It’s Not An Easy Choice To Homeschool
I feel the pressure, just in writing this. The judgement. It’s hard not to. Hazel just turned FIVE. That means, by ‘normal’ standards, she starts school in the fall (or last fall for some folks). James and I have agonized over how we’re going to do school since we had her. Neither of us were big fans of our school experience. Hazel is a completely different kid than either of us were though. She loves the idea of going to school, her idea of school.
We are the only people we know (I think) who are choosing to homeschool our kids at this moment in time. It’s definitely a growing trend for various reasons but we feel pretty alone in choosing it. Confident but isolated.
I certainly never expected to be a homeschool mom! My family has not thought very highly of homeschool historically, I’m not sure why. I think it has to do with ‘social skills’. Being fair though, I was a public school kid and my social skills are lacking. Hazel or Miles though, they can walk up to nearly anyone and make them a friend in moments if they want. I have never been able to do that! Honestly, I’m not too concerned about social skills either way.
It’s Okay To Be Different
I learned early on with my tiny house, if I’m not choosing ‘normal’ I’m going to unintentionally insult a whole bunch of people who do! That is never my intent. I have found myself over the years saying that ‘my choices are not disapproval of YOUR choices.’ It’s all I can say. We all make our best choices! I only ever try to follow my own internal instincts (which speak fairly loudly anymore, thankfully!) I am glad to already have previous experience of navigating big opinions being thrown back at us because I think we’re going to have more of that to dodge in the coming years.
Building A Tribe
We’re doing our best to build our tribe and navigate our way through this next stage. Here is a list of my favorite groups and information, I would love if you have something new that you think we could use if you could leave it in a comment:
- A local group where homeschool events are planned (like dances, holiday parties and clubs)
We will be selecting a curriculum soon. As a secular family we prefer curriculum not involving religious teachings which has proven to be fairly difficult actually (freedom to practice religious teachings is the number one reason people choose to homeschool). For this reason Blossom & Root is at the top of our list for guided schooling because it uses nature as a foundation. I would be grateful to hear from any others who have a different path to suggest when deciding on curriculum.
Here are some of our thoughts that went into this decision.
Reasons NOT to homeschool
Holding other people’s opinions. Through conversations, often enough, opinions come out and regularly come with a weighted response. I’m fine with differing opinions but sometimes they hurt or offend me. The things that hurt the most tend to revolve around our kids. It kills me when someone feels my kids are getting the short stick. I know I shouldn’t care but as an empathetic person it’s easier said than done most of the time.
It’s hard work. Teaching a person is not near as passive of an experience as I fantasize it would be… it takes a lot of effort! Fortunately we have designed a life that allows us to put our energy into things we are passionate about and things that are important to us.
It’s expensive. Public school is ‘free’. We pay for it in our taxes but it is a free place you can send your kid to get educated. Some states give a stipend per student to homeschooling families. Idaho is not one of those states. Again, we are lucky to have our income outweigh our wants, so far.
Reasons to homeschool
Safety/School Shootings – The number of mass shootings goes up every year it seems and leading the charge is school shootings. Last year was another record breaking year. More students died at school than deployed members of the military. I know the numbers are tiny compared to how many schools there are. There is definitely a lot of room for more deterioration. I haven’t seen much being done to address the issues though so I am betting the numbers will continue to rise and I think my state is a prime target given we have a lot of families moving here that are being forced from their home state, not because they see opportunity but because their families can no longer afford being where they were. That’s a lot of angst coming into our local school systems and it does play a role in our decision making.
Security – Along with the rise in school shootings is the increase in school precautions. We (as a society) are doing very little to address the issues of bullying, loneliness and distress and instead just learning drills for how to act in the case of a catastrophe. It’s been a LONG time since I was a student in school but I do volunteer fairly often. I have been in two lockdown drills where students have to heap themselves into a pile in a corner and hope they are out of the way should it be a real active shooter situation. It was terrifying and I was given notice! It’s nothing like the fire drills of my youth. I can’t imagine being sent of to a place every day that did not feel safe and being expected to learn.
I don’t believe you can learn effectively if you do not have basic sense of safety and security. It breaks my heart, weekly someone in one of my mom’s groups asks how to comfort their scared child. They had a lockdown drill and now their kid can’t sleep without being out of sight from their window. They get compulsive about locking doors. I understand it! Safety is important. Emotional security is, too! I don’t feel like I want to expose my kids to that sort of turmoil this early.
Learning Behaviors – We want our kids to be who they are, not who their peers pressure them to be. Kids can be cruel, no matter how well we teach them. It’s a natural instinct they flex. With a 1:30 ratio it is impossible for a teacher to be everywhere for everyone. I want to be the one teaching them their foundation of how to behave.
Socialization – On that same note.
We want to travel – we aren’t done with that stuff yet…
There you have it! Now, I brace myself for the judgments 🙂