The Homeschool Post

Forgive the lame photos. My good camera is at the spa getting a facelift.

I never planned to be a homeschooler.  It was never something I desired to do.  Never.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my exact words in the past were, “There’s no way in H@#! I would ever do that.”

Classy.

But something happened earlier this year and a transformation began inside my heart.

Sometime after the New Year, Sloan began struggling in school.  It wasn’t a major struggle.  He was getting by just fine, but he wasn’t thriving.  Part of that was my fault.  Life was just so overscheduled.  We had something almost every evening of every week – all good things, but it left my kids bouncing in the wake of life and they were tired.

So we started cutting things out.  Good things.  And I hated it.  All the while, I shipped my worn out child off to school for eight hours a day despite his daily pleas to let him stay home “just this once.”

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating.  I don’t have major issues with the public school system.  I have nothing but respect for the men and women who choose to teach our children.  Some are better than others, to be sure and the system is far from perfect.  But it deserves respect and it has that from me.  I wasn’t necessarily upset with the quality of education my son was receiving so much as the time it seemed to take to get it.  I feel like one of the biggest flaws in our school system (and this applies to both public and private schools, incidentally) is the amount of time we are keeping our children in the school building.

Sloan got on the bus at 8:00 every morning and he got off at 3:30.  This left very little evening time for us as a family.  It also left him tired and unwilling to concentrate on any kind of homework.  He never wanted to sit and read a book and I didn’t blame him.  If I were forced to sit and listen for roughly 30 hours per week I wouldn’t want to read a book either.  That’s a lot of time for our little guys to be away.

This combined with a lot of prayer led me to seriously begin considering homeschooling.  I entertained that idea alongside the idea of checking myself into the loony bin, because I felt sincerely crazy.  Homeschooling?  Really?

Yes.  Really.

Two kids, two sets of study guides, double the crazy?

I mulled all these things over by myself for awhile, then I went to my husband.  I was positive that he would have his head squarely placed on his shoulders and would practically and reasonably talk me out of this silly little notion.

“I think you should look into it,” he said.  And then I passed out.

When I came to, he continued.  “Obviously the Lord is working something out in your heart because I’ve never heard you talk like this before, so I really think this is something we need to research and pursue.”  So being the dutiful wife that I am (wink, wink) I took his advice and began talking to every single homeschooling friend I have.  I asked them all for the exact same information:

– Give me every reason I should do this and…

-Give me every single reason I should not.

Not surprisingly, the reasons I should far outnumbered the reasons I shouldn’t, and the reasons I shouldn’t were mostly selfish in nature.  But I still wasn’t convinced, so I researched and prayed and waffled and wavered and questioned and finally decided that homeschooling was something I needed to do.  Not for me, but for them. (When I say them, I’m referring to the children…you already knew that, didn’t you?)

Ultimately, I knew that I needed to get my clutches into my kids and show them what a joy learning can be.  Even if I only do it one year, I want the year to count.  I want them to know that I was willing to give up everything for them so that they could see the magic of opening a book.

Now I’m not sure I can show the the magic in math.  Because math is not magical.  It’s just numbers. Lame.

Right after I made the decision to homeschool, we found out we were moving and the timing just felt right.  It also felt horrible.  How would I do this without a local network of support?  HOW?!

I’ll tell you how.  Yesterday, as I watched Landon at swimming lessons, one of the other moms walked up to me.  “Do you homeschool?” she asked.  I was taken aback, because why would she ask that?  What a random question?  Was I putting off some kind of homeschool vibe?  It must have been the denim jumper I was wearing…the one with the apple and ruler appliques on the front.

I kid.

“Yes,” I answered.  “This is my first year.”

“Oh you’ll love it,” she said with a smile.  “I’ve been homeschooling for years.  What curriculum are you using?”

Sonlight,” I replied.

“Wonderful!” she cried.  “That’s what we use.  Let me know if you have any questions about it.”

OMG - So many pages. I feel like I'm decoding the key to a secret world...

Is it coincidence that she randomly struck up a homeschooling conversation?  Maybe…but I doubt it.  Because today our curriculum arrived in the mail and I am thoroughly and completely overwhelmed by it all.    Thankfully, I have a new friend who will be able to show me the ropes.  And for me, that was one more confirmation that we are in the right place, doing the right thing.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go churn my own butter while simultaneously working on my needlepoint and baking homemade bread.

I kid.  I’m not going to do any of those things.  I’m going to finish my wine cooler and go to bed.

So this is the part where you join in, my bloggy friends.  Would you ever homeschool your children (or are you currently)?  Give me the best and worst.  I want to be prepared.

 

Comments

  1. – I homeschooled both girls all the way through to highschool graduation. We didn’t plan it that way. We took it one year at a time.
    – They both survived. They both thrived.
    – I don’t preach homeschooling. If that’s the path you’re supposed to go the Lord will lead you to and through it. Just because it worked for us doesn’t mean everyone should do it.
    – Math *IS* magical. One of my girls got that. The other didn’t. Oh well. Batting 0.500 isn’t so bad. 😉

    • Yes, I suppose it’s magical to those who get it. To me it’s cumbersome. Thankfully Lee loves math. That’s where he gets to have fun with the process. 🙂

  2. beka bohlmann says:

    Kelly,
    Amy told me you were going to homeschool. after i saw about your move to florida & your post about your wildreness, i found myself praying for you & smiling often! i also was never going to homeschool. never. 😉 you are in for one of the other great adventures of life . . . exhausting & grand. the hardest & most satisfying thing you will ever pour yourself into.

    enjoy the journey. avoid the jumpers. and be humble enough to “homeshool at the foot of the cross.”

    beka

  3. We’ve homeschooled for a while now. Looking back, it has been eight years, I believe. I love just about every aspect of it. The freedom is my favorite part.
    We are eclectic in nature. I like the books that Sonlight uses, but their whole curriculum is too intense for me. So, I use the catalog to order the recommended books from the library, a few at a time.
    I’ll pray for you as you take on this new path in your journey!

    • Yes, the workload does look strenuous. I don’t imagine we’ll totally keep up. I contemplated piecing the materials together too but with it being our first year, I felt like I needed the whole kit and kaboodle to getme through. And I have to admit, the literary nerd in me was GIDDY when I opened that box full of books. I imagine if we d this again next year, though I’ll order less and check out more. 🙂 Thanks Michelle!

  4. I’m sure you’ve heard me say before that the main reason I decided to homeschool was so I could disciple my children and so that they could live a much freer life. You’re right, they’re just gone too. much. of the day. And are often times being taught and influenced in the exact opposite ways that we’d want.

    • Yes – I admire your dedication and passion on the subject of homeschooling. It’s still so new and scary to me so I take a lot of comfort when I read journey’s of mothers like you! Thanks for all your encouragement! 🙂

  5. Being in the teaching field I am able to see homeschooling from both sides of the coin(parent and teacher). I have worked in the past and will again this year with students that are homeschooled. It truly depends on the parent and how committed they are to teaching their child. The students do fine as long as the parent follows through on the HUGE commitment that they have just taken upon themselves. I never have any concerns with the education perspective (as long as the parent follows through, gosh I am sounding like a broken record) :)………………My concern would be socially. That is where I see my students that are homeschool struggling. However, I know that your kids are very active in sports so you should be fine. Good luck Kelli, God knows that I could NEVER homeschool.

    • Thanks Julie. I don’t worry too much about the socialization aspect because, as you said, our kids have plenty of time for that and they’re actually quite good at it. 🙂 It will be more difficult now, though, given that we’re in a new area and don’t have established friendships. It just means I’m going to have to work harder. As far as the following through, I can see where it would be a struggle. I definitely wouldn’t plan on doing this if I didn’t think I could do it well. And if, after a year, I don’t feel like I am doing them justice, I have no qualms with enrolling them in school. We’re going to take it a day at a time!

      • Why is socialization important? I mean, as an adult, I go to the grocery store, Jiffy Lube, church, the library, etc, and I socialize in all those situations. I talk to neighbors, heck I talk to strangers walking down the street. But I don’t see it as socializing myself. It’s just living. My kids do go to public school, but the socialization argument has always struck me as “funny”. They are not involved in sports or extra curricular activities, but they socialize in all the same situations that I do.

        • Those are good points, Amy. I think the socialization argument comes into play because in the past, before homeschooling became so popular and accepted, home schooled children did tend to behave a little awkwardly in social settings. I new home schooled kids when I was younger and a lot of them did have a hard time interacting socially. It wasn’t their fault, of course. It was their parents fault for not better preparing them for group settings.

          Now, however, I don’t think that’s as much of an issue. Largely because homeschooling has become so much more common and coops have taken the place of traditional school rooms. It’s in these settings and other places like church and sports that children are able to learn common group behaviors. More importantly, though, I think it’s the job of parents, regardless of public, private or homeschool, to teach their children how to interact with others and like you mentioned, interaction is a daily activity and if we’re modeling it correctly, our children shouldn’t have a problem with that.

  6. We have always homeschooled, but our two oldest are going to public school for the first time this year (4th and 6th grade). We’re expecting our 5th (more of a shock to us than any of you) and I had to know my limitations. In January we will have a newborn, 20 month old and 4 year old and there’s just no way I could do it effectively this year. I do know plenty of others who can do it well with kids those ages, but I just can’t right now. I know there will be plenty of frustrations, and it’s scary right now but I know God goes with them. We loved homeschooling, especially in the early years and will likely return to it. I know you’ll do great! And God will certainly provide support for you. The most important thing is to follow God’s leading. You never thought God would lead you to homeschool, and I’m not sure I ever thought God would lead us to public. But he has and he will help us through the transition that follows.

    • First of all, congratulations and holy cow!!! 🙂 Honestly, I admire you for making that decision. I am nervous enough about doing this with Landon at home – I can’t imagine it with a newborn and toddlers! My original plan when I thought we were going to be in STL was to put Landon in preschool three mornings a week. But now he gets to stay home too! Good times! I look forward to hearing updates on your growing family!

  7. We homeschooled for 3 years and then we knew it was time to put them back in public school. They did GREAT! I enjoyed homeschooling….especially buying all the reading books. We did some traveling in ‘off seasons’ that was great! I have never regretted those homeschooling years and honestly never regretted putting them back in school. School is not perfect, but it certainly gave us LOTS of opportunities to be ‘light in a dark world!”

    Hope Tia’s surgery goes smoothly tomorrow!

  8. I am still seriously considering it. There is a public school in our state that I can enroll the kids under, that is for homeschoolers only. It’s free. The bonus is, I would actually be using those tax dollars that I dutifully pay. I’m a little concerned wondering if “I can do it”, but I have seen other people wonder and thrive.

  9. Never say never, but as of right now, No. Why not? Because I can’t duplicate certain things that my children need to learn from a school environment. We talked and prayed about this very thing last year before Sam began kindergarten. Academically I felt confident that he would learn what he needed at a school or from me. The things I saw as needed lessons in his little life were the things that require other authority, structured teaching in a group setting, and interaction with a number of children not related to him and even raised differently from him. Examples- accepting and respecting the authority of other adults, learning and expecting his share of time, attention, etc, interacting and engaging with those different from himself, accepting that while he may have a competitive nature he is not and will not likely be the best, fastest, smartest, tallest, most talented, most skilled, etc in every thing he attempts in life. As much as I would love to say his teacher conference after the first quarter was only glowing and happy, that would be a lie. In fact his report card had several areas that “needed improvement” 1. seeking only fair share of teacher’s attention and time 2. waiting and taking turns in play and in response to class assignments 3. aggression and attitude (in response to not being first, fastest, best, etc). There may have been a few other things, but those stood out to me and affirmed our decision to put him in a non-home-school environment. By the end of the year he had improved in these areas, in large part due to the opportunity he had to experience and practice those skills every day. I think home-school is an option- not the only option for families. Professionally, I have seen some families do it very well and others, while well-intended, did not. One mother actually told me that they “do the bare minimum.” And anther said “they do it most days for as long as they can.” If a public or private school teacher said that about the job they were doing to educate my children you’d better believe mama bear would have a few things to say about that! I don’t know what the accountability is in Florida, but when I looked into it here, I was honestly appalled at how little time and documentation is required. I do believe that most parents who choose to home-school truly desire to do it well, but I also think there should be a better system to be sure that all students (public, private, home-schooled, or other wise) are really being taught and learning what they should. So there’s my soap box. Good luck to you and Sloan!

    • Thanks Staci. I agree with what you’re saying and those are many of the reasons why we originally enrolled Sloan in school. He is a very social little guy and I was concerned that keeping him home would be unfair and maybe even a little cruel. If I’m being honest, I would tell you that I got very sad last spring during Sloan’s end of the year activities in school to think of removing him from that environment. I think there are so many wonderful and important aspects of education beyond simply learning. School really can be fun!

      But, I had to weigh that against the fact that he wasn’t really thriving. For example, on the second to last day of school they had a little awards ceremony for the first and second graders. Each teacher from every class was to pick one child from the class that they felt embodied excellence in leadership, academics and life. While all of the children were praised for their contributions to the classrooms, one child alone was chosen for this special award. There were six classrooms – three 1st grade and three 2nd. And six little girls were chosen.

      Now, I’m not one to jump on bandwagons really easily and I’ve heard the argument that public school isn’t designed to be effective for little boys. To a degree, I understand that but I don’t necessarily believe that’s the case across the board. However, this day I got very sad because what message did that communicate to the little boys in the audience? Because to me it showed that little girls, who are by nature already more docile and easy going, get the praise.

      Now again, I’mnot jumping on a public school is bad for boys bandwagon, just like I don’t believe that all girls are bad at math (just me – I’M bad at math). But I do think there are some flaws and I felt like Sloan was getting swept up in them. So for the time being, I feel like this is the best place for HIM. I honestly can’t say if I’ll do this more than one year, though. It’s a day at a time event for me. And a kid at a time. I’m not opposed to putting one child in public, one in private and one at home, if that’s what they need. I have to evaluate each of them one at a time.

      As far as doing it well vs just getting by – I couldn’t agree with you more. This was one of the things that concerned me the most about homeschooling. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it well. Because I believe my children deserve the very best education possible. I don’t at all assume to be qualified to give them the very best education but I’m more qualified than anyone else to give them the very best ENVIRONMENT possible. And that’s my goal right now. If, after a year, it seems that homeschooling my children isn’t what is best for them, I will look into other options, those being the local public school or a University model school that’s not far from where we’ll be living. For now, private education is not something I’m passionate about simply because I take issue with the cost. But like you said, never say never. 🙂 Thanks Staci!

  10. Stephanie says:

    I am so excited for you. Let me know what you think. We are starting hailey on p3/4 this year and I am so excited/terrified! Randy and I definitely feel like it’s what God wants for our family right now and I am so excited to know someone else who is using Sonlight. When are you going to start?

    • I think we’re going to start after Labor Day. Hopefully we will be moving into a house sometime the end of September at which point we’ll really kick things into gear. We’ll start light at first to get our feet wet. We’ll have to keep up with each other and see how it;s going! 🙂

  11. So excited for you, Kelli, as you start your homeschooling journey. This will be our 15th (yikes!) year. I have graduated two, will have six students this year, along with a preschooler, new born, and babysitting the grandbaby toddler. Can you say crazy!?! I love Sonlight but had to switch to another curriculum when I realized I just couldn’t do all that reading for 2-3 cores at once. We now use My Father’s World and supplement with our favorite Sonlight readers and read-alouds. Reading and snuggling on the couch is our favorite time of day. On the difficult days (there will be some) I just remember that every minute spent discipling our children has eternal value and that God will give me the grace that I need for that moment when I lean on Him. Enjoy every moment and have fun!

    • Thanks Heidi! Coming from you that means a lot. You are such an amazing example and your daughter was one of my favorite people, so I know the effects you had on her life. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  12. Whoa! You got so many great comments on this post! I’ve loved reading them and you know what I hear that makes me so happy? That as parents, we are all recognizing that each child requires something different. And when we as parents are willing to sacrifice what we might prefer for what they clearly need, that is so awesome! I love that homeschooling is an option and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a season for it in our lives.

    In the meantime, Cooper is at public school and I just try to supplement at home. The only thing bugging me so far is the point you hit on…how long they are gone vs. the amount of real work they actually accomplish during the day. I could spend 3 hours with Cooper on my own and get more done than they do in 8! Cooper is already feeling frustrated about that too. I knew he would be tired this week, but whoa. He told me he does not like how fast his days are going and that he misses how it was before. 🙁 So, we’ll keep trying and see if adjustment comes. And if not, then we’ll do like all these other great moms like you are doing, we’ll make the changes necessary for him to succeed. 😀 Excited to read about your journey friend!

    • Yes, that really is my biggest beef with the school system in general. Why do we keep our kiddos so long? For what purpose? Is it so that working parents have a place for their children? Because I really do understand and sympathize with that argument for those who are working? But again, who are we benefiting here – the parents or the kids? It’s a catch 22 and there’s no real solution other than making sure we are able to meth the needs of our own children as we see fit. Each kid is different and what’s may be right for one child or family may not be right for another. It’s nice that we’re still in a country with the freedom to choose that. 🙂

  13. Jennifer says:

    Hi Kelli-I was very interested to read this post and the comments. I never thought I would do it (and I have a few years to make a final decision), but Aaron and I have talked more and more about homeschooling. Aaron is the Director of Admissions at a local university and he works directly with homeschool families. He says that by far, the homeschool kids have much better test scores. And those same kids are NOT socially awkward. In fact, they thrive here. Many of them become the Student Activities Council President or lead other organizations. (Of course, we work at a Christian university, so that may play a role). I know that many cities have sports leagues, choirs, and other activities for homeschoolers, so I wouldn’t be concerned about the social aspect at all. But I agree with previous commentors, that whether or not it “works” depends a lot on the parent!

    I like the idea of homeschooling so that my kid/future kids can learn at their own pace. If they have trouble with something, then we can slow down. If they get something quickly, then we can move on. I also would like to incorporate more field trips for “hands on” learning. I’ll look into homeschooling a lot more down the road, and I might change my mind. But right now we are on the fence.

    • It’s definitely a huge decision. Good for you for thinking about it and praying through it now while Sawyer is little. It’s a decision that I don’t think can or should be made on a whim or lightly. Thanks for the feedback Jennifer!

  14. Lindsey says:

    Yay, Kelli!!! I can’t wait to hear more about how schooling goes! You’re gonna do great!

  15. I have considered homeschooling for the very same reasons you are doing it. My kids come home from school so tired and we don’t have time enough for family and other important things. I have decided to go ahead with public school again for this year (for now), but I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. It is frustrating to see my kids shipped off for so long every day and come home so worn out. I look forward to following your homeschool journey. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Congratulations on such a huge decision! We adore Sonlight – the literature had my daughter excited about Homeschool from day one! We have homeschooled for two years now. After several years of my oldest being in public school I just got tired of getting the very last of her energy at the end of the day. So, I agree 100% about the school day being too long!

    So glad I found your blog tonight! Many blessings on your Homeschool journey!

  17. Laughing about your homespun-ness! 🙂 I think that trying anything of this magnitude is overwhelming at first…and then you’ll find out that you don’t have to do every single thing that the lesson plan says. That’s the beauty of schooling at home- you can tailor the education to each child’s individual needs and not worry so much whether they’re meeting certain gates at a certain time in order to adhere to a mandated curriculum. And your kids become great friends. You read a lot of fun books together and discover fun things. It’s like reality TV in your own home but better! And next year, you’ll feel much more confident and will have that 6th sense for a newbie who needs a word of encouragement! {We use Sonlight, too, and love it!}

    • Ha! I hope so. Maybe I should set up a camera and film it – we’ll go all Big Brother and film ever y last detail.

      That sounds terribly boring, doesn’t it… 🙂

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