our journey to homeschooling part 1
I am often asked questions about our decision to homeschool, the what's, why's, when's and how's. I want to share all of this information with you but admit, it's a lot. I decided I would start at the beginning and answer first, why we chose to homeschool. To capture the story in a single post would make for a really long post, so I want to do it in parts. I also want to add this disclaimer, I respect all schooling choices. I do not believe that one approach is superior to another. Each family is different as is each child's strengths and challenges. This is just the choice we made with our younger three children. My older three girls attended public school. This is our story of how homeschool came to be the right choice for us at this time.
Some Back Story
I haven't always been a homeschooling mom, I became one about three years ago in 2015. I wrestled with the idea for two years before that. I have to admit that that two-year struggle to commit to this choice was driven primarily because homeschooling is somewhat counterculture. Less so now than years past, but still shrouded in skepticism and sideways glances.
My original interest in homeschooling was born from my desire to ensure that my children were receiving the best education possible and a means of safeguarding them from our overly secular world. But I felt a constant battle between balancing protecting them from harmful influences and teaching them to actually stand firm in who they are despite the negative influences. This internal battle raged for two years, my indecisiveness resulted in many tears being shed and too many tense moments with my husband who was understandably exhausted from my indecisiveness. He loved and supported the idea of homeschooling so for him it was an easy decision. But of course it was an easy decision for him, he would not be the primary educator!
4 Year Old Preschool
During those two years of struggle, we had one child in 7th grade, one in 6th and our youngest son began his formal education in 4-year-old preschool. His experience in PK-4 was traumatic, despite having one of the best teachers in the world. We chalked his daily crying up to separation anxiety and kept encouraging him to "just keep swimming." We white-knuckled our way through the school year. He completed PK-4 and was promoted to K-5 with hesitation on his teachers part, in-fact, she felt he should repeat PK-4. I am embarrassed to admit as an educator the thought of him repeating made me feel like a complete failure, and my own self-interests led me to insist that he would be okay to advance.
The following fall he started kindergarten. We were fortunate to once again have an incredible teacher. While my son cried fewer tears in kindergarten, other issues began to surface. It's funny how when your child begins to show problems in school there are stages that parents go through in accepting that your child may have a learning disability. I liken it to the stages of grief, and I spent a long time in a place of denial. With each denial of a problem came an excuse for why he didn't understand this or that, almost always I blamed curriculum and what I consider to be the over demanding requirements for kindergartners. I spent that entire school year in denial while feelings of anger began to grow. I can't even say for sure what I was angry about specifically or who I was angry with. I just knew that I hurt profoundly watching my boy struggle and I couldn't do anything to stop it. Kindergarten ended with yet again the recommendation that my son repeat the grade, and I am ashamed to admit that I once again refused that option. My refusal this time had less to do with my own pride or denial, in fact, I had come to realize that there was a problem going on that another year of kindergarten was not going to address. The challenge ran deeper than needing another year to "mature" and more time with the materials. Something deep inside told me that repeating would not help and in fact, it would likely chip away at this self-esteem. This was when the thought of homeschooling shifted from an idea we were considering to something that may, in fact, be necessary. Our conversations about this reality and my research on homeschooling options began in earnest.
Stay tuned for Part 2....