Motherhood comes with a host of choices to make about what is best for you, your family, and your child. We at Alamo City Moms Blog have a variety of moms who want to embrace these choices instead of feeling guilty or judged for them! We are continuing our series, Perspectives in Parenting, with a look at education. Five of our contributors will share their experiences of choosing schools for their children. Don’t miss our other perspectives on public school, private school, charter school, and special education.
This fall we begin our 15th year of homeschooling. I used my fingers and toes to figure that out. We’ve done it one year at a time. Is there a gold pencil or something I should be getting? Maybe a nice paperweight? I’d settle for a pedicure.
We began homeschooling in 2001 for a few simple reasons:
1. Better schedule. Our schedule.
Homeschooling has allowed us more family time with everyone, especially Dad. Hubby’s long and inconsistent work schedule meant that his days off consisted of weekdays and one weekend a month. We missed him. We took days off during the week, threw in some schoolwork on the weekends, and called it even.
Homeschooling is more affordable than private school. The one my oldest daughter, Sis, attended built a new facility and doubled its tuition—when my other daughter, Felicia, would soon be there, too. I’d need to work outside the home using before- and after-school care. With Dad’s work hours, it seemed like we would spend a lot of time running on the hamster wheel, which didn’t appeal to us.
3. More time.
More time for everyone. More time together. More time to be a kid. Sis is a sensitive child, and school and extracurricular activities took their toll on her. Our time together was often spent rushing, rushing, rushing. She was stressed, frazzled, and only 10 years old. Our little time together was fraught with frustration misaligned at one another. I wanted the world to slow down. I wanted to give her activities, academics, and our relationship without the turmoil.
4. The ability to meet individual learning needs.
When Felicia was seven, I realized she didn’t learn like the majority. She was—and is—indisputably intelligent, but pencil, paper, sitting still, and regurgitating were not her thing. Homeschooling let me tailor teaching to her learning styles and abilities.
5. Homeschooling is a very viable option for us.
With homeschoolers in both of our extended families, it wasn’t a foreign concept. We had support.
6. Freedom to travel.
Our families live out of state. Hubs’ time off was erratic. Homeschooling gave us flexibility to travel independently of a school schedule. It was the school schedule.
Those were our reasons in 2001 for homeschooling. They’re still viable in 2015.
I have a master’s degree in education, and am a teacher by training and heart. I’ve taught adjudicated young men, medical students, pregnant women, expectant fathers, and soon-to-be disgruntled siblings. I’ve taught sexuality, childbirth, breastfeeding, CPR, middle school science, and the list goes on. I’ve taught a room of Catholic sisters the correct way to put a condom on a banana.* I eat, sleep, breathe, and teach. So for us, homeschooling makes sense.
*This was during the beginning of the AIDS efforts. These Catholic sisters worked with the Merchant Marines. They wanted to be able to educate the men when they were stateside, to protect their health. They are some of the best women I’ve ever met.
So, now that I’ve explained why we chose to homeschool, let me address the question at the top of everyone’s list, on the tips of their tongues—you know, The Question: What about socialization?
A LOT of people ask about socialization. When I was a young zealot, I’d snarkily respond, “If I want public school socialization, I’ll drop the kids off at the mall for the weekend.” I’ve mellowed since then. Still, it’s not an issue. Maybe I can better explain why we didn’t homeschool:
1. We didn’t homeschool for religious reasons.
We prefer a balanced approach to history, and homeschooling allows us to not have to worry about things such as news stories detailing the inaccuracies within textbooks in our state.
2. We didn’t homeschool to “protect” our kids from the real world.
Homeschooling let us be there to help our kids filter the real world when they face real-world obstacles. I believe the time we’ve spent together has built a relationship that our kids can use to better navigate the “real world”—whatever that is. Parents of other-schooled kids do the same.
3. We didn’t homeschool to isolate our children.
Are you kidding me? I’m gonna share these guys. Trust me, they have/have had fabulous social lives. I should be so lucky. They’re involved and follow their interests. Just like other kids, mine have phones, MySpace, Facebook, laptops, and video games when we feel it’s appropriate. We frequently made their MySpace pages “OurSpace” and monitored our kids’ activities like most parents. If anything, our children may have been exposed to certain subjects before other kids. (Hello, Mom was a sexuality/HIV/AIDS educator and counselor!) For better or worse, I have minimal discussion inhibitions.
Many things have added to my kids’ socialization. They grew up around people of all ages. They were involved in 4-H, horseback riding, speech class and competition, dance class, high school dances, animal rescue and fostering, church activities, swim team, and the list goes on. With more than 300,000 kids homeschooling in Texas, there’s a lot going on out there.
While writing this post and texting with my older girls about homeschooling, Sis sent me this: “…and I still love how utterly shocked people are when they find out we were homeschooled. It’s like the ultimate party trick.”
I’m choosing to take that text in a good way and ignore the “party” part. We encourage independence. We want our kids to find their voice, speak up, and stand up for themselves in this crazy world. When Sis was 14, she traveled to Europe with a couple of 15- and 16-year-old friends. Felicia traveled away from home as well. If the Batman wants to travel in the near future, we’ll make the best decisions for him.
For us, homeschooling is more of a lifestyle than an educational choice. It’s shaped our lives, decisions, and philosophies. I’ve probably learned just as much—if not more than—my children. I’ve learned so much about myself along the way as well. In future posts, I’ll share more about homeschooling and our journey. Maybe you’ll find something useful, regardless of where your children learn. I’d love to make the road a little easier for those who may follow, just as others have done for me.