We began homeschooling during the summer break, but we will officially begin on August 18. That's just under a week away. Last week, I officially withdrew him from the elementary school he attended up until the 4th grade. It felt surreal. When I remember my sister's words, "That's really bold," I question myself for one second, then quickly remember that there is simply no other option if I want to be in control of my son's education, influences, and spiritual growth.
My husband is 100% on board and supporting me all the way. I realize not everyone will have it that easy when making a decision to homeschool their children. I wouldn't have gone against my husband's wishes, had he been against the idea of homeschooling. I would have presented the research I had done, prayed about it, prayed with him, and asked him to pray about it. We would both have to be in agreement to make a decision this significant. Thank God, my husband and I were always in agreement.
I am excited to begin our journey. I have done so much reading, research, and talking, that I feel as if I've been homeschooling longer than just this summer! To some extent, all parents homeschool, as the home is where children learn life skills, and other essential skills. But to have our children's entire schooling flourish at home (not entirely at home, since field trips and other activities take place outside the home) is a big responsibility and exciting adventure! I do not take it lightly. It is quite overwhelming at times. I am not an experienced homeschooling mother, but I can say this to anyone thinking about homeschooling:
You ARE qualified: The fact that you know your child(ren) better than anyone else qualifies you. You know more about them than anyone else and you have their best interest in mind. You don't need teaching credentials to qualify. Even if you are teaching a special needs child, there are resources available to help you choose different strategies and curricula. You don't need anything other than what you already have: a love for your children that will compel you to do the research necessary to meet their individual needs with the right approach to learning. What's also wonderful about it, is that you will be learning right along with them. We don't retain everything we learn in school and this will be a great way for us to review.
With the flexibility homeschooling brings, our children will have more opportunities to learn more about the things they are interested in, therefore retaining more knowledge on the subject being taught. Actively engaging in activities, as opposed to only textbook learning, will also bring learning to a deeper level of understanding. We are always learning; the method in which things are taught can make all the difference in enjoying what we learn, as well as truly learning it.
You won't ruin your children: You will likely hear things that discourage you from homeschooling your children. Not everyone will be supportive of this decision. You might even begin to wonder if they could possibly be right and if you will ruin your children's education or socialization skills. You are thinking too much. You will torment yourself, going around and around the same thoughts, never reaching a conclusion.
My advice: stop thinking so much. Remember why you want to homeschool. Is this what God is calling you to do? Will you be honoring God and doing it for your children's educational and spiritual benefit? Yes. That's all you need to know.
When I began entertaining doubts in my mind in regards to my decision, I quickly reminded myself that there was just no other option. Doubts couldn't have a place in my mind because there was just no turning back. This is what I want for my child. This will grant us freedom to instill in him our morals, values, and faith, without a big counteracting force teaching him the opposite. Who would win that tug of war? Too often, the public school does. We see it every day. We see it in the growing number of atheists coming out of our schools. Granted, the school is not the only reason people abandon their faith, but its part in the process is undeniable for anyone that is willing to look around at the proof of what leaving God out of education causes.
As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children the word of God and it is certainly not the school's responsibility. BUT- we must be realistic. If the kids are spending 30 or more hours in school a week, then going home to do another couple of hours' worth of homework, we are not the primary influence that we ought to be. We are tired, we have a to-do list to check off, and our children don't tell us absolutely everything they did/learned/heard in school. It just doesn't happen. We have no control, though we try to be involved. We cannot undo what has already been done, but we can take full control of their education and environment.
In regards to socializing, I would hardly call their time at school a means of socializing. Socializing occurs in the home, at their sports practice, club, group, or anything they're a part of and have more time for when they are learning at home. It will happen. I don't believe for one second that you will lock your children in a closet and never let them see other people. Ever. Even if that's what others think we do. Socialization will happen at a better quality when you allow them time in the world with different age groups, different settings and situations, and time to actually socialize, as opposed to sitting in a classroom where they must quietly pay attention, and any time available for socializing is short, with mostly kids their age, an unhealthy pressure to fit in, and possible bullying.
It doesn't have to be complicated: When I made the decision to homeschool, I requested a catalog from several companies that offer full grade curricula. I also collected many from the homeschool convention I attended earlier this summer. I was very excited to read through every single one of them. I just had to find the perfect curriculum. What I found was a headache and indecisiveness. Those shiny catalogs kept pressuring me to look at them again and again, and make a final decision. That was the hard way.
The easy way came when I decided look for used books instead of brand new curricula. I did some research and decided some things were non-negotiable. I knew I wanted faith based Science and English textbooks. I saw great reviews and went with Apologia (Science) and Rod and Staff (English). I put together my own books and saved money. I decided from the very beginning to not overwhelm myself.
Even after receiving the Saxon Math textbook, when I noticed the lessons seemed more like review than new concepts, I didn't worry. I quickly decided to go through them anyway, skipping ahead when it is obvious that it's too easy for my son. I won't put us through unnecessary work, trying to complete every problem. If he has to skip ahead to 6th grade math before the year is through, I'm fine with that.
You CAN afford it: If we truly want to, we can homeschool for free. These days we have information at our fingertips like never before. We have internet access in our homes, and free Wi-Fi in some restaurants. We have the library, and websites that provide free worksheets and lessons, one of them being Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.
If you prefer having the actual books and resources in your home, you can still save a lot of money by doing research and taking your time to look for the cheapest used books online and in discount bookstores.
You might also know another homeschooling family that has kids around your children's age or older. They might be willing to do a group class, or trade or sell their used curricula. Another option is to fundraise for your homeschool! You can either have the family come together to sell a handmade project, or brainstorm together to find something you want to offer people. A bake sale is also a good way to fundraise. Get the children involved, if they're old enough. It will be a learning experience for them to see what it takes to raise money, budget, and make decisions for their education.
At first, I was concerned and feared that my family couldn't afford to homeschool my son. Praise God, I was able to get wonderful used books and material for about $200. I haven't purchased everything I want, but I have everything I need. We are not wealthy and we are extremely tight in our finances, but God has made a way and I believe He will make one for you as well, if He has called you to homeschool. Trust Him.
If you choose not to homeschool your children, you have a right to, but don't make excuses. Our reasons mustn't be selfish or based on misconceptions. Make time to research the benefits of homeschooling and what the public school system is doing to our children. Only knowing both sides will we make educated decisions. No excuses. If we want what is best for our children, any sacrifice- even if it means our "me time"- will not only be worth it, but will harvest unimaginable benefits for our children's future in the rest of their school years, spiritual lives, and emotional well-being.
I'm looking forward to our first "official" day of homeschooling next week. Our first day is already planned. We're having a "No School Ice Cream Sundae Party." Both the teacher and the principal approve.
May our choices reflect our desires to honor God and bring up His children in the way they should go! We will answer to Him- not anyone else. Be blessed in your decision!