In this unprecedented year, many are making an unexpected transition into homeschooling. This post collects stories and reflection from three families who made the switch. We hope it blesses you and you are encouraged in knowing that you’re not alone as you venture into new beginnings!
Thirteen years ago, my oldest two children were in public school and I was working full-time outside the home. It was very difficult to keep up with both their school work and all of the household responsibilities. My husband and I began praying about how to alleviate some of the stress in our lives and the Lord brought to us, separately, that we needed to homeschool.
We began the homeschool journey with a lot of research and talking to those who were already involved in the homeschool community in our area. We quickly realized that the needs of each of our children that were not being met through the public school system, and set about to fill in those gaps. We took some time off to just have fun educational experiences, such as the zoo, traveling, and going to museums. I highly recommend new homeschool families to take that time!
The first year was tough. It was not exactly what I expected, but I quickly learned that, in the homeschool world, if something isn’t working, you change it! Over the years, we have changed curriculum, schedules, and the way that we do things many times as we attempt to best teach our children in the way that they individually learn, and according to their ability and path in life.
We have now successfully graduated 2, and have 2 more still in school. We are happier as a family and have been able to watch our children learn and grow in ways that would have never been possible had they stayed in public school.
Public school was, for the most part, a positive experience. It was a good way to get out of the house that allowed you to be with your friends all day long. You had a teacher who cared about your education and did their best to help you grow in your knowledge about life and the world we all live in. Public school is also where I learned that I loved to read and I loved when we would visit the library. It wasn’t all good times though. I was only in public school for four years, from Kindergarten to 3rd Grade. When I was in public school, some of the negative stereotypes related to public school started to apply. Bullying, inappropriate behavior, and troublemakers, were all problems that were happening in my school. I even was mocked by some of the other kids for having “buck teeth”.
Then we began homeschooling. I was not very fond of the idea at first. However, I quickly adjusted and appreciated the change. Homeschooling was different at first, but I made new friends, followed my interests, and school quickly became more enjoyable. I got to see more of my family. I didn’t have to sit still for seven hours straight. I could take breaks, eat whatever, do my schoolwork in your pjs, etc. I also learned how to socialize and express myself more, which was difficult for me because I was shy and was used to uniforms. I also learned how to form my own opinions and to find my beliefs due to the fact that there was no restriction against curricula including religion. Homeschooling really allowed me to continue my education and grow as a person in a healthy and safe environment.
I was so happy to graduate as a homeschooler. I always wanted an exciting graduation and not just some boring one where I was just another face in the crowd. I had my own, private graduation ceremony with my close friends and family. It also had a musicals theme which allowed for some very special and enjoyable entertainment. There was food, performances from my loved ones, videos, decorations, etc. It was like a giant party that only included the people of my choosing. It was one of the most fun nights of my life.
We had a 4th grader, a 3rd grader, and a 1st grader when we transitioned to homeschooling in December of 2014. We did alright, but my oldest asked to try public school again for 6th grade. And she did great in school, but when Christmas break came, she asked not to go back, “I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want you to send [younger siblings] to middle school!” She had seen bullying, fights in the halls, kids yelling at teachers, obscenities on the walls in bathrooms, etc. Even in her honors math class, the students were yelling at their teachers! She was and is very protective of her siblings, and I was excited that she wanted to come back.
We originally decided to homeschool because we had randomly met several families doing it, and really liked the dynamics. We didn’t really have any issues with the public school, but we just thought the schedule and atmosphere would be good for our family. First of all, my husband was working long, weird work hours, and we wanted more flexibility to be together as a family. Secondly, my middle daughter was struggling to keep up academically, especially within the standardized testing realm, and there were some teachers who didn’t know how to work with her. Her spirit was broken, and she would cry every day. We felt like we, her family, could encourage her and help her gain her spirit back. She needed to be able to have fun, to be creative, in a way that the rigidity of the school system did not truly allow for.
This was the biggest transition for us, discovering how every student learns differently. All three of our children learn very differently, and it took some time to figure out! I’ve had to become more patient, I’ve had to breathe and know that it never has to be “perfect.” I needed to learn that I did not have to mimic the school system! And this concession is also the biggest reward. Peyton has come out of her shell and we learn a lot from her. The way she loves teaches us. Homeschooling allowed my kids to spend time with their grandmother (my mom) before she passed, and the kids got to travel to see their grandfather as well.
Emma has been able to hone in on her art skills and her love for creating. She has joined a theatre program, which she probably would never have felt encouraged to try in public school. Hayden plays chess, sometimes staying out at Perkins until 9pm playing chess with his dad and the elderly people in our community.