I am fortunate. I never had anyone question my ability to homeschool because I am a teacher, and was an elementary teacher for many years before I had my first daughter. I guess the fact that I have taught all ages and grade levels from elementary to middle-school, to high school and college and have a master’s degree in education helps some too.
Although no one questioned my ability, some questioned my decision. I did have a few people to convince; namely, my mother and my aunt (a veteran public school teacher). Not really feeling the need to explain my decision to just anyone who asked, my mantra became, “I was a public teacher for too long and that is why I homeschool.” I usually said this with crooked smile in a slightly flouting manner. No one ever argued with me.
I recently had a conversation with one of my “mentoring moms”, and I suggested that she and her husband arm themselves with facts and have a short response ready for whenever they encounter resistance. Sometimes people ask, not because they want to argue or shoot you down, but because they are truly curious how homeschooling works. Gather your information and have it ready for such occassions. Side note: I think I will write a blog post about the “facts” that I suggest people keep close at hand for those naysayers or curiosity hounds.
The conversations I’ve had in recent weeks has me looking back on my own decision to homeschool and I’d like to share it with you. My reasons may surprise you. Before I go on, let me tell you that my perception of homeschooling was not good. My only experience of it was when moms would bring their kids back to my classroom after giving homeschooling a go, and finding out that their child was “too stubborn”, “too lazy”, “too defiant” , or “too fill-in-the-blank.” Most moms were exhausted, stressed out and over it. Secretly, I thought, of course you can’t homeschool. You can’t recreate a classroom like mine in your home, and I still believe this. Why? After you finish reading this blog post, see #3 ‘Homeschooling is a Lifestyle’ here.
It took me exactly one and a half days to know that homeschooling was right for our family, and my husband actually came to the decision before me. It was a sunny summer day and we got our daughter up and dressed early, packed her little lunchbox and continued brainwashing her about how much fun she’d have at the Montessori summer camp. She was three years old. My idea was that she’d go to summer camp in preparation pre-school that fall (she would have been four in October). I thought it would be a good idea to “get used to it” early so that we could get through the inevitable crying and clinging that would surely before fall.
My husband came from his office to meet us there for drop off that morning to show his support and to encourage her. I walked her in and, not wanting to be that mom, I didn’t hang around with her for too long other than to show her all the little stations inside and help her get up at a bead-making table with some other kids who seemed to know each other.I left her there on the little front porch sitting all by herself, clinging her little lunch box to to her chest and drove away with her sister in her car seat in the back. My husband drove away last, and did not tell me until later that he cried all the way back to work. Me? I did not cry, (I was A Teacher; I knew that kids cried the first day of school, and I thought that was perfectly normal!) but my heart was torn out.
I paced all morning and waited for the teacher to call at lunch time like she promised (she said they called every parent of new kids the first few days) – hooray for that teacher! She did call me at lunch time, and told me that my daughter had cried quite a bit, but seemed to be doing better. I paced for the next two hours until pick up time. When I got there she was playing hide-and-seek outside with a couple of other kids. She was no longer crying. Still, I did not want to send her back the next day. Everything inside me said not to, and my husband didn’t want to either, though he deferred to me, The Teacher. And I decided to let her give it another try.
Another morning of pacing. At noon the second day, the Montessori teacher called again to say that my daughter was crying and I immediately got in my car and picked her up. I called my husband to tell him that we were all going home together and that we were not sending her back and he was also relieved. It just wasn’t right.
That afternoon I called the director of the school and told her to tear up the registration form for fall, that we would not be enrolling. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had because I knew intuitively that it was the right thing for our family.
There are other reasons why we homeschool, and I’m sure many of you have these same reasons, however, the number one reason we homeschool is because we know it is right for our family. Other reasons include: the fact that we don’t want our girls exposed to things that they are not ready for. We know that we can give our kids a better education than they’d get in any school; public or private. We like the flexibility. We want to be the primary educators of our children. And . . . we love being with our kids! I am with them much more than their father, since he does go to an office every day, but I don’t want to send my kids away. I enjoy their company and I enjoy seeing them grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually every day.
We have never once looked back or questioned our decision. We have not wondered if she (or her sister) would have been better off in a “real” school. We know that what we offer them is so much more than they’d get anywhere else. And, because we know it is the right thing for our family. And sometimes that’s the only answer you need.
Please comment and tell us your number 1 reason for homeschooling!