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It’s Not An Easy Choice To Homeschool

Macy M17 comments2292 views

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:

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 ShootingsThe 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.

SecurityAlong 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 BehaviorsWe 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 🙂

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Macy M
I am an artist, a steward, a minimalist at heart... I love being out in the sunshine... I love animals of nearly every kind, at least the furry ones, I am trying to be a gardener... I believe people are good at the core but are also capable of very bad things when they aren't intentional about their actions... I love my family, my passions and my life... I am just me :)

17 Comments

  1. I love that you are going to home school. I did with my two daughters, one a hyperactive genius, the other a laid back creative intellectual type..
    BEST CHOICE EVER!! Best advice I can give is paint outside of the lines – if you MUST follow a basic curriculum for her do so, BUT, see where SHE thrives.. My youngest loved food shopping, so finding which was the BEST buy in pounds, ounces, etc was her math for the day. If you’re library has free classes for sign language or anything for that matter, use those sources.. and finally, there’s a time for teaching, a time for play, & a time to watch how Hazel learns best…
    AND REMEMBER…
    YOU GOT THIS!!! DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL JUDGEMENT FOR LOVING YOUR CHILD & PUTTING FORTH THE EFFORT THAT YOU ARE. (THEIR JUST JEALOUS ANYWAY ?)
    Sincerely,
    Rachel Olson

    1. Thank you so much! I’m gathering, from more experienced homeschoolers, the cirriculum is just a starting point for those of us who feel like we don’t know where to start. I’m figuring that well find a rhythm. It sure is daunting though. And to defend something that I’m not fully sure off is a task!

      The best reassurance though really is speaking to parents who have been there and done that. I have yet to speak to a single one who had regrets!

      Thank you for your encouragement!

  2. My husband and I were both homeschooled at various times back when it was practically illegal. It was so wonderful and afforded us so many amazing opportunities. We are also homeschooling our kiddos (5 & 3) and LOVE the extra time we get with them. Giving them the gift of a slower childhood and learning when they’re ready on a schedule that works best for our family.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I have never talked to someone who was homeschooled without an appreciation for that!

  3. We also have a five-year-old who technically starts school in the fall. I am shocked that the time went so quickly!

    We live in an area with many, many homeschooling families, so the decision to homeschool has been a fairly accepted one for us, though of course there are plenty of people who still think we’re crazy. My husband was homeschooled for the bulk of his education, so I have a very clear example of it working!

    I definitely second the other comment about learning how your child learns and what drives her. I made it my goal these last few years to study my own daughter and try a few different types of learning and curriculum, and I have formed a pretty clear picture of where we need to start in order for her to have her best opportunity for learning. We will probably not be buying any curriculum this year since she is a highly self-motivated kinesthetic learner who does not focus well on anything that is not meaningful to her. We’re “planning” a modified unschooling approach with some parent-directed learning thrown in, but mostly we will be following her lead. I have seen her thrive and learn so much this way already.

    We are also planning to enroll her in a local homeschooling learning center for one class because she is very social, but she has a lot of anxiety, and we believe that helping her conquer her fears in a safe environment is beneficial for her.

    Our community offers a lot of extra-curricular classes through the local parks and rec department. That might be a good resource for you to check out as well. Our daughter was able to try out ballet in a low-pressure environment last fall through a four-week parks & rec class, and she loved it.

    I hope that this new endeavor will be a great adventure for your family!

    1. Hazel is SUPER social. I fear she will be mad we didn’t put her n school right away. We try to get her involved in out of school classes but I’m noticing that options for those drop WAY off once they hit school age! I’m hoping where we move will have more options but it’s a much smaller area and I’m not finding tons of options… In the last couple weeks I’ve been able to start connecting with some like minded (I think) parents in the general area were looking at. I’m hopeful that we can either start a little co-op or join an existing one (that I just haven’t found yet!)

  4. I’m older than you are — probably older than your parents (I have a twenty-year-old granddaughter). I was homeschooled for a short time when I was little because we lived in Alaska, too far from a school bus stop for me to attend school. And then I chose to homeschool my own children for most of their educations, though they did attend conventional schools part of the time. I don’t think you will regret homeschooling your children, for a lot of reasons. We had some of the same issues with family disapproving of our choices (on my husband’s side — my family was fine with it), but your children are YOURS and the decisions are yours to make. My daughters — now both in their forties — are glad that they were homeschooled.

    One thing I wanted to address is your comment above, that you are afraid Hazel will be mad you didn’t put her in school right away. The first thing (and she won’t appreciate this for a long time, probably not until she has her own children) is that you are older, more mature, and have more experience than a five-year-old child. Therefore, those decisions have to be yours. A five year-old (or even a twelve-year-old) simply doesn’t have the wisdom and life experience and maturity to make decisions that can have life-long consequences. (This is why we have age limits on some things, like voting, getting married, driving cars, and so on.) As parents, those decisions are your responsibility. So don’t let her guilt-trip you, LOL!

    Second, my girls did finish out school in a small private school, and I taught there for five years to cover their tuition. I taught all grades and most subjects at different times. My observation was that, in my opinion, young children shouldn’t be in a classroom setting, other than perhaps very briefly. By around twelve or thirteen, they begin to have the maturity to handle that kind of setting, the peer pressure and so on. They begin to be emotionally ready to learn in a group setting. But if I had more children to educate, I wouldn’t even think of putting them into a classroom before about that age, not even in a small school.

    Your idea of a co-op is a good one. Stuff like that wasn’t available when I was homeschooling my daughters, but my younger sister, whose two girls are the age of my grandchildren, was very involved with a homeschool co-op, and they got a lot of good out of it.

    But I think the key is to make the homeschool experience as enjoyable for all of you as possible. It isn’t all going to be a party, of course. Parts of getting an education are hard work. But some of the not-fun stuff, like memorization of things, can be made more fun — there are memorization songs for a lot of things (the alphabet, the states, the books of the Bible, and much more) and even if you don’t have a great voice, most kids love singing.

    Oh, and I don’t know if it will help with your family, but I can almost always tell the difference between homeschooled children and classroom schooled children before anyone tells me — the homeschooled children are almost always much more comfortable talking to and dealing with adults and people of other ages and ‘diversities.’ In other words, the homeschooled child is almost always BETTER ‘socialized’ than the child who has been educated in an age-segregated classroom. The only exception I can think of was a little girl whose parents had some issues of their own (mental health issues), and even then, she was probably better off than she would have been if she’d been attending school, where she would probably have been picked on and bullied. So don’t let the ‘socialization’ bugaboo dissuade you!

    Best wishes in your new adventure!

    1. You make a lot of very good points!! Thank you and I appreciate your taking the time! You are right, I do know better than Hazel about this particular aspect and it wouldn’t be very good to give into what she thinks she wants. I do think there is a time where she will want the experience of attending school but I agree, middle or high school she will probably be better prepared to handle herself and make informed decisions.

      I agree about the home schoolers social skills! I worked (in high school) with two girls who were my age but home schooled. I was flabergasted at how easy it was for them to converse with everyone and interact with management. Everyone else shut down in front of the managers but they just treated them like people… others said ‘it’s just so weird’, I was envious of their confidence and the ease they could talk, to anyone! Also, they were the absolute sweetest people, they were refreshing!

  5. Hi Macy!

    I was home-schooled for all of my primary education and I would not change a thing. There are plenty of groups out there for support and socialization. Being able to learn on my own pace I was able to get ahead in the subjects that interested me the most. Since I had the head start, I was able to enroll in college at 16, and never felt out of place. College rounded out the rest of my social and life skills through the rest of my developing years and I was able to hit the ground running in my career. I like to think I turned out to be a normal individual…my friends, wife’s friends, and in-laws were shocked when they found out about my background. People put too much of a stigma on home-schooling. I feel that my schooling gave me a superior education and better habits than going to traditional/public school.

    Go with your gut!

    p.s. I am your cousin, 2nd I believe, Marian was my great Aunt.

    1. How great to get this comment, thank you! So now I am trying to figure out who you are… Who is your dad? Kenny, Jimmy or Ronny?

  6. Homeschooling your children would probably, just like for ours, help them build up a good and balanced personality. At their own pace. This being, in our opinion and experience, a very good starting point and “lifeline” to sucessfully and fruitfully interact with others. Ours are now 30, 28 and 26 years old. Grown-ups having started their own life (after the time of “dictature of the parents”, so to say ! Each of them loved it and want to do the same with their children if and as possible.
    They built up at their own pace (which could be very different, and likely not in line with the range a standard school and grade can fit. Throughout 10 years of school, this is utterly important) academically, personnally… but also socially:
    Yes, socially, definitely: because HS kids are very naturally involved in several “extra-curricular” activites: parents easily turn into taxi drivers (!), to take them to horseback riding, soccer, judo, dance, theater, etc. These are not only physical activities or whatever: it make your children interact wit several different people (other children AND adults), all of them being usually passionate about their activity. This evolves years or months after months. It is unmatched and unmatchable with the school curriculum where your child lives, more or less 10 years with more or less the same group, same surrondings (oh yessss: primary, than high school, college,…) and more or less same group of teachers.
    Last objection we heard repeatedly and proved completely wrong: HS kids may have a better-balanced pesonality but at the cost of a lower academic level.
    No. 2 of our children naturally reached a prestigious engineering master degree, and the 3rd one a marketing one, allowing them to start working at > 80 k$ a year. That lasts. Just as a sign of relevance of the “products” they are on the labor market.
    Last thing: the word they quite often hear is “you are exotic”.
    I used to be a free-lance consultant, traveling with my family. In a few African and European countries. Depending on contract agreements, not school years…

    1. This is all very helpful information, thank you! I have looked but I have never once found a single person who homeschooled and regretted the decision. That also says volumes!

  7. We’re also planning on homeschooling after both of us working in education and hating what we saw, and also growing up in horrible public schools ourselves. My partners family actually moved to a super expensive town with the “best” school and it was still such a waste of time and money!

    The best advice we got from my friends’ mom who has homeschooled all of her kids and is also a certified teacher with multiple degrees. (She also “teaches” homeschool classes to hundreds of parents who are interested through our local co-ops.) She told us to skip big curriculums in favor of simple things, like Brain Quest workbooks that cover the basics (cheap and easy to keep kids interested) and then “deep dive” where they need extra help and where their interests are.

    She bought thousands of dollars worth of curriculum over the years and never used more than 10% of it. But now with Khan Academy and other online stuff, even buying curriculum for older kids isn’t really necessary anymore. She also suggested as they get into middle school age look for things they can do like dual enrollment with local community colleges or CLEP tests. It helps create a more formal transcript that kids need for high school graduation (usually, depends on state laws and what they plan to do after high school, etc.) She (and a few other people I talked to too) saw some of their kids finish “high school” by 15 or so, and start businesses, worked part-time, some even had associates degrees by the time they “officially” graduated at 18. So crazy cool!

    I was SO freaked out about what people thought at first, but after talking to a few “veterans” I’m more excited than ever! And since so many people I talked to recommended a really minimal approach I’m even more excited because we live in a tiny house too! Less crap the better! lol

    1. This is SO helpful! I lean toward the minimal side and often I feel like it’s plenty! I’m sure it will change as they get older but right now, ABC Mouse and Brain Quest is our go to! The kids both handle it differently, Hazel LOVES the books, Miles is less inclined but he asks a LOT of questions which leads us to family research. Thank you for taking the time to share your words!

  8. I am 16 years old. I am a senior in high school and I have been homeschooled all my life. I am telling you, it is soooo worth it. I am eternally grateful for all of the amazing experiences that the flexibility of homeschooling provided for me and my sister. WE were provided with so many amazing opportunities and adventures we wouldn’t have gotten to experience otherwise. Please don’t let anyone talk you out of homeschooling your kids. You WILL NOT regret it.
    -Chloe P.

    1. Chloe, thank you for those words! Did you personally have any points when you felt you ‘missed out’ from not going to public school? Even just a phase of ‘why not?’ or ‘what if?’ I feel like in the last few months I have really found my feet when it comes to confidence about the decision. I think the only thing that can make me question it right now is if my kids hated it or said they wished they could do school differently. If there was a time, how did your parents handle it?
      Thank you so much! Seriously.

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