Homeschooling was never something that I wanted to do. Actually, I never even thought about it until my daughter started to meet a lot of homeschooled kids in the 18 months before we started homeschooling. I was a public school kid and received an outstanding education. Public schools are not so good in Mississippi, so we made the decision to send our kids to Catholic school. Everything was great until my daughter got to third grade.
In the middle of third grade, my daughter started having a lot of medical complaints. Every day she would come home from school with a headache. Every single day. That is just not normal for a third grader, and we one-by-one started to go down a checklist of possible causes. At this time we also started to realize that she was getting pretty bored in class, and her teacher tried giving her some more challenging work. Things got a little better, so I met with her teacher at the start of fourth grade about our experiences in the previous year. Her teacher said there was nothing she could do. The medical complaints quickly escalated with both headaches and stomachaches every day. She also started to get really upset and anxious about school. Every day, she would come home upset and would yell at me in frustration. One night after we were both in tears, I decided that was the breaking point. Nobody at the school was willing to talk about alternatives, so I decided that we would pull her out of school and try homeschooling for the rest of the year. I didn’t know where it would lead or how it would work, but I knew we had no other options.
I had been reading books about homeschooling for months leading up to this moment. My daughter wanted to be homeschooled, and I guess I knew in the back of my head we would probably end up there. The transition was not too bad. The most incredible part? Within a month, all of her medical symptoms and anxiety were gone. She was a healthy and happy fourth grader.
Homeschooled kids start out not fitting the mold.
When I started homeschooling my daughter, my son was in second grade and feeling very jealous. He wanted to stay home all day with mom too! At the time, he had a great teacher, and I was not even sure that this was going to be something that would work for our family. Everything went so well the first few months with my daughter, however, that we decided we would try homeschool with my son as well in the next year.
Homeschooled kids can get a reputation for being “weird”, and I guess in some ways they are. In my experience, however, homeschooled kids started out not fitting into the mold. My kids are a little different from their peers. They are used to being around adults and having a sense of independence around their education. They are active participants in learning rather than passive vessels. Their intense personalities, high intelligence, and mental maturity always set them apart from their peers. These characteristics were not the result of homeschooling. Yet, those are the characteristics that make homeschooling work for them.
You can do it.
I do have a full-time job as a university professor. I’m lucky that I have a flexible work schedule, but I’ve had to work hard to manage the demands of working and teaching both of my children. There are weeks where things don’t go as planned, and there are days where I want to hide because I feel like all I do all day every day is teach. It can be draining, but it is worth it. I have a great relationship with both of my children, which is a remarkable thing to say when you have a tween entering seventh grade. I get to read and learn along with them, and they get to spend time learning about things they are passionate about and would not otherwise learn in elementary school (such as computer programming, Russian, and Swedish). If I can do it, you can do it. You just need to believe you can succeed and be willing to put in the time to make it work. Don’t underestimate your ability to learn and provide instruction for your child.
If you have questions about homeschooling or are thinking about starting, feel free to drop me a line. We’ve been successfully homeschooling for three years, and my kids are now entering seventh and fifth grades. They are doing so well that I no longer have any intention of sending them back to school. I have a guideline for classical education curriculum that we follow, but I add in a lot of my own curriculum options as well. They take an online class every once in a while, but most of the time they just work with me. It works, and we are happy.