Everybody’s journey to homeschooling is different. I’m always fascinated by what leads families to homeschool. Some parents knew before their kids were born that they wanted to teach their kids at home. For others, a traumatic experience in public school jump starts them down this path. Some homeschool to ensure their kids internalize their families beliefs and values. Others have non-traditional learners who don’t fit well in a school setting. There are as many paths to homeschooling as their are homeschooling families.
Honestly, I never considered homeschooling my kids before I had my own. I remember having a conversation with my husband when I was pregnant with my first where we talked about public school vs. private school vs. homeschool. The homeschool portion of the conversation took about 5 seconds. We both agreed it was too weird and moved on.
At the time, we were both adamantly on the side of public school. We’d both done very well in that setting and went on to great colleges. Private school was moderately attractive, but also expensive and more uncertain in terms of quality. We felt that public school offered more of a real world environment and we didn’t want them to grow up feeling too “privileged” or “sheltered.” Our kids were DEFINITELY going to public school.
Then we had kids. When I decided I wanted to send my 2 and half year old to preschool to learn to interact with kids his own age, our town didn’t have a public preschool. However, there was a little Montessori school about a mile from our house and I fell completely in love.
The more I read about Montessori education, with the interest-led learning, the lack of grades and tests, the hands-on material, and the freedom kids have to make their own decisions, the more in love I became. I was convinced that our kids would go to Montessori private school instead of public school.
The only problem? My kids didn’t particularly want to go, especially my second child who cried at drop off for months. We’d made plenty of friends with other families by that time, so socialization no longer seemed like an issue. My kids were on track or ahead in academic areas. I couldn’t help wondering why I continued to send them.
That was when I started to read more about homeschooling. At first, my husband thought I was crazy. Homeschooling wasn’t even on our radar. However, I was convinced that I could keep all the aspects of Montessori that I loved, while making sure my kids were well enough integrated into society through friendships and extracurricular activities. Best of all, my kids would have such a big role in shaping their own educational path, that I felt certain we could keep the spark of curiosity and love of learning alive.
My 4 kids are still relatively young. The oldest is currently going into fifth grade. I HOPE that this homeschooling journey lasts a long time, but I don’t know what the future holds. At the moment, homeschooling is going really well. My kids are learning, creative, and curious. They have a lot of friends. We are presently sheltering-in-place during a global pandemic, but normally, they each have a couple extracurricular activities that they love participating in each week and we socialize with friends regularly.
Best of all, I feel like our family is a cohesive unit. I love all the time I get to spend with my kids and watch them play and learn and grow. Also, they have such varied and interesting relationships with each other. I can’t imagine them being so close if they went to school. Do they drive each other crazy from time to time? Absolutely. But they also know that at the end of the day, we are all on the same team. Plus they have built-in buddies and partners-in-crime for whatever crazy adventure they decide to pursue on any given day.
People sometimes ask if I’m planning to homeschool all the way through high school. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m willing to experiment to find what works for our family and right now, homeschooling is working really well.