I never planned to homeschool my kids. It just ended up being the right option for us. Right about this time of the school year, two years ago, we began a serious quest for what other options we had for our oldest son besides our local public school. We had really loved the school and the teachers he had the first several years of school. He was 8 years old and had recently been moved up from his 3rd grade class to finish out the year in 4th grade. He was very bright and getting bored easily and was losing his love for learning. Skipping him up helped, but not enough. He needed to be able to move at his own pace and not be held back. He needed to be able to be excited about learning and flourish. And, unfortunately, the reality was that this great school we had been a part of for 4 years and had a younger son finishing 1st grade in and another heading into Kindergarten the next year…just wasn’t able to fulfill what we felt our son needed.
We looked at other schools in our area, but ultimately, felt homeschool would be the best option for him. As we looked into it, we realized it would be a good option for all of our kids. Our second son did well in school, but sometimes learned things differently, and I spent quite a bit of time doing homework with him to try to teach him things he wasn’t learning in class. If I was spending that much time working with him after he’d been at school all day – why not just spend that time with him during the day?
I read a lot. I talked to people we knew who homeschooled. I visited a homeschool conference and looked at curricula. And we took the plunge. I am now finishing our second year of homeschooling, and we love it. My kids love it. I love it. It’s working for us.
I’m not here to tell everyone that they should homeschool. It may not be the best option for everyone. But, I am here to say that if you feel like your current school isn’t fitting the needs of your child, do not be afraid to consider homeschooling as an option. If you feel like you don’t get to see your child often enough because they are at school all day and doing tons of homework at night in addition to extracurricular activities, don’t be afraid to try homeschooling. There are many, many, many reasons people choose to homeschool. The number of students being homeschooled has grown 29 percent since 1998. The community of homeschoolers is increasing year over year.
As we are starting to wrap up our second year of homeschooling, let me share with you what I love about homeschooling my 4 boys, ages 5, 6 1/2, 9 and 11.
1. I love spending time with my kids. I get to be there when the lightbulb goes on with a concept they have worked so hard to understand. I am there for every field trip. I love learning with them. We have been studying plants this year and after studying about the venus flytrap and pitcher plant, we happened to be walking around the San Diego Zoo and see an area with these plants. My kids were jumping up and down thrilled to see these plants growing there. It is such a treat to be an eye-witness to these connections and excitement for what they have learned.
2. I love that we can tailor their education to their learning style. We can speed up when they grasp something; we can slow down if they are struggling with a concept. I have boys. All boys. Boys that seem to want to be in motion most of the time. I love that they can move around while learning, listening, that we can do a lot of hands-on work that keeps their interest. Or they can build with Legos while I am reading aloud to them or draw or whatever keeps their hands busy so they are better able to focus on what I am saying or reading. You can’t beat all the one-on-one attention they get as well.
3. I can teach them of values and how to be people of good character.
4. There is no political agenda in our homeschool. We talk about ideas and explore the whys and hows. We study the Constitution and what freedom means.The state and federal governments are not mandating what we teach and are not pushing a certain agenda on my children.
5. I love that they interact daily with people of all ages. They get to be with people they enjoy rather than those who share their birth year. They also get to socialize (yes, they get plenty of socialization!) with those who share their passions. My 5-year-old learns soooo much from listening to his older brothers and their lessons.
6. We explore ideas and focus on not what to think, but how to think for themselves. How to ask questions and find answers. They love to learn and they are learning how to learn about anything and everything they are interested in. I want them to be individuals, not conformists. I want them to dream and believe they can accomplish those dreams.
7. We make our own schedule. We can sign up for classes or not sign up for classes. We go to the beach after Labor Day during the week, when hardly anyone else is there. We take lots of field trips and explore and discover. When life gets too busy, we can take a day to just unwind and relax and have fun as a family. We can vacation when it works for us. They can take swim lessons during the day when other kids are in school and have the pool essentially to themselves!
8. I love watching my children interact with each other, create games together, use their wild imaginations together, and learn together. I love seeing them also develop their own unique style, personalities, and interests. I also love seeing them help take care of our home as they learn to cook and clean!
9. I appreciate that there are so many curricula and support systems to help in this journey. San Diego has a great community of homeschooling families. I can ask questions and get a variety of answers. We can plan field trips together. I recently started a co-op of families that will meet once a week and rotate moms teaching a variety of subjects, some of which I don’t have any experience in and wouldn’t know how to teach my children (ie photography, newspaper writing, etc.) With so many options, it’s just a matter of finding what works for us and how we want travel on this journey. There isn’t just one right way to homeschool.
10. On a fun note – we can stay in our pajamas half the day if we want to. No uniforms or rushing out for supplies we just found out we needed. No staying up half the night working on a project. They mostly get the sleep they need. We can stay up late looking at the stars or a meteor shower if we want because we don’t have to worry about getting up early the next day for school. Play is important for kids! They need time to develop creative thinking and problem solving that happens through play.
Does this mean everything is easy? NO! I get comments such as, “Your kids must listen to you better than mine do.” Not always, believe me! “You must have a background in teaching.” Nope. But I have an education and I take my role as a parent teacher very seriously. This is what I feel is best and I will make the sacrifices I need to spend time learning so I can teach them or researching curricula and ideas to help me teach them. It has its challenges, just like parenting in general does. But focusing on the long-term goal, knowing this is the right decision for us, and knowing the alternative – because we have been there – keeps us going. Ultimately we love it. We are happy.
If you think you might be interested in homeschooling, there are numerous ways to do it. San Diego has a number of charter schools, some of which have a 2 or 3-day classroom schedule. Or you can independently homeschool. It’s easy in California.
Here are some charter schools in San Diego for home-based learning:
I sometimes have doubts if I’m doing a good enough job. It’s not always easy. But our experience so far reminds me, that it is worth it. I love homeschooling. I love what it provides for our family. I love my kids and seeing the positive results in their lives. Public school will always be there. If you want to try homeschooling, and it doesn’t work out, they can always go back. But if you try it and find out you love it, you’ll be so glad you did.