Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Best - How Do You Decide To Homeschool?

If someone had told me 15 years ago, that one day we would be a homeschooling family, I would have stared at them bug-eyed and insisted that they had the wrong crystal ball.

I had firm ideas and opinions about homeschooling, the foremost being that it was not for me. I'll be honest, I couldn't understand why someone would decide to homeschool.

That was, until our family became a family of homeschoolers. How does such a change in personal conviction take place? What is it that found us arriving at this lifestyle choice for our family?

My husband and I have always been book a week heavy readers. Our home, from the beginning, has had piles of books bedside, sofaside, coffee table piled up to here, with books.We are a family of readers.In a very unromantic, yet  prescient act, we had both packed books for our honeymoon. Without consulting each other: we just assumed that we'd find time to read. Leisure time meant reading time.

After our children were born, within the first twenty-four hours of bringing each of our 3 newborn boys home, we held a book in front of their little faces, and read to them. There were as many books scattered in the toy room as toys themselves.

At three months old, our children were grabbing for books, and chewing on the covers. Nine months old found them crawling over to their own low level bookcase that we kept for them, and pulling out a book of their own.Yes, it was only to chew, but the recognition of what a book was, and where it was kept, was there.

At fifteen months old, they would open the book, look at the pictures, then make their way to our laps, handing us the books they wanted  read to them. As time went on, and we began our weekly trips to the library, we had already begun what we didn't recognize then, as informal homeschooling.

Our children would excitedly choose books of their interest, and we would sit at the library, criss cross applesauce, amidst piles of books, and read, point, look. They’d become immersed in a certain topic, say, anything bulldozers--and we’d delve further. They would ask questions, and we’d go find out more together. Soon, our reading together at the library about bulldozers evolved into a field trip to a quarry, and then a hands on activity of making a bulldozer out of torn construction paper bits, renting a DVD on construction site equipment, and then a discussion at dinner on all the different types of bulldozers we had learned about.

Time marched on and our oldest had reached the age where we began to look at preschools. As the majority of families do, we made appointments to see several sites. We'd visit a few schools, but our oldest son would always comment at the end of our stay,  that he felt as if he never had the chance to do any of the things he had wanted to. And so it continued, the same reaction, at all the other appointments, too.

The preschool teachers we consulted felt that it might be a good idea and appropriate for him, if we were to wait another year before starting him in a formal education setting. One year soon became two years. We were now at the kindergarten stage. We had scheduled three visits for him to sit in a kindergarten classroom. With each visit, I’d pick him up, and he’d confess that he really wanted to be home, learning what he wanted to learn more about.

After much discussion and research and meeting with other homeschooling families, we decided to take the plunge and begin kindergarten at home. We would see how it would go. No firm time commitments were made. We would just see and test it out for one year. I remember the happiness on my son's face when we told him of our decision.

There was such excitement in my heart as we began our first day of learning at home. And familiarity. It was what we had been doing all along.

Is this a permanent commitment for us? We decide year by year.

Is this just for the time being? Perhaps.

Have we decided to homeschool every year? We will decide this on an annual basis.

The liberating thing about homeschooling is that it is up to you and your family to determine for how long, and for what grade levels you will homeschool. If we had decided to do this for only one year, it would’ve been wonderful. If it had only turned out to be for six months, that would have been a blessed time in which I truly got to know my children, and their learning style. It was, and is, win win for me.

We are a homeschooling family--it's right for us. And we decide year by year, whether we will be a homeschooling family in the year to come.

There is no perfect answer, no perfect environment, no black and white. We don't homeschool because we are pro anything or anti anything. To me, this lifestyle we’ve chosen has brought our family a deeper level of happiness,closeness, and knowledge of each other that I don't think we would have known otherwise. We began homeschooling in 2005, and we are still homeschooling in 2010. This works for us now and we will decide whether or not to continue as long as all of us feel happy and satisfied with the style of learning we’ve chosen.
This post was originally prepared for mamapedia. I was so thrilled when they decided to publish it.  If you have a subject you'd like to write about for mamapedia, you can submit it for review.  Good luck!


  1. The Next MarthaSunday, March 27, 2011

    Wow. I love the idea of homeschooling. I think. As long as I don't have to be organized. My son also loves gym. I don't like to exercise. Great post. Love how you make it your own experience.

  2. I love books and my baby loves books and I loved the stories about your kids and your husband and all your books. Book lovers unite! And good for you for homeschooling your kids. What a challenging yet rewarding feat.

  3. We're very similar! I would never have imagined back in the day that I would be a stay at home HOMESCHOOLING mother...but I love it! This is what is working for us now & we're very happy. We're giant book lovers too. :-)

  4. Great post! I knew I wanted to hs from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I let "the norm" pull me away from it though and sent Indy to a very expensive private K and it was a disaster. He was bored to tears. We knew we would be moving twice during his 1st grade year and the thought of him going to 3 different schools in the space of a few months was not something I was comfortable with. I decided it was a sign that I was meant to hs him. Convincing James Bond (whose mind was far less open about this than mine) was difficult, but after that first year, he saw that it was a good fit for us and that Indy was learning and so happy. We're now in our 3rd year and while it is a LOT of work at times (especially with Indy being dyslexic-something we probably wouldn't know if we weren't hsing), but the rewards are well worth it.

  5. Although we never home schooled, I read to my children from an early age. It's a personal decision for each family, and there is no right or wrong answer. The family across the street from us home schools, and both of their children are ahead of the learning curve.

  6. we split the difference...T stayed home until they went to kgarten...we did preschool @ home and then sent them to public school...i think there are merits to both...

  7. I love how you just put yourself out there without being preachy. I love this post and love self-directed learning!

  8. Interesting. Not that I am ready to jump in just yet, but I have been one of those that has said that could never be me- particularly with my son would has NVLD (a type of asbergers). But in light of recent turn of events I have been thinking. Just thinking. But it was interesting reading this. Thanks for sharing you story.

  9. I love your homeschool story!! I'll have to tell you mine one day. Hope you have a great week, madame. <3 xo

  10. I couldn't do it. Nope. Don't have it in me.

    Yay you though!

  11. We are that same reading family - books EVERYWHERE in our house. My dream home will have built-in bookshelves in every room. Maybe then we can corral them.

    As to homeschooling, it's not for us, but I like your approach!

  12. love reading all your comments here. There are myths and urban legends on homeschooling. I remember the jokes, too: the "you can't homeschool, where's your long braid and denim jumper?"

    There are homeschoolers, nonschoolers, virtual scoolers, unschoolers, and all homeschool for different reasons.

    Life is a surprise, isn't it? Whoda thunk???

  13. Kudos to you and your family! I don't think I could hs without yelling at my kids.

    My daughters are voracious readers though and we often have family reading time, it's great bonding.

  14. I've always had definite ideas about homeschooling too, but my opinion was skewed by a misconception that families homeschooled in order to shelter their kids. That, of course, worried me. Once I started blogging and met all of you wonderful homeschoolers who are actually using the time to actually educate your kids about a wide variety of topics - wider even than formal education - my opinion definitely changed.

  15. I like how you take the decision to homeschool year by year. I love reading and have been able to pass on my passion for it to my kids so far as well.

  16. When my kids were growing up, this wasn't something you heard much about. For kids who are able to thrive in the HS environment and parents that can handle it, I think it's fabulous!

  17. Good for you! I love the idea of home schooling but so far my kids all adore pre-school and Sophia can't wait for kindergarten. She thrives in a mess of children and then we read and make art and talk and take field trips in the afternoon. I will miss some of our time in the afternoon but I am happy that ourelementary school is 7:30 to 1:45 so we still get a lot of time together to learn and play.

    I really appreciate your story and think it is wonderful that you listened to your son and what was right for your fam!

  18. I admire anybody who wants to home school but personally? i would never have the patience or desire to do so. I actually cheered when all three of my kids were in school all day.

    I couldn't have survived without the down time that it brought...i suppose i suck.

  19. I'm at the end of 18 years homeschooling. I am glad we were able to make the choice based on what worked for our kids.

    I don't think everyone should homeschool.
    I don't hate public schools. Hell, I work in one.
    They just weren't for us.

    But I really would love to see every parent evaluate every child and make educational decisions based on what's best for that particular child.

    I definitely do not wear a denim jumper or have a braid, although I am wearing jeans and a pair of tie dyed underwear. I mean I have other clothes on, too.

    Just sayin'.

  20. This is awesome - and a great look into your family's life. I am a huge fan of homeschooling, but DH is not so much. He's concerned with the social aspect of school and with kids learning to get along with other kids, making friends, etc - do you try to address this at all? If so, how?

  21. How did I not know you were a homeschooler?? Probably bc I am one of the least-connected homeschoolers out there, and just kind of muddle along making it up as I go. :)

    We did it for the first time this year, with my middle one (boy, Kindergarten). I have love love loved it, but with my oldest in 'regular' public school we've not really had the chance to stretch homeschool legs & do some real adventures.

    I am conflicted about what to do next year, really I am. I personally am struggling with a real lack of 'me' time - not for spa days or pedicures, but for writing, thinking, cleaning and organizing. I feel like school takes up so much energy (planning, executing, etc.) Got any tips for this particular feature of HS?

    Would love to pick your brain on all this. Thanks for a wonderful, positive and non-judgy McJudgerson post. :)

  22. Never knew that was an option when mine was growing up. Not that I would have had the chance. But in the "swayback" machine; I must have done something right. He thanks for being a good mom.

    But he's a wonderful son...

    Good for you, A!

  23. Yep books are important and nobody ever believes me and I wouldn't believe anyone who told me either unless I saw it for myself but when my daughter was not quite a year old .....I would tell her the title of some random book in her room and tell her to bring it to me. And She Would! There were at least 20 books out at one time and I rotated them throughout the week these books would be out, the next week another set of books.........We have well over 100 books in our own collection and check out at least 20 from the library every week.............

    My favorite was when I'd tell her to bring Row Row Your Boat because that poem was in a book of about 100 other poems and she would bring the book, set it on the floor and page through the book until she made it to Row Row Your Boat. She wasn't even a year old!!!

  24. I admire anyone who can advocate for homeschooling without being preachy too -- and a lot of homeschoolers I've encountered are much less preachy than I assumed they'd be (yep, judgy on this side too, I've never denied it). Although I'm a little unclear on the link between voracious reading and the need to homeschool - we all eat books in my house too and I love our public school. If one of my kids had had needs that weren't being met, I absolutely would have considered it. As it is, the reading and music that we do at home just supplements their education.

  25. Hey, congrats on your THETA feature! And, thank you so much for your kind comments on my SITS day!

  26. I remember reading this post when you published it originally - and it still gives such insight into you and your family. I have such admiration for your ability to homeschool. Among other talents. :) XO

  27. We are a public school family, on a "yearly" basis. We just haven't made the decision to home school yet, but it's never off the table.

  28. If I could have taught them a second language, I suspect it would have been an option for us.

  29. I am impressed. If I could JUST read/write with my kids, I would think homeschooling were a dream. But math? Holy cow. My kids were over my head by fourth grade. Can't imagine chemistry, physics, calculus (let along algebra/geometry).

    I assume most homeschooling parents need support in some subjects (is there online tutoring or workbooks or what?) but I'd be intimidated by the responsibility.

    I love that you'd take a book about bulldozers and then visit a quarry. I think I'm just too lazy.

    That's the bottom line. How sad to admit, but true.

    Loved seeing this side of your life and thanks for not being preachy. Very cool.

  30. Just that description of the bulldozer "unit" makes me want to send my kid over to be schooled (if not brought up by) you. Amazing. I've taught film to some home schooled teenagers in the past, and they were startlingly original thinkers. Chicken v. egg as far as causality goes, but probably a bit of both. Let me know when Mooch and I can attend your school via internet.

  31. what a great post. i love the *idea* of homeschooling, but i dont think i would like the reality. i always make a list of things i want to make sure to teach/do with my kids in the summer at "mommy camp" as we call it :)

  32. I love that you homeschool your boys simply because it's what you are choosing that works for your family. And that your family considers education and learning to be a joint activity between all of you.

    This is a great post, Alexandra!

  33. Admit it, you homeschool because you want to be just like The Pioneer Woman.

  34. I didn't know that you homeschool. We are just beginning to search for preschools with a very open mind that, if it doesn't work for us, we will homeschool. Now I know who to consult with to help me get started ;).

  35. Love this post! Loved it when I read it on mamapedia and love it now!! Excellent :)

  36. I keep saying that I would never do it. But, as we look at kindergartens for my middle son, I should have learned to never say never.

  37. This is very cool. I can understand how one would decide to do that. The school system here works for me so I don't need to go that route, but I think it's excellent at the same time.

    I do feel guilty for not spending enough time teaching my kids things, doing activities. It's mainly my lack of organization I think.

  38. It is amazing what we think we'll be like and what we'll do in the future and then bam! we take a completely different road. I think it's fabulous that you homeschool. My kid's only 3 so we haven't made any decisions but my step-mom homeschools my half-brothers and sister and they are all super duper smart and really cool!

  39. Wow, I SO enjoyed reading this post. I've had it starred in my reader for days now but am just now getting here to comment. I've never read a perspective like this and it's really eye-opening. I usually think of homeschooling for reasons of being anti- or pro- something like you mentioned... or perhaps when having a child with special learning needs. I've always said I wouldn't homeschool my kids (not because I'm against others doing it or anything), but can honestly say you've helped me be more open-minded for it in terms of my own family. You've given a very unselfish perspective and I love that. Thanks.



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