Not everyone knows they want to homeschool before their children are even born, like my co-worker, Aimee. She started researching educational philosophy, homeschooling methods and curriculum choices while her children were babies! Other couples seem to know as soon as they are married that they want the freedom a homeschooling lifestyle allows both in scheduling and in passing along a Biblical worldview to their children.
I, on the other hand, never considered homeschooling. After my first child’s precious graduation at our church’s preschool, my husband and I discussed the pros and cons of the public school system in our town, and opted to send our son to a private school. Our second child was born on our son’s first day of kindergarten. He did well there and we assumed our daughter would as well when we enrolled her for preschool at the same school.
Fast forward seven years and we realized that our daughter was going to need extra help in some classes, especially math, as she moved to the middle school years. The private school recommended tutoring…after school…at an additional cost. Now what? Did we want to extend her already long school day? Not really. Did we have the extra money for tutoring? Not really.
This is when I first considered homeschooling: not because I was drawn to the freedom of a homeschool lifestyle; not because I had done research and decided it was the best method that fit with my educational philosophy; not because I wanted to educate my child according to my religious beliefs. While these are all wonderfully valid reasons and motivations to homeschool, at the time I was thinking along more basic lines: what will be the best for her that we can afford in both time and money?
I presented the idea to my husband, “Let’s work with her one on one until she is caught up, has a good foundation for high school courses and can go back to school, however many years that takes.” “Let’s homeschool for a season.” We prayed, talked it over with friends who were homeschooling, prayed some more, approached our daughter with the idea with lots of references to sleeping later and doing schoolwork in pajamas, and prayed some more. Once we were all on board, I put in my first order for curriculum on www.christianbook.com. How did I know what to buy? That’s a story for another day!
I worked with her during the day on reading comprehension with history and literature texts, writing, and study skills such as outlining, note taking and test preparation. My husband helped with math homework and science experiments in the evenings and weekends. She had plenty of time for extra-curricular activities like music lessons, sports, book club and youth group. We added in some on-line courses as the years progressed which freed me up to work from home part-time in the evenings to help pay for child #1’s college tuition! Not every day was rosy. We had the usual tween-parent conflicts and she missed seeing her school friends daily. But we made other time to see friends and she did get to sleep later and hang in her pajamas more than ever- don’t ever underestimate the emotional benefit of doing school work in your pajamas instead of a school uniform!
After four years of homeschooling, she enrolled at the private high school and is now attending college and on her way to…whatever God has in store for her next. I’m so thankful for our homeschool season which blessed us with the opportunity to customize a curriculum for our daughter and create a family-friendly schedule within a realistic budget.