Monday, April 29, 2013

How we became a homeschooling family

A few years ago, homeschooling wasn't even on my radar. I knew people who homeschooled; my aunt homeschooled my cousins, and I had a few friends and acquaintances who homeschooled their kids. I saw homeschooling as "nice for some people, but not for me." I wasn't against it, but I very much felt that it would be way too much work for me to even contemplate.

We sent our oldest to preschool when he was 3, and enrolled him in public school kindergarten at 5. He loved school; he loved his teacher and generally enjoyed going. His only complaint was that he got bored and wondered why he had to learn things he already knew. He wished they would do science, and he said math was so easy he finished early. So although we certainly didn't have a negative experience with public school, I have to admit, it left something to be desired. I had this nagging feeling that maybe I should consider other options. Still, homeschooling wasn't the solution, I was sure.

I researched private schools, especially our local Catholic school, but it was expensive and far from where we live. I pondered other ideas, not letting myself "go there" when it came to homeschooling. I was firmly NOT interested. Or so I kept telling myself...

Then one day, I read a blog post by a blogger I followed. She had posted a few times about contemplating homeschooling, and this particular post was her announcement, of sorts, that they had decided to dive in. I read about her thought process, about their reasons for their choice, and how excited they all were, and I found myself surprised to be feeling... jealous. Jealous of what? How silly! I was sure homeschooling would be a great option for them, but not for me! What was there to be jealous of?

Suddenly, homeschooling seemed to pop up everywhere. Blog posts, news articles, my few homeschooling friends talking about their plans for the upcoming school year... I couldn't escape it. Finally, I decided I better at least give this homeschooling thing a look. What could it hurt to just do a little research...

I don't think I'm capable of just "a little" research. I threw myself into it with gusto, firmly not telling a soul what I was thinking. If I said it out loud, I might find myself, you know, actually doing it. I wasn't ready for that. But the more I read, the more I researched, the more I found out, the more excited I became. It started to sound not only possible, not only like an interesting option, but like an amazing opportunity.

Eventually, I admitted to my husband that I was thinking about homeschooling. He was surprised at first, but very open to the idea. I discussed what I'd learned, had all sorts of statistics and studies ready to quote, and had made a long list of pros and cons. He was tentative about starting right away (by this time, we were literally weeks away from the beginning of 1st grade); I think he worried I was being hasty. After all, he hadn't been privy to the weeks upon weeks of research, thinking, praying, thinking and more research I'd been doing.

In the end, we took it to the kids. We talked to our oldest, asking him what he thought about the idea. I remember his face lighting up as he said, "I like that idea!" That sold me. We still took a little time to decide for certain, and when we let him know a few days later that we'd decided to go for it and homeschool, he said, "Yes! I was hoping that's what we'd do."

Less than a week later, I pulled him out of school, and we've never looked back. I won't say I've always been 100% sure of our decision and never had moments of doubt; I certainly have. Some days I wonder what on earth I was thinking. But most days, I know we are right where we are supposed to be. People who are religious or spiritual at all will probably understand when I say, I felt called to this lifestyle. I felt God nudging me along, even when I was pulling back and trying to go my own way. I'm very glad I finally listened. This is simply a life that works very well for our family and I can't imagine living any other way.

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