I am new to homeschooling (compared to others) and have been homeschooling a preschooler for the last two years. I started homeschooling my daughter when she was almost 2 years old and have enjoyed every minute of it!
To better understand how we homeschool away from family, I first need to provide some background of our family as well as why we homeschool.
When You’re Far From Family Support
When I was in high school, I wanted to go to school away from my home state of Texas because well I kinda wanted an adventure and it was hot in Texas! So I moved to North Caroline for college. This is where I met my husband. My husband and I met back in college, but did not start dating until after college. While we were dating, he talked me into going back to school to get my Masters in Education with a focus in Early Childhood Education. He was on track to get his PhD and wanted to become a professor. This path though can be very tough so he took a Post Doc position where he could and we moved to Maryland where we had our two children. Even though we found a great community there, we moved again when my husband got a great position as a tenure track Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska. We moved to our current house when our second child was only 2 months old! I have not lived near my family for about 14 years. I have learned how to make my home wherever I ended up!
We Discovered That Homeschoolers Were “Normal”
Now a small backstory into why we homeschool in general. Our first reason we homeschool is politics. When we lived in Maryland we were not too far from DC and I found that the school systems in the area were very political. There would be an action from DC and our local school systems would want to implement them right away instead of letting things sit for a bit and work out. Therefore, I did not agree with different things happening in public schools. These were things I did not want to have to explain to a young child. We looked into private school, but I was working as a daycare/preschool teacher at the time and my husband worked for the government, there was no way we could afford to send even one child to private school! So I looked into homeschooling. I was working at a daycare/preschool at a church and many of our teenagers that helped were homeschooled. They were so normal! So it got me to talk with some homeschool parents in our area. I thought that it might be pretty fun and somewhat easy for me to homeschool (especially younger children).
Finding the Right Curriculum
I also found a curriculum that I loved while working at that daycare/preschool and wanted to use at home. Another reason we looked into homeschooling is that our first child, C, was very advanced for her age! She missed the school cut off though and it got me to thinking, if I can homeschool her she would not be on any traditional calendar for grades! Our final reason for homeschooling has really just come around. My husband is working towards tenure and then might want to take a sabbatical in another area of the country or if he doesn’t get tenure, we might have to move for him to get another job! So with homeschooling, we have flexibility of location without having to keep enrolling our children in different schools that might be at different places in curriculum.
Find Community Support
We have lived in 4 cities and 5 houses within the last 6 years! So we are always away from family! We have learned to adjust.One of the biggest things that we have found that helps is finding a community. As soon as we found out we were moving to Nebraska, I looked into co-ops in the area. I found an amazing co-op that allows young children to participate and I even started teaching right away! This provides my child a place to be in a classroom setting and interact with children and adults of all ages as well as a place for me to teach other children for a bit! It is a nice balance for a previous preschool teacher! We also have found a church (one of our first priorities) where our daughter has found friends. Our whole family attends a small group, where the older children can go and play while the adults meet for a bit (we keep the baby with the adults for now). So if you are away from your family, find a new family! This does not mean replace your family, but add to it! We now have family (blood and community) in over 6 states.
Another thing we have found that helps a ton is being flexible. Homeschooling is all about being flexible, but right now I am referencing flexibility in planning. I like to plan a few weeks in advance so that I can allow free time when family come to visit. My family likes to come every few months and my husband’s family comes as frequently as they can so we always have an assortment of people in and out of our house. We have learned that those weeks are more for adventure learning than book learning. I don’t plan anything besides field trips for those weeks. If my kids were in a private or public school, this would not be possible. They would still have to go to school no matter who was here to visit. I think this is not only beneficial to my children, but also to our extended family. We are not limited on time when people come to see us! We can enjoy life instead of being hooked to another institution.
Encouragement For the Down Days
There are days where I think, “oh I could be making money right now if I worked at a preschool” or “wouldn’t it be nice to send my children to school and get a small break during the day”, but do you know what I would miss them and they are only little once!
So if you are homeschooling right now and are feeling alone because your family lives a few hours or days away, I hope this gives you hope that it is all for good. We are getting so much time with our families that others do not get and we get to know what our children are learning and see their eyes open to new things everyday!Alyssa Leanne Riggan is a stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers. She started homeschooling her 3 year old, about 2 years ago and has jumped in feet first! Follow her journey at Teachingwithfailth.com