Last year our family took a huge leap of faith. We switched from a double income family to a single income family and we started homeschooling our son who had completed pre-k through 1st grade in a public school. I want to share a little bit about our homeschool transition, curriculum choices, and the dreaded question of socialization.
Our Public School –> Homeschool Transition
Why We Considered Homeschooling
Homeschooling had never felt like an option to me in the past because I didn’t think that I was qualified, I didn’t know any other homeschooling families, and I was so busy. It wasn’t until after having my second child in 2014 that I really started to consider it as a possibility.
I dreaded going back to work from maternity leave so badly because I knew that my calling and my purpose was to raise our children and take care of our home…I am not saying that every woman has this same calling so please don’t misunderstand.
My husband and I ran the numbers (see this post for more on that) and prayed like crazy about what step we should take and we were led to the decision that I should resign from my position to become a stay at home mom. I resigned in January of 2015.
Fast forward to May—> Our oldest child (referred to as Q1 from here on) was finishing up first grade at the tiny school that I graduated from. The teachers were great, but Q1 wasn’t thriving. He needed a lot of one-on-one work in reading and he wasn’t able to get that in public school. He was falling behind, but he was being passed to the next grade to fall behind even more. At the end of 1st grade he was reading at about a pre-k level. I had worked with him at home, but it just wasn’t enough. I started looking into the idea of homeschooling for a year just to see if the daily one-on-one interaction would benefit him. (pssst…After a year he is reading on a 2nd-3rd grade level…whoop whoop!)
What Made Us Take the Leap?
During the first four years of my son’s life I missed a lot. I was a full-time college student working two part time jobs so day care workers and grandparents were able to witness his growth and his spirit in a much deeper way than I was able to.
I felt like it would be such a blessing to be the primary influence on my kids and to be able to see their struggles, their accomplishments, and their “ah-ha!” moments first hand. I was very excited, but my husband was on the fence about it. Luckily for me, we were planning to move about an hour away from the home we were in at the time and our son would have been switching schools mid-year. We didn’t want that so we decided that trying this out wouldn’t hurt anything.
My husband was still concerned about it a little bit, but I was extremely excited. I had always wanted to be a teacher & a more involved mother and now I had the opportunity to teach my own children full-time!
I was that kid in elementary and middle school who just couldn’t wait for the Scholastic book fairs. My excitement about books and curriculum was over-the-top. Thankfully, I have held onto this quirky little trait of mine or I would be totally overwhelmed by the curriculum choices that are offered to homeschooling families.
If you are thinking about homeschooling, I definitely encourage you to reach out to other homeschooling mamas for advice because the curriculum world can be daunting at the beginning. I am blessed to live in an area with an amazing group of homeschooling families. They gave me tips on good boxed sets to start out with and I ran with that.
Boxed curriculum is great if you are just starting out because everything is laid out for you. You don’t have to plan lessons or activities…all of that is already completed. We chose My Father’s World which included Bible, History, Science, Music, Art, and some Reading. We added in Math U See, All About Spelling, All About Reading, and First Language Lessons. This worked well for us for the first semester, but after we started to find our style and our “groove” we realized that this wasn’t going to continue working for us. We went ahead and swapped the boxed science set for Apologia Astronomy. That was an excellent move for us.
We have just completed home school year one and we have discovered that we are eclectic homeschoolers. This means that we like to pick and choose what works best for us in each subject instead of using prearranged sets.
Keep an eye out for a post devoted solely to our homeschool curriculum!
This was a big learning curve for me. Deschooling is taking your mindset from the formal school room idea to the idea of cultivating a lifestyle of learning.
When we started this journey, I wanted a school room set up (lots of parents do that and it is fine), a set schedule of when work would be completed, 8 hours of work each day, and I pretty much tried to turn our ho me into a school. I quickly learned that this defeats the purpose of homeschooling.
Our purpose with our kids isn’t to drill them until they can properly complete a test or stand in a single file line, it is to teach them to LOVE learning! In order to accomplish this, we have to break a few rules.
Field Trips & Clubs
The overused phrase, “the world is our oyster”, couldn’t be more relevant to the path we have chosen.
After the deschooling process, we discovered that learning happens in so many places other than a desk. Q1 does book work at a little school desk in our dining room and then we read on the couch or outside on the porch or patio. He searches for new things to explore in our backyard and he makes his imagination come to life when he builds with Legos or in Minecraft.
We might replace our constellation lesson with a trip to the planetarium. Our biology/anatomy lessons might just take place in a field or by our pond as we fish, hunt, and process livestock and wild game. Anything and everything can be turned into a learning opportunity. I am so glad that we are out of the 8-hours-a-day-at-a-desk grind.
What About Socialization?
This is the number one question that I hear about home-schooled children and it baffles me. Sitting in a room with 20 kids of the same age not being allowed to move or talk doesn’t sound like socialization to me.
Since pulling my son out of public school, I have seen amazing improvements in his behavior and social skills. He is able to interact with people of all ages and we have no lack of time with kids his own age. Check out these photos if you don’t believe me.