To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool

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Homeschool Pros & Cons

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?

Homeschool has been a hot topic around here over the past few years.  My husband has always felt that was our calling as a family–to teach our kids at home, on our own schedule so that we could travel and be independent and not accountable to any institution.  But it has never been my calling–and in the past I have scoffed at the thought.  I had major misconceptions about homeschooled kids–that they were awkward and un-socialized.  But the truth is that those kids would probably be awkward in public school as well and it has nothing to do with where they do or don’t go to school. The idea of it all sounds great.  I kind of picture us sitting around a neatly organized table learning together in complete euphoria–never arguing, never getting frustrated–never staying in our pajamas all day.  Perfect.

But the reality is that my kids are still my kids and I am still me–no matter where we school.  I’m still going to lose my mind when my kids won’t do what I say–the first time!  They are still going to bicker with each other (and me) constantly.  It will probably be the biggest challenge I face as a mom.

 

I can’t make the decision lightly.  I have made a hundred lists and prayed a hundred prayers–asking for guidance, “Lord, if this is my calling–if home school is our path–then show me the way.  If it’s not, then close the door tightly so that I know for sure.”
And wouldn’t you know it–the doors for homeschool swung wide open and the path was made clear.  But like I always do (ugh!) I had to make sure I was hearing Him right.  Haha, so I made a big ol’ pros & cons list.

 

PROS:

  • We can work at our own pace
  • Free to travel as long as we “school” for 180 days
  • Kids will know how to learn outside a classroom setting, which will be very helpful in college
  • We can go above/below designated grade level as needed
  • No Common Core
  • Opportunities to focus on passions (hobbies or a trade in the future)
  • Use the money previously set aside for tuition on educational experiences (museums, service projects, state parks, missions trips…)
  • We can choose what books the kids will read so they will learn to read for pleasure.
  • My younger boys will be able to sit in on Ethan’s lessons and hopefully learn something
  • Grow and strengthen brotherly bonds
  • Grow and strengthen my relationship with my sons
  • Less time spent in an actual classroom
  • We can find the gaps in their learning and will be able to put focus and energy exactly where it needs to be to close the gaps
  • Children can learn practical life skills (cooking, cleaning, finances)
  • As the parents, we will have the final say as to what our kids will be exposed to.  No outside influences.
  • No popularity wars or pressure to have the latest and greatest clothes, shoes, video games, cell phones…
  • I will probably enjoy learning alongside my kids
  • We will be able to do verse memorization and devotions as school
  • Save money–private school is expensive, yo!

 

CONS (with solutions):

  • Kids will be un-socialized
    • SOLUTION:  We live in a very enthusiastic homeschool community.  Co-ops organize field trips, science fairs, talent shows spelling bees, skating parties and other play dates.  We are also very active in our church and have social oblations on the weekend with family and friends.  Kids are always around others their own age.
  • Too much “red tape”  I don’t like the idea of someone looking over my shoulder all the time and if I homeschool, there must be some government agency checking in all the time making sure I’m not screwing up my kids, right!?
    • SOLUTION:  Indiana is a very homeschool-friendly state.  You do not have to legally inform the state that you are homeschooling.  If you are currently in public school, you just need to transfer your child to a private school–your house is the private school.  If your child is currently enrolled in a private school (as Ethan is) you don’t have to do anything.  I notified his school out of courtesy, but I wasn’t required to.  The only thing other homeschooling moms in my state recommend doing is keeping a calendar of the days you do school and to make sure you complete 180 days.  So there really isn’t any “red tape” in my state.  Sweet!  (This site is very helpful in determining your state’s requirements for homeschooling)
  • Kids will miss out on electives and extra curricular activities.
    • The local Christian university offers weekly PE classes during the school year.  They also do art and music classes!  I would love my kids to learn to play an instrument, so that is an option as well.  At some schools they can even play high school sports but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  For now, we are happy doing summer sports.
  • What if I can’t (or just don’t want to…haha) teach a certain subject?
    • Weekly co-ops meet at local churches and they teach different subjects.  I still have to look into this option in more detail.  I don’t know that we’d do it for first grade, but I can imagine once the kids are older, this would be more appealing–especially when you have multiple children at different grade levels.
    • As I said before, the homeschool community is very active and I have made some good friends in the community already.  I know that if there was something I was struggling with or if I had questions or concerns, they would know just how to help me.  One of my friends already offered to meet weekly/monthly to do science class.   Awesome!
  • I will never have a break from the kids!
    • There might be a small (read: large) part of me that just has to get over this.  But in a practical sense, I think having a sitter come once or twice a week for a couple of hours would benefit both me and the kids–and it’s still cheaper than therapy private school tuition!  Maybe even a cleaning lady once a month, too!?  A girl can dream, right!?

 

Selfishly, I have always looked forward to the days when all of the kids would be in school and I could focus on my career and my goals.  But I know myself and I cannot focus on my own interests that much–I would feel bad for missing out on time I could have had with my kids.  This is just me though–it’s difficult for me to put all of my energy into myself–it goes against everything I want to be as a mom.  And besides, I will still be in my 40s when all of my kids are graduated (not including future potential adopted children) so that leaves plenty of time to focus on my own stuff.

 

Right now I am watching all 3 of the boys playing “fireman” in the driveway. The siren noises, the thump of their feet padding on the pavement beneath their cozy coupes and the sound of their voices when they pretend to be grown men. Oh my heart–I could never imagine–even for a second–missing this if I didn’t have to. Thank you, God for this opportunity to stay home with them each day. I am so thankful for this gift even though I am reluctant to accept it most days. Thank you for the grace and mercy you show me when I fail as a mom and help me to show that same love to those around me. Amen.

And the decision is….

After all the prayer and all the research we have decided to homeschool Ethan for first grade starting in the fall.  We still plan to send Grant (he’ll be 4 in August) to preschool 2 days a week because I think he will really benefit from the structure of a classroom setting in a way I can’t reproduce at home…yet.

Let me just add: decisions are so much easier to make when you make them prayerfully.  Take it from me–I spent the majority of my life making choices based solely on my emotions and that can produce very bad results with only temporary benefits.  Now, I know there is so much more to life than how I feel and my emotionss are just one factor, not the only factor.  With that said, I am confident in this decision and I know it’s the right path for my family.  Oy…wish me luck 🙂

 

Do you homeschool?  How do you stay sane when things get nuts?  Because we all know things will get nuts.  Check out my Homeschool Resources Pinterest board for ways to keep homeschooling simple.
Homeschool

 

15 comments

  1. Kristen says:

    Praying that you are encouraged by those around you, supported by those doing the same thing, and that you and your kids will benefit from this experience.

  2. Angie says:

    I agree with so many of your reasons and share them as my own. We have many other factors in play, including food allergies, about which I have also written a “why we homeschool” post. I always enjoy hearing the stories about how and why others homeschoo.

  3. Amy Dowling says:

    I homeschool only my oldest of 3. Last year was our first year. She was struggling with the overwhelming pressure of the homework load of 4th grade (let me say it again, 4th grade!)
    It was the perfect decision for her and I. I had to quit my job but am so happy I did. I’ve gotten my daughter back minus the anxiety and stress.
    We found so much to be involved in within the community even for us just starting in 5th.
    For a variety of reasons we don’t do the other two because it doesn’t seem to be right for them. Every kid is different.
    Good luck to you and just make sure to give yourself “me” time.
    Amy Dowling recently posted…Ask Amy! {25 Random Facts or Thoughts About The Life From Home (LFH) Author}My Profile

  4. Pamela says:

    My niece homeschools her children and is very successful at it. My daughter wanted to be homeschooled but I told her that would be strange since her daddy was the principal of her school 🙂 It’s a big commitment but I so admire those who walk this path.
    Pamela recently posted…Finding the Holy in the MundaneMy Profile

  5. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard says:

    I just wrote a similar entry not too long ago. We came to the same conclusion for kindergarten. I’m not sure where life will take us in the next few years financially, my staying home may become an issue, but for now, for this year, I’m not sending her to all day school to learn things she has mostly known since she was four when I can play with her all day instead. Here was my entry if you’re curious. It was nice to see many of our lists were similar. http://heavennotharvard.com/2015/06/06/to-homeschool-or-not-to-homeschool-that-is-the-question/
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Celebrating the Days of SummerMy Profile

  6. Melanie says:

    We are going to start homeschooling next month – my girls are 4 and 2. It’s something we’ve been feeling lead to for a long time. We were going to start next year, but have been having discipline issues with our youngest, and we’re hoping that having her at home full-time will help us in that area.
    Melanie recently posted…Fruit of the Spirit: FaithfulnessMy Profile

  7. Marissa says:

    My husband and I prayed long and hard about how to go about educating our kids as we know it is an essential part of parenting. We were blessed with the ability to send our kids to a private school that allows me to help in the classroom weekly. It’s been wonderful But we still pray over school each year in case the Lord wants us to take a different path.

    Thanks for sharing your decision and reasons.

    Marissa

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