I have soo enjoyed following along with Laura and her family as they have started out their homeschooling journey. The colorful school room, centers, calendar time. I would like to go be a student for the day. As I was reading Laura’s post- I knew it was time to share our families home school journey.
Laura wasn’t sure she wanted to home school. I on the other hand always thought that I would, but then when the time came for Rachel to register for Kindergarten God led our family a different direction. One Sunday after service we were chatting with a pastor friend at our church. He had some wise thoughts on the schooling dilemma every parent faces. He said, “Some parents love their kids SO much, they send them to public school. Other parents love their kids SO much and send their kids to private school. Some parents love their kids SO much they home school their kids”. It was wonderful insight that their are many schooling options. I had seen many parents/ families compare their choice, but it caused a lot of division and hurt feelings on all sides. Each family needs to come to a conclusion for their school options in how God is leading and moving them. John and I continued to pray and decided to send Rachel to public school. In AZ, where we lived at the time, the school we were zoned for was one of the oldest in the district. The teachers had been their for years and they were dedicated to their students. John and I knew God had directed us in the right decision immediately as we meet many new neighbor families and got to know several families better that we went to church with too whose kids went to the same school. I quickly got involved in a Moms In Prayer Group (Formally called Moms In Touch). (Moms in Prayer International is a ministry where Mom’s of students of all ages get together once a week to pray for their children, teachers and school! What a special group of Moms I had the opportunity to pray with. I still keep in touch with a few of them today.)
Looking back I see God’s hand in directing us into public school not only was it a good school option for Rachel and our family but would be a huge support in the speech help that Josiah needed! (Read about Josiah’s Speech Story here)
We moved out of state when Rachel was in 6th Grade and Josiah was in 2nd. Once again we were in a place where we needed to consider our school options. We decided to continue to stay in public school. We learned that not two schools are exactly alike. There were some things we liked and some things we didn’t like.
Two years later, God was stirring us into a new direction. The influence of the other students was taking a toll on Rachel and Josiah. And Josiah was struggling with some of the academics in the classroom setting, yet excelling with a friend who was tutoring him one-on-one in a speed that Josiah could dictate. God was beginning to reveal it was time for us to try something new. So on a Monday in March of 2010, John and I went and un-enrolled our kids from public school and began to home school. We were eager to get started, yet overwhelmed with the choice of home school curriculum out there. Since we had just a few more weeks of school left at this point and a family trip to Washington DC at the beginning of summer, we jumped into learning all about the things we would see and do there and the history behind them. We also had several home school families share some curriculum books, worksheets and such and we finished out the year. John works from home and being a natural teacher took a huge role and lead in what the kids were learning/doing.
During our time in the Washington DC area we spent some time with my cousin and their family who had been on the home school adventure for several years with kids similar ages to ours. I said to my cousin Caroline, “There is way too much curriculum options to even know where to begin, what are you doing and how do I get some?” She was using Sonlight. We got that and it has been a good fit for our family. We also got Josiah started in Singapore Math, as I had heard if kids were struggling with Math, to try it. So we did and it was a joy to watch him grasp and understand the concepts!!
Rachel continued homeschooling completing her Junior year of high school. She finished her Senior year at a charter school where her last high school credits were taken in college classes. Rachel was ready for the college level and this was a great option for her. She is now about to start her last year of college. Josiah is about to start his Senior year of high school as a home schooler. We have been very happy at our choice to home school. Because we never knew any different, we just jumped in with where are kids were at. My kids could read, and write and spell and do many of those fundamental things on their own. I don’t even know what it is like to teach littles how to read. I know in some ways we have a different home school story. We have learned so many things. Too many to share. But I am going to attempt to narrow them down to the most hopeful for you.
Thoughts/ Things that Surprised Us about Home Schooling
- We were surprised at how much we liked organizing our school day schedule. We really liked not having to be involved in the daily school and drop off and pick up activities. We liked not having the rush of getting out the door each morning. It worked best for our family to use a Monday- Thursday School week schedule. It meant the kids days were a bit longer, but we liked having Fridays off. We liked to decide when to start school for the year, take what weeks off and end at what time. We found it best to work ahead in our schedule when we needed to take a day or week off. We liked taking our summers off. But we worked through some of the national holidays that the school district takes off. And sick days didn’t always mean you had to miss out on reading or working on some math.
- The home school option does allow you to help your child learn best according to their personality. It’s harder in a classroom setting with one teacher and 20 students. Rachel and Josiah learn differently. We adjusted to ways they learned best. Rachel worked better with a more flexible schedule. Josiah needed more structure and regular daily routine. Both Rachel and Josiah added in jobs to their day and we liked how home schooling gave them more flexible time schedules than just after school.
- We used tutors! We have always had a math tutor. Especially for high school math. And we have used them some in science. Don’t be afraid to get help from others and be creative to how it can work with your child and tutor.
- In our school district home schoolers are allowed to join in the extra curricular activities offered at the high school we are zoned for. Rachel was in the marching and concert band and Josiah has been in Cross Country and Track. It has been great for us. Some schools allow home schoolers to join in on certain classes too. I would consider it for a foreign language or upper level math or science.
- We had to add a line into our budget for home schooling. It had costs that we had to figure out. From curriculum mainly. To help with our initial costs, we got the bare bones of our curriculum and then checked out books from the library. Ordered used books on Amazon. Borrowed books from other families who had them. It helped a lot. But did take some extra finagling.
- When we started home schooling, we were surprised at how many current home school families responded like we finally saw the light. We didn’t see home schooling like that. We were not in the wrong during our kids years in public school. Over the years our kids had many good teachers, friends, and experiences. We are thankful for those. Even the harder things taught them to persevere, make good choices and learn to get along with all sorts of personalities. We know many wonderful teachers who teach in a public school and families whose kids go to public, charter or private school. Just like our pastor friend said years ago, I know many parents who love their kids so much they choose their schooling options.
- I have also had several people ask me, “If I am a better Mom, since I home school?”. Oh, if it was only that easy! Every Mom would run to sign up to home school. I am the best Mom when I am in prayer for myself and my kids. When I am humbly learning the things God has to personally show me daily in His Word. And when I am overflowing with His grace so that it sloshes over to my kids. Those things are the same no matter what ages, stages, and schooling my kids have been in.
I hope our story will help some families who might be considering making a change in their school option. Either in home schooling if that is how God is leading you. Or in what is best for your child/children or family. Don’t be afraid to follow how God is leading. Give it a try. You won’t ruin your kids if you make a change and don’t like it. I know God will guide you in just where He is leading. You might be surprised and you will be blessed for being obedient.