preschool gave my husband and I a notice out of the blue that within a few days all students would be required to attend full days 5 times days a week since this was the only way they could effectively teach the children. Really? So they could teach the preschoolers? So, not only would it mean a huge increase in our weekly payments to this preschool, but we also questioned why at 3 years old 20 hours a week was not enough time for a successful education? After a lot of debate we decided from that point forward I would teach our son at home until we could find another preschool in our area that we wanted him to attend (since it had already taken us well over a year to find that preschool). Needless to say, we never did find another preschool and our family was shown the path to the wide-open world of homeschooling.
Please do not get me wrong, our homeschooling journey has not been like a ride on the Disneyland’s Small World boat ride. We are constantly coming up against small and large hurdles on our homeschooling journey. One of the biggest challenges that our family has faced along our homeschooling journey is major opposition from family and friends about our decision to start and continue homeschooling. We have lost friends, but we have gained new friends who support our homeschooling journey too. We have no support from any family members, even after over 5 years of homeschooling. We are constantly told directly, and indirectly, that we made and are continuing to make the wrong decision for our children’s education; how could they be properly socialized; as a non-credentialed teacher I am in no way properly equipped to teach the children; and a myriad of other comments that you have probably all heard yourselves at one point or another. My husband and I have learned to sweep those uneducated comments under the rug, but I would not be honest if I did not tell you that it still stings and hurts every time, especially from family. My husband and I both agree that homeschooling works for our family and our children are happy, healthy and are thriving grade levels above their peers in some subjects, so we must be making the right decision for them.
Another hurdle we have had is that over the years that has almost brought me to my knees in self-doubt and I constantly find myself questioning myself as to whether I know what I am doing homeschooling. My son Beck is a very over analytical thinker (like his Dad) and his style of learning is to listen and retain all of the information. Sometimes he will not give an answer or response until he is positive that it is the right answer. In the early years this would lead me to believe that he was not properly learning his skills. Then, months later, he would show, without a shadow of a doubt that, he had not only mastered that skill, but also another skill I was getting concerned he did not know either. My daughter Elizabeth is the polar opposite and will just shout out an answer, unafraid of whether it is correct or not. She has also struggled in the past with a speech impediment/lisp. At the time we found this out we also were made aware that in a brick and mortar school she would be placed in a “special” class. So my beautiful little girl who is grade levels above in her learning would be placed in a class where she would not get a chance to thrive because the teacher would have to deal with a student who had a simple lisp in her verbal skills and has no other hindrance with her near perfect reading skills? Honestly, when my husband and I heard that from a local speech therapist that works at our local public school it just cemented for us that we are making the right decision to homeschool. The nail in the coffin, per say, was that we later on we found out (from our dentist of all people) that her lisp is a medical condition and not a learning disorder.
So, with Beck’s need to be correct all the time and Elizabeth’s lisp there had to be a benefit to homeschooling, right? We have found that there are so many benefits to homeschooling that it is honestly hard to just choose one. I think a major benefit for any child in a homeschooling atmosphere is that they have their education personalized to their needs, likes and dislikes. If a child wants to learn more about dinosaurs then as their teacher, you can give them months of learning all about dinosaurs; whereas, in a typical brick and mortar school your child would only be allowed the stock allotment of time on that one topic. I feel that the open style of education allows us to stay with a subject longer, add content to them, and reinforce them as needed heavily benefits homeschooled children at all grade levels and all the way through their adult lives. I also feel that homeschooling brings my family bond even closer as there are far fewer outside influences in my child’s education and overall upbringing. I do not have to worry about what they might be learning at ‘school’ when the proverbial overtaxed staff is not looking. The most common complaint I get from my friends is that the teachers are always distracted, to put it nicely, and that their children are having to do more and more homework since there wasn’t enough time at school to get it all done. With homeschooling, I do leave some ‘homework’ for the kids to do with dad, but in general, when we are done with school for the day, we are just that, done with school. My children have friends, but another bonus of homeschooling is that as a mother I am able to watch my son an daughter form an unbreakable bond not only as siblings but also as each other’s best friend. They play with one another and can count on one another for absolutely anything. It warms my heart each and every day seeing them interact with each other. This also means that the manners and behaviors that my husband and I teach them will not be influenced by the proverbial school yard mentality that seems to be prevalent in the news these days. We get to participate each and every day in the way that Beck will grow up to be a fine young man and Elizabeth will grow up as a respectful woman.
For those of you who are new or are considering homeschooling, I would highly recommend taking some time to research all avenues of school open to you in your area. When our family began our homeschooling journey we did not know anyone that homeschooled and I was not aware of the huge online presence of homeschoolers. It was scary! I also recommend picking up books at your local library, visiting several local charter homeschooling programs and if you can, talk to some homeschoolers who have several years under their belt. Most good charter schools have a few families that will even meet with you so that you can see what homeschooling is all about. I do not feel like this is said enough, but please always remind yourself that what works (whether routines or curriculums) for one homeschooling family may not work for another homeschooling family. You can also take solace in the fact that if something isn’t working for you or your children then you can usually switch to something else without having to wait until the end of the school year or even another homeschooling family in your circle might have suggestions for you too. Once you get your feet wet in the homeschooling world you will figure out not only your child’s learning style but also your teaching style. Don’t be afraid to ask laundry sized loads of questions to anyone in the homeschooling world.
I wish that I had someone to help me and guided me in the beginning of our homeschooling journey because it would have made it so much easier. That is one of the main reasons that I started my blog. I feel that If I can help one other homeschooling family, save them time researching or creating a unit for their child or just give them somewhere to feel like they belong then all of my hours and time spent on my blog is worth it! If you are considering homeschooling or are new to homeschooling and have a question, please feel free to contact me and ask away. I try to make sure that every question asked of me via email or Facebook always gets answered!
As part of the way that I can help my fellow homeschoolers, new and veterans alike, I share the printables and creations that I create to use with my own children along our homeschooling journey. If I can find another curriculum/printable offered by another blogger/teacher/website/publisher then I use that product. In a sense, I do not recreate the proverbial wheel if you will, and I also generally see no need to create something that is already out there in cyberspace. I pride myself in having unique educational curriculums and printables. Because my teaching style is not cut and dry, nor is my children’s learning style, I figured out long ago that if I try I can make their learning fun, educational and memorable I will get the same end result as a cut and dry style of teaching/learning. While I have many friends that prefer the facts and nothing but the facts, it just doesn’t work for our family. I pour myself into my curriculums and printables. I do not just take a template and change the subject or characters, but instead I strive to make each and every curriculum and printable I create stand on its own unique footing. I feel I am very creative both naturally and in my teaching style and I feel that shines through in my creations. I have had many readers comment that coming to my version of homeschool must be like Disneyland, and I LOVE that! I also pride myself in the fact that my curriculums are meant for homeschooling families in the way that they can be taught to multiple grade levels at the same time. I have always found that it can really weigh on me as the teacher to have to teach separate lessons for all of the core subjects each and every day to both Beck and Elizabeth because they are at different levels. Teaching multiple grade levels gets exhausting and there are certain subjects that there is no reason that you cannot teach the children at the same time with all grade levels walking away with a new knowledge, fact, or skill.
I hope that you will follow along with our family on our magical journey!