Can you homeschool?
The long and short answer is YES!! Absolutely and unequivocally, you can homeschool your child! Will you feel absolutely unprepared at times and insufficient? Of course. We’re human. Remember that feeling when you first found out you were about to have a baby? Did you feel overwhelmed and maybe just a little inadequate? I know I did. And I suffered those same exact feelings again when I thought about homeschooling.
I didn’t… at first…
Currently, my son is 8 years old and in second grade. He went to a public school for Pre-K and Kindergarten because I was so unsure of my ability, as just a mom, to be able to teach my child. I worried about the social aspect of his life and whether or not I would put him behind his peers. However, when my son was in kindergarten, I had a my “AHA!” moment. It was about halfway through the year, maybe about January, and we were sitting at the kitchen table working on homework… for 2 hours!?! He was only 5 years old, and we were doing more homework than I did in 5th grade!
I remembered back to the time when I was in Kindergarten. I was only expected to know my ABC’s, their sounds, how to count to 100, and my address. The rest of the time we spent coloring, taking naps, playing outside, singing songs, etc. I definitely didn’t have homework in kindgergarten. Now, however, kindergarteners are expected to know not just the letters and the sounds that they make, but they want them to be able to read CVC words, recognize at least 100 sight words, be able to read a short story, do simple math (1+1), write their names neatly, etc. etc…
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t believe in challenging young minds and all of that good stuff… but for the love of all that’s holy… these poor kids are only 5 years old! I found out that my son was only getting 30 minutes out of his 8 hour school day to spend outside for recess, was expected to eat lunch in 15-20 minutes, and that they don’t even take naps in kindergarten anymore! My mind was blown!
So after a long day in school (actually doing school for most of the day), my son would come home tired and cranky. He would often need to take a nap once he got home. And then, when he would wake up, we would have to do homework. And, of course, he was only 5, so when he did homework that meant that I had to do it as well. So we would spend what was left of our daylight hours doing more school instead of going outside and playing. This just seemed wrong, and deep down in my heart, I knew that something was going to have to change.
Changes were in the air…
At the end of that school year, I went in to talk to his kindergarten teacher (whom we absolutely loved!). When I mentioned to her that I was thinking about homeschooling my son, she got this sort of twinkle in her eye (I swear it happened!). I started to expound on my concerns about the expectations from a mere child and the hours that were spent at a desk, and she did the weirdest thing… she started nodding her head and agreeing with me. She told me that she had been teaching for over 20 years, and in that time, she has witnessed the change in the school structure for young children. She said that she agreed that we were asking too much of them, and she said, “It’s no wonder that more than half of these children are considered hyperactive.” I really didn’t know what I expected her to say when I talked to her, but I definitely didn’t expect it to go like that. However, I definitely knew what I needed to do.
I spent all summer researching homeschooling, the different methods that people used, the different curriculums, the social aspects, the activities available to homeschoolers, the state laws regarding homeschooling, the testing required, and every other single thing under the sky. In fact, I did so much research that it took me until September to finally order our books and get started. I was so nervous that I would make a bad decision, choose the wrong books, or just in general… suck at it.
Best thing I ever did!
Now, I wake up every day grateful that we are on this journey. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I think about loading my boys up in the car, driving to our closest public school, and filling out those registration forms, but those are just bad moments… and they definitely pass with time. When I am sitting with him (either at his desk, the kitchen table, living room couch, or outside), and we are working through a new concept, I get to see his little mind stretch and grow. I know that the majority of the time, our full day’s worth of school work will be done in about 2-1/2 hours, and then we can go find some fun stuff to get into for the rest of the day. I know that if he’s struggling with learning a new skill, I will be the first one to know about it, and I can address it before he starts failing on his school work. We get to count every day as a learning experience because I can tie in the concepts we talked about during school time to his every day life.
Daunting – but SO worth it
It’s intimidating and exhausting. But the reward is worth every single bit of worry, frustration, and – yeah, I’ll say it – tear that has been cried. I ask my son every now and then if he wants to go back to school, and he will look at me and say, “No mom, I really like learning here.” I never thought I’d be able to compete with that wonderful teacher of his who had endless amounts of patience, his classmates who he thoroughly enjoyed spending time, or the vast amounts of play/learning stuff that they have in the schools. But yet, here we are, and there is no place he or I would rather be.
If you have any specific questions or comments about homeschooling, please don’t hesitate to either send me an email or drop a comment below! I would be so happy to hear about your homeschool journey or your hesitation. We are all just one big community and we have so much to learn from each other!
Erin T. is a military wife, mom of two homeschooled boys, and works PRN at a local hospital. She has lived in multiple states incluing NC, VA, and KY. She enjoys writing articles about her homeschool journey and different life experiences. If you would like to email Erin directly, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.