Homeschooling?

Why would you want to do that?

This is a question we get asked A LOT. Thankfully, it’s mostly by moms who are genuinely curious about this education option that many seem to be unaware of…

So I figured that I would do a little background on why we chose this route for our family…

First of all, let me state that homeschooling is a legal alternative to public or private education. There are millions of kids across our country that are homeschooled, and homeschooling can look different for each family. Some families may use a relaxed approach, while others may use a rigorous curriculum or online school. What each family has in common is the desire to provide a tailor made education for each of their children. In NYS, homeschooling families must register with their school district. We send in a letter at the beginning of each school year stating our intent to homeschool, followed by a detailed outline of the grade levels of each of our students, what topics we intend to cover that year and what method or curriculum we will use. Homeschooling families provide quarterly reports to the district, just like teachers within the school district itself. At the end of each year, each student is assessed by someone other than the parent – either by test or review of samples of work from the year. While other states have much more loose restrictions on homeschooling, NYS requires the most oversight from the district.

So, what led us to this decision?

This answer isn’t as simple as “we don’t agree with public school”, or “we have such strong convictions about…”. For some families, these answers may fit and that is totally OKAY, but for us the decision was more about what we wanted for the girls vs. what we didn’t want. It is no secret that our schools are filled with so many kids that it becomes nearly impossible to reach every single student, and it is impossible to create a tailor made education for each individual student allowing for strengths to shine and weaknesses to be attended to. Teachers do an AMAZING job at trying their best to accomplish these things, but their are limits to what one can do with so many kids and a restricted amount of time. What I envisioned for my kids was an education where they could each thrive individually. I wanted to be able to research curriculum and choose what would help each of them learn best. I desired the ability for them to try new concepts and work at each one until they felt as though that had mastered it. I longed for the idea that they could not only discover their own strengths, but also have endless time in their formative years to strengthen their own weaknesses. But, above anything else, I wanted them to learn how to learn, to develop a passion for seeking out answers to their questions, and to figure out how to gain knowledge in something on their own! This invaluable skill, in my eyes, would lead to a lifelong ability to grow, learn and discover anything they desired to. It would create well rounded members of society, adults who didn’t run from problems but discovered how to solve them…..

I could go on and on, but I won’t. We have been so blessed with the ability for me to be at home with my girls, to have the time to study them and learn how they learn and then to provide them with the tools they need. I am so thankful to be able to give them access to curriculum, literature, classes and other adults who are masters in various fields. I am thrilled to be able to walk this journey with them. Is choosing homeschooling a sacrifice? In some ways, yes! We are committing to me staying home indefinitely to be able to provide our girls with the best education we can. We are saying no to things in order to say yes to the time we need to devote to this adventure….

But, even more importantly, we feel like we are saying yes to God in this season.

Because, for us, we feel like this is the direction our family is being called to!

Do I disagree with public education? Not at all. I think access to education is an amazing gift that we take for granted in this country. I can’t believe the plethora of people there are who devote their lives to educating the coming generations, and I believe that they do not receive the credit (or the pay!) that they deserve.

Do I think that homeschooling works for all families? No. I am a firm believer that every family’s story is supposed to be specific to them. There is no right or wrong way for a family to look. Loving your kids and committing to raising them to the best of your ability, following your convictions and striving to live joyfully and peacefully is so much more important than finding the “right way”.

However, for us, being almost a whole school year in, I think that we have made the right choice. As you will see in future posts, we are having a blast. I love being with the girls, and they are thriving. We change our lesson plan almost daily as I witness them whip through something I assumed would be difficult, while finding we need to devote more time to things I thought would come easy. The girls’ personalities are evolving as they see themselves growing…

And if I can brag on my kids for just a second – my 4th grader is exceeding every expectation I had. I have discovered that she CAN do well in math if given the time, but the perfectionist in her struggles with self-doubt when things are done incorrectly. I have watched her take the time on a difficult lesson, only to come running to the kitchen to excitedly tell me that she only got one problem wrong. I have discovered she is a fantastic and incredibly creative writer, a deep thinker and she has become an avid reader.

My 4 year old is learning to take risks. She has discovered courage and bravery this year. She is amazingly artistic, while being equally logical. She doesn’t love reading yet, but thrives on stories. And this girl can follow directions better than her 9-year-old sister! She is such an attentive listener….

My wild child is learning to spend time alone and become independent of her, only slightly, older sister. She loves to be taught ANYTHING and begs to “do school”. She is a math whiz and loves to dance. She asks a million questions and is beautifully fascinated by everything.

And the baby is no longer a baby. She can literally figure out how to do everything on an iPad. She speaks in full sentences and loves to make everyone laugh. She wants to be like her older sisters and will sit and copy everything they do. She loves to count money and stairs and is so loving and encouraging to her sisters. She is learning all about how babies grow and loves to talk to Macie. I can’t believe she will be old enough to “do preschool” next year!

I will continue to update this series with specific projects we are doing, curriculum reviews (honest and unpaid!), events we are a part of and answers to various popular questions regarding homeschooling. I truly hope that, even if homeschooling is not written into the story of your family, that you will find this section encouraging and inspiring as you participate in all aspects of your children’s education!

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