Why do you Homeschool? That seems to be a pretty popular question for homeschooling parents, though I find it a little amusing. I don’t think I’ve ever walked up to a friend and said “Why do you take your child to public school?” I know it’s not usually meant in a negative light, and its probably just curiosity peaking in yet I still have to smile anytime someone asks me.
Here’s the thing though, I haven’t always homeschooled and I currently have two children in the public school system. You see I wasn’t one of those moms who proudly announced before I even had children that I would be a homeschool mom. Nope. That wasn’t even a thought in mind. I grew up going to public school and to be completely honest with you…. I didn’t know a thing about homeschooling.
When my first child turned five, he started kindergarten like all of his friends. We had wonderful experiences with the school and teachers- never thinking twice. Then my second child came along. She was a busy little girl who couldn’t sit still for the life of me! I often joke that if she was the first, she would have been the last ha-ha! Not because I don’t love her dearly, but because she pushed every.single.boundary!
I knew pretty early on that [K] was different. Her mind seemed to work ten times faster than any of the other children and sure enough within her first month of kindergarten she was diagnosed with ADHD. Now let me say, I was one of those people who didn’t believe that ADHD was a “thing”…. until I experienced it first-hand. It’s really hard to put into words what a child with ADHD is like, but let me sum it up for you like this. Imagine that your brain is playing a TV show, only someone else has control over the remote and they are flipping the channels as fast as they can. That’s what it was like for my [K]. Her kindergarten year came and went and though she had some struggles her teacher assured me that she would learn enough to move onto first grade. First grade came in what seemed like a very short time but this year [K] struggled. She couldn’t stay focused, she couldn’t absorb the lessons and by the end of the year my sweet precious girl couldn’t even read.
That summer I worked and worked with her and I just knew that I had to do something. I remember telling my husband that I thought homeschooling would be a really good option, even if just long enough to catch her up. He was worried about her socialization – which in hind sight was hilarious since I was running a daycare at the time. After a lot of discussion, we decided [K] would be better off staying home and we decided to keep our oldest [A] home as well, since he would have been moving up to the middle school. We were not prepared for that and neither was he.
That year we homeschooled for 6th and 2nd grade. I won’t lie and tell you it was rainbows and butterflies. It was hard. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so afraid I was going to cause more harm than good. As the year went on though, I found that I COULD teach my children. I learned a lot about them as little humans that I didn’t know before homeschooling. I had been sending them off for the best hours of their day and getting little grumpy people back at 3pm. By the end of the year, [K] was completely caught up and reading!
I was sure I would continue to homeschool but both the children wanted to go back to public school and I wanted them to be happy in their education – plus their dad was deployed and I was on my own for six months. So the following year they returned to public school.
For [A], this was probably the best decision. He just functioned better with teachers and peers. He will be a senior in High School next year and he is still in Public School where he plans to stay.
[K] on the other hand, she struggled. She struggled through 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade. I should have pulled her out sooner but she really wanted to keep trying because she loved being with her friends. Then during 6th grade things got rough. For starters the school implemented common core. Now, I know some people hate it and some people love it but for us it was more a matter of it being implemented after 6 years of doing math the complete opposite way. [K] tried so hard, she just couldn’t grasp this new way of doing math. If that wasn’t hard enough she dealt with a teacher who had less than appropriate teaching methods and children who bullied her. By the end of the year we were both done with school.
Her dad and I sat down with her to discuss our options and she decided that she wanted to be homeschooled again. This was a really tough decision for me, because I run a daycare and because I would have to tell our youngest daughter [B] that she would be staying in public school. I knew that as an upcoming 2nd grader [B] would need more one on one help and I just wasn’t sure how that would work with daycare. We ended up pulling [K] and homeschooling and keeping the other two in public school.
At first we started with a program called K-12 online but within 6 weeks we realized this was not a good fit for us. While it was a strong academic program, it just moved faster than [K] could keep up with. We switched to independent homeschooling and we have both LOVED it. It took a bit to get it down pat and figure out what her learning style is, and what it isn’t but it’s been amazing. She is so much happier! If you ask her which she prefers she will tell your hands down- homeschooling!
After a lot of family reflection we’ve decided that both girls will stay home next year. I will be switching to a before and after school program for my daycare and spending the days with my two girls. We are all excited about this next chapter!
At the end of the day, you must know that there are no cookie cutter reasons for homeschooling. It is a personal family decision. It doesn’t make me a better parent; it just means it works for us.
Stay tuned for a review of the Curriculums we used this year.