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Welcome to the “Why Homeschool?” Guest post series. This week we are blessed to hear from Shecki who blogs at Greatly Blessed. She is a mom to 8 children! I hope you enjoy her thoughts on homeschooling- I know I have.
“Education is a year by year, child by child decision.”
–our family motto
This is my 15th year of homeschooling at least one of my children. I currently have 7 children at home, and I am homeschooling 3 of them. Most people, homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers, react with a “What…?” when they hear this. Let me explain.
Every year, about this time, my husband and I start to have The Conversation. It starts with a passing, “We need to talk about school soon.” It gets a little more serious when registration packets begin arriving. Eventually, we lock ourselves away for a little while and make decisions about who goes where and why.
When my firstborn was in kindergarten at a private, Christian school, I started wanting to homeschool. There was nothing wrong with his school. He wasn’t having any problems. I’m sure he could have gone through school there and been fine. But I had the Internet, and it seemed like all the Good Christian Mamas homeschooled, so I wanted to give it a try, too. (In retrospect, this is probably a lousy reason to homeschool, but I was very, very young.)
wore down, convinced my husband to let me try it for first grade. It went great! Zachary finished all of the first grade curriculum by New Year, so we bought second grade and kept going. Two grades in one year! My child was a prodigy! A genius!
Or not. The years went by, Zach slowed down to a normal school pace, I added Annaliese to our classroom, and then it was time for Josiah and Samuel to start kindergarten. But I just couldn’t do it. I was pregnant with our 7th baby, and I was homeschooling 2 students, and I had a toddler and a preschooler at home. I sent the boys to public school for kindergarten. Was that failure? Or was that realizing my own limitations?
The boys came home for first grade because I felt more comfortable homeschooling them once they were reading. (Am I the only mom who would rather have a root canal than listen to an “emergent” reader spend 5 minutes sounding out a 3 letter word?) That was my first year with 4 students (plus 3 little ones). It was hard, and what saved us was our workbook style curriculum that each child could do independently.
When it was time for Zachary to start high school, my husband, Paul, convinced me it was time for him to go back to private, Christian school (a different one, as we’d moved to another city). I convinced him we should send Brianna, too, for kindergarten. That year, I had 2 in school, 3 homeschool students, and 2 little ones. The following year, Brianna came home for first grade, and Eli went to school with Zach for K.
Although homeschooling was a way of life for us, and I considered us a homeschooling family, we had to keep up with the school world, too. Which meant parent-teacher conferences, uniforms, backpacks, and more. I joked more than once, “It’s the worst of both worlds: I spend all day teaching or helping with homework, and I don’t even get to sleep in!” And yet, it worked for us. I think, primarily, because each child was placed in the best situation for them that year.
When Josiah hit 5th grade, he stopped homeschooling. Oh, I tried, but he is the Rock of Gibraltar in stubbornness. He wasn’t hostile, or disruptive, he just wasn’t doing it. So the following year, we sent him off to school with Zach. Zach graduated, and Annaliese decided she was going to go to school for high school because Zach did, so it became Annaliese and Josiah going to school.
Then we adopted. Hannah went to preschool, and did great there. When Paul and I had The Conversation about what to do for this year, he made me laugh. Knowing that Hannah, who came home from China at 3.5 years old, would not pass the entrance exam to our private school, I wanted to send her to public school. Paul hesitated, and said, “But, I don’t want people to think we’re sending Hannah to school because she’s adopted.” I giggled and said, “Um, honey, you do realize we’ve sent 5 out of 7 of our kids to school for K, right?”
So Hannah went off to school (in July!) for K. She loves it, and is thriving. Our homeschool, however was not. The last couple years, homeschooling was becoming more and more of a chore. I finally decided that it was time to make a major change away from our workbook curriculum, and I purchased a multi-age curriculum from My Father’s World. This year, I would have 3 high schoolers in private school, and Hannah at the local public school, so I would only have 3 students at home.
MFW has been a great choice for us. Changing curriculum has been the breath of fresh air that we all needed. I am enjoying my 3 students, and they are enjoying school again. We are learning together. I’m not re-teaching the same lessons I’ve taught year after year after year.
Now The Conversation is imminent once more. As we come to decisions about what next year will look like, I’m excited to continue our new way of learning as a group. I’m just not sure yet who that group will include!