I first learned about homeschooling when my son was just about to turn 3.
“When does he start school?” was a common conversation starter at that time. It never really occurred to me that 3 year olds went to school. I actually attended nursery school when I was in my pre-kindergarten years, but that was just playing and finger painting and napping and reading and engaging in copious amounts of Ring Around the Rosie. It was more like one big play day everyday, more like something we were already doing.
We already do that stuff at home, I would think to myself, as “oh, I don’t know, maybe next year” would come out of my mouth as a default answer before quickly changing the subject.
After the first half dozen school inquiries came (fast and furiously, mind you) I got a little neurotic and started googling our local preschools, nursery schools, classes, programs… times… prices… payment plans. The idea of preschool lost me at payment plans.
I then switched my googling strategy to finding alternative ways to educate my children, preferably fo’ free. What I found were nine bazillion articles on homeschooling.
Pshaw, I thought, I will NOT be having friendless, socially defunct children who are stuck at home all day. And anywho, I’m not qualified to be a teacher.
Despite my serious skepticism, I looked into homeschooling a bit more. Actually, I spent about a thousand hours researching endless reports, articles, personal accounts, basically anything I could find regarding at-home education. After considering both sides of the fence, in the end I decided that educating my children at home is something that I can do. It is something that anyone can do, if they have the time, the patience, and the determination. The fact that I don’t have a formal degree in education might mean that I’m not qualified to teach rooms full of children, but my own two are an entirely different ballgame. I brought them into the world without a degree, I taught them how to eat, speak, walk, listen, respect and love without a degree. I mean seriously, what’s a little fact learning along the way?
One might worry that my children aren’t learning the important art of socialization by not being in a classroom full of other kids a few hours a week. Rest your fears, my kids are perfectly fine. We go out in the world, we attend story times, field trips, play dates, parties, family functions, local children’s activities, we go to playgrounds and museums and libraries where there is frequently an abundance of little people. My children have a regular group of friends that we’ve met through our local homeschool group. I don’t hide us under a rock or succumb to other reclusive tendencies, and my homeschooled children, as well as thousands of others, are perfectly socialized.
My son Chris is about to be 5 years old. Next September he qualifies for public kindergarten enrollment. It would be easy to send him off and “lighten my load” Monday through Friday. If he asks to go to school, I won’t say no. But this home-learning journey of ours is going well and I’m not quite sure that I want to send him off. I’m learning alongside my children, and I’m not talking about ABC’s and 123’s. I’m learning about how to embrace my children’s ever-changing personal interests with enthusiasm, how to flourish and fail alike with perseverance and dignity, how there is always more to learn about any single topic, how to ask for help, and how to grow a child.
Homeschooling is a personal choice for us, and it may not be a good fit for everyone. There are many reasons to homeschool (or not to, for that matter). When people ask us why we homeschool, my answer is this:
“It works for our family.”
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