4 years ago, my husband, our almost kindergarten aged son and I excitedly walked the two blocks from our house to the local Elementary School for the kindergarten open house. We dropped Ethan off with the other kids so they could do their little craft and my husband and I went and sat in the little tiny chairs getting our paperwork to register our son.
We walked home that night with a cute little butterfly craft and a folder full of paperwork to complete. We were fully intending to enroll Ethan in the local public school.
There were a couple of things that hung me up though. The first was that we were too close to use the bus and I was going to have to walk or drive my son to and from school (I wasn’t ready for my boy to walk by himself) and that meant I would need to haul along our 4 year old and our baby as well. The second thing was that it was a half day and when I say “half day”, I mean the school day really only lasted a couple of hours. I think I did the math and realized that he was only going to be “doing school” for a little over 2 hours a day. The third, and most important thing that was holding me back was that I had always, in the back of my mind, wanted to homeschool.
So, what was holding me back from homeschooling? Fear.
I wasn’t afraid that I couldn’t teach Ethan well. I wasn’t afraid that it would be a bad decision for Ethan. I was afraid of what my family would think. I was afraid they would think I was not doing the best thing for him.
About a month later, as I sat having lunch with a friend, I told her about my “secret desire” to homeschool and I told her how I was afraid of what family and friends might think. She was so encouraging to me. She shared her story of homeschooling her children from kindergarten through high school. And then she said something that has rang in my ears and heart ever since:
“One of the best gifts of homeschooling in the early years is that your son will not have a bunch of kindergartners telling him who he is in life.”
As I thought through the process, there were two really big things that swayed us toward homeschooling: 1) Being able to separate academics from the social, developmental and and relational angst, and 2) Being able to focus on mastery and not worry about a particular timeline. So, we made the leap. We’ve questioned it at times. The way homeschooling looks in our family has changed throughout the last 4 years. We’re still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I still get questioned by friends and family sometimes, but Nathan and I are in agreement that this is what is best for this season for our family.
I think there is a misperception that the decision to homeschool is usually one that is based on a desire to “protect” kids from the public school. In our case, the decision was based on the fact that we really believed we could create a better learning environment at home.