It has been over 12 years since we first began homeschooling (not counting our homeschool preschool experiences). It was something I had always been curious about but truly lacked the courage for. I had attended college for a few years but I did not have my degree and I was no specialist in childhood education.
I was, however, an avid volunteer at my kids' school from the moment my oldest crossed their threshold. He, by this point, had entered the 8th grade, my middle two were in 2nd and 4th grade respectively and my youngest was just beginning preschool.
My dedicated volunteering had earned respect among the more seasoned teachers who welcomed me frequently and even gave me tips for working with my kiddos on extra activities at home. They began to encourage me to apply as a sub. I prayed and contemplated the prospect. In an effort of what I believe was to convince me to join the call list, one of the teachers encouraged me to browse their teacher manuals while helping prepare classroom lessons one day.
I couldn't believe my eyes: E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. was drawn out within the extensive book's pages. Not just what to teach but how to teach it. Alongside miniaturized snapshot versions of the student's text were pop-out columns which included dialogue and project ideas along with in-text answers and detailed teaching information. The shroud was suddenly torn as I realized how scripted teaching had become... and that, in fact, I was capable of doing it too!
This is not to discredit those teachers who like to color outside the lines... go off-script, develop different projects and are gifted with an ability to really see each student's needs and address them appropriately. Teachers juggle a lot and I do respect those who work hard at their job.
However, for me, as mom, I began to see sign after sign of how God was calling me to home educate my kids. I didn't need a degree or special permission. I need not know developmental psychology (though I had taken it in college). Being my children's mother was all the qualification required.
A series of unfortunate events brought the decision to a head and as Christmastime approached that year, I prepared our departure letter for the school and superintendent as was required in our area at that time. New year's dawned and we were officially a homeschool family (though my oldest remained in public school against my better judgement).
I've seen both sides of the fence. I chose to homeschool because I felt Called to. Many families right now are homeschooling out of necessity, using materials provided by the schools themselves. Even over the years as I have taught my children and am about to graduate my last, I have had so many parents comment to me: "I could never do what you do"... "I'm not qualified to teach my children"... "I don't think I could be around my kids all day like that"... and so on. And every time, it breaks my heart.
You CAN do it, if you choose to.
You ARE qualified, as mentioned above.
Your kids may be difficult, but it may also be because of public school...
My older daughter, who was in 4th grade when we pulled them out, has ADHD. She tested rather high on the spectrum. Our first few months at home were grueling. Having been 'caged' all day at school had caused behavior issues to manifest. It took time but within that first year of school, everyone around us noticed a major change in her. She could actually sit still longer, she was more engaged in learning, she even became a better conversationalist. Yes, some days I lost my temper.... but so did her teacher at school, so did her friends. The difference: she had the safety and security of knowing she was still loved by me, unlike the feelings of rejection growing in her at school. Before we began homeschooling, I struggled to understand her and was often frustrated with her.... but after homeschooling for a bit, I got her like no one else did. We grew closer and I grew more patient and understanding.
But I digress.
I have a question for all the mothers of public schoolers out there today:
Is it possible this current situation is something God is using to whisper to your heart on the point of homeschooling?
It may seem daunting, you may feel you are unqualified... but did you know God has already qualified you and provided a way? You just need a willingness.
I know some of the questions and concerns which will be swimming around your mind right now and so I thought I would try to address a few today, in case it can help...
5 Thoughts on Homeschooling Possibility
1. You are not alone (and your kids won't be weird and unsocialized!!)
The resources for homeschooling families are endless. Clubs in most communities for socialization and networking are countless. My kids were always involved in AWANA growing up and then youth group as they hit middle school and high school. I know families who also get involved in what are known as Coops (I'll talk more on those in a minute), they are a great opportunity for your children to interact with their peers. Youngers often have playground dates and many areas have Homeschool Organizations which provide a support system for parents and various activities for the youth including organizing field trips at discounted group rates.
Truth is, most homeschool kids are better adjusted in any setting because their social interactions are not limited to same-aged group, rather, they learn how to communicate confidently across the age spectrums and that confidence is often carried over into better aptitude in employment as well as adjusting to life on college campuses.
|On a field trip with the homeschool group to spend the morning in an 1880s classroom at the local history museum, kids were invited to dress the part!|
Do you ever take issue with what or how your children are being taught? Are you one of the many families who despise helping your kids with Common Core math? I've got great news: Curriculum is as varied as types of learners are!
As a homeschool family you get the awesome privilege of picking whatever curriculum you want to use from a plethora of sellers. Online (and in person after Covid ends) Homeschool and Curriculum fairs give you an opportunity to be encouraged by key note speakers and explore the variety of options in learning materials out there.
Money an issue? No problem. Some families will spend hundreds of dollars a year on supplies while others spend very little. Studies have shown that more money does not equal better educated, which is good, because we never could afford high investment. Often times you can either find used materials through Ebay or garage sales and some homeschool groups offer local curriculum stores and book exchanges. There are also websites with loads of printable and online information for cheap or free. Two favorite resources of ours (link in text title):
Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool
The resources here are broken down by grade and subject. If you really wanted to, you could let Easy Peasy do ALL the work for you! We have mostly used them supplementally and have also used the high school Music Appreciation program. A friend of mine, who recommended it, had to work part time while also homeschooling and found this resource to be a life-saver with their schedule. My favorite part? It's FREEEEEEE!
Old Schoolhouse Teachers
Both a magazine you can subscribe to AND a website with amazing unlimited teacher resources for all grades which you can print or access online. (use "COW" as a coupon code and pay only $10 a month!) We love the plethora of options!
Abeka and Teaching Textbooks do NOT use common core methods. I'm not certain on others though.
- Time of day to begin and end teaching... entire up to you! By the way, I know your kiddos attend school for at least 6 hours a day, however, actual teaching takes much less than that. Elementary school kids can often have all their work done in 2-3 hours tops and upper level students in 3-4 hours, depending on the subjects you choose and their drive to get the lessons done.
- What days you do school work are up to you. You can have a 4 day school week or a 5 day school week. You can choose to do 4 weeks on and one week off. You can teach year round or stick with the typical September through May. It is entirely up to you. Which brings up another great freedom:
- You pick when vacations take place. Want to take 3 weeks off at Christmas time or plan a family vacation for March? No problem. Your time off is up to you and it isn't stuck on a one-week-at-a-time schedule!
|Schoolwork in our RV as we spent a year traveling in missions work.|
A popular trend in homeschooling right now is Coops. These are groups which get together to exchange knowledge and resources. For example, you may not feel capable of teaching your kids science but your local homeschool coop is offering a science "class". It typically costs no money and works more on a barter system such as; you may teach Art or English or you might offer to look after the younger kids while olders learn in exchange for your kids' participation in other classes. Classes usually meet once a week and students are sent home with 'homework' to have completed by next class. Each coop is a bit different so you would want to see what the local options entail. This opportunity not only offers socialization but also peace of mind if you are concerned you need the help teaching a particular subject.
Another popular option for high schoolers is dual enrollment. Most colleges will accept students as early as Junior year of high school. Rates are reduced for dual enrollment and Student grants and/or loans are typically granted by FAFSA for these classes. I've known many students who graduate high school AND college with an Associates at the same time! However, most families simply have their kids take a few classes to get a jump start on college and to cover subjects like Science, Foreign Language or English which many parents feel they are not confident to teach on a high school level.
Sports can be a sticking point for some families as well. Again, many towns have not only developed homeschool support groups but also teams which compete with area schools. Some smaller Christian schools will also allow homeschoolers to participate on their teams. If those are not options, you may also check into local leagues your kids can participate in through Parks and Rec, YMCA and a myriad of other outlets.
Music is another big point with many families. Our homeschool association where the kids grew up had a full band and choir! Other options include private lessons, church groups and peer groups.
|Attended Handle's Messiah with friends. It was performed by our local professional orchestra and choir (the orchestra does semi-annual meet-and-greets with their instruments for local youth!)|
|We all spent a few years singing with our church choir and Brenden and Brooke also spent some time with the homeschool choir|
|After singing and then learning to play guitar, Ashley served in multiple capacities in the church and was eventually mentored by her youth pastor/music minister in Worship leadership.|
|Brooke took piano lessons from a graduated and now married homeschooler! Even got to attend music parties with the other students and plan for recitals.|
4. You don't have to know everything to teach
It is OK to read the textbooks with your kids and learn as you go! I wasn't raised in the church and I went to regular public school (I also was not the best student in any class that wasn't history or writing or art!!!). I love our Christian based curriculum and how it opens up a whole new field of information I was never exposed to. I've also absorbed information I either never picked up in school or perhaps I simply flushed!
|Game show style review for history with questions adjusted to each grade level|
You do not need to line up little school desks or have absolute structure from one class to the next. Homeschooling doesn't just offer the beautify of learning while still in your p.j.s, it also means you can do lessons on the back porch, at the park, at grandma's house and even in the coffee shop or library!
Home Ec: in the kitchen helping out.
Science: gardening, exploring in the back yard or at the local pond
History: museums, the History Chanel, YouTube, a family member or friend who was 'there'
Math: through games or transactions at the store or measuring for a project...
Language Arts: writing letters to friends and family, simply reading good books also, check out notebooking/lapbooks!
Our favorite style of homeschooling has been the Charlotte Mason method. While I would classify us as "Eclectic" homeschoolers, there is definite Mason influence in our approaches to learning. We were often found at parks or in the backyard nature journaling and observing. We also did a lot of unit studies, combining multiple subjects into one in order to saturate our lives each week with the information we were learning.
|Wrapping up a unit on Ancient Rome: kids made armor and had a friendly gladiator fight in the front yard!|
|Nature study at a local park|
I have thrown a lot of information out there and you may still have questions. Please feel free to comment below. If you know anyone who homeschools, pick their brain on what is (and isn't) working for them. Check out homeschooling chat groups on Facebook or Instagram. Be assured: there is no ONE AND ONLY way to homeschool (even if someone says there is!) opinions and practices are very diverse.
Each state does have different requirements for homeschooling. You can reference the HSLDA website (link in text) for a mountain of resources, articles and even a breakdown of homeschooling laws by state.
Finally, I will admit this to you: like mothering, homeschooling isn't always easy. Some days you AND your kids are in tears... and others, you are laughing till your sides split. It takes dedication and, even on the days you want to dump them back in school, perseverance with an eye on the prize can keep you motivated. What is the prize? Time, family and a firm foundation.
|Sibling school set up...|
|...years passed but the partnership never changed except to grow stronger|
Yes, it will be a roller coaster. But it will be a glorious ride and, I promise, it goes faster than you can imagine.
Whatever you decide.... you've got this. Pray, trust and, regardless, always be available... first to God and then to your kids ♥️
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