If you asked me at this same time last year if I would ever homeschool, I probably would have laughed at you. Really. Like with “you’re crazy” eyes and thrown my head back hysterically. Well…the school year has begun and guess what I’m doing? You got it. Homeschooling. It’s still pretty hilarious to me.
I’ve learned quite a few things in my long 29 years of life (insert laugh here). One of those things being, “Don’t say you wouldn’t ever do something!” I’ve eaten those words more than once. It also goes along with the saying, “You can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in a their shoes.” Amen.
So clearly, one of the things I would never do is homeschool. Our boys have been in a private school up until now that we LOVED! So the reasons for leaving had nothing to do with negative experiences. We decided to try homeschooling as another option…mostly because of a lesser financial strain and flexibility in schedule. After lots of research and “interviewing” my homeschooling friends, we discovered multiple reasons that homeschooling appealed to us. Those included:
- The ability to put more in savings
- Flexibility in schedule
- A closer family unit
- Choosing curriculum that would help our oldest grasp concepts better
- More hands on learning in any subject we choose
- I don’t have to pack a lunch every day (top reason right here)
And the list could go on and on.
This past January, while the boys were still in school, we made our final decision to homeschool. It was a nerve-racking one, but our thought was, hey, if it doesn’t work for us, we could just re-enroll them back in school. This wasn’t a decision we would have to stick with for the next 10 years. Knowing that, we went with it.
I sat down to coffee with one of my dear friends, Natalie, to “interview” her and her thoughts on homeschooling. She and I graduated from the same public school, but I knew she planned to homeschool her two daughters (now ages two and four). Natalie’s husband was homeschooled, along with his four other brothers, one of which has worked directly for President George W. Bush! Every one of the Dickens boys are hugely successful and love the Lord, so clearly I wanted to pick their brains ;). After lots of Q and A, my thoughts were reassured and I gained confidence in making our final decision.
Another one of my best friends, Donna, was hugely instrumental in helping me get started! She invited me to her co-op’s annual Curriculum Swap, where I got to meet and mingle with fellow homeschool moms and get my hands on all kinds of different curriculums. I soaked up every minute of what I saw and what was said. Just a week later, I was also able to go with Donna to an annual used curriculum sale and bought loads of books for less than $20, most of which I’m currently using. Having Donna talk with me candidly about the good and bad of homeschooling with her kids helped me tremendously. And the ability to pick the brains of all those other moms gave me more confidence in what I wanted to use and why. At the swap, I learned of a Homeschool Convention in March and went to it. It was there that I decided to go with Sonlight for our first year.
I’d bought Cathy Duffy’s book 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum based off a recommendation from another mom. It was INSTRUMENTAL in helping me choose a curriculum for us. It includes a questionnaire, which tells you what style of homeschooling best suites you. I learned that I am very eclectic…which is true. I like to piece together my ideas and studies. With that said, because it was our first year, Bo and I decided that buying a “boxed” curriculum would be in our best interest since everything was so new to us. Having lesson plans already done and all the supplies I needed, seemed like the way to go. So after taking the questionnaire and narrowing down the few boxed curriculum companies I wanted to look at, we chose Sonlight at the convention.
Well we’ve been doing this homeschool thing for four weeks now and I’m kind of in love with it. BUT, the first two weeks were not so great. As a matter of fact, if I could paint a picture for you of how it went, it would be this:
A black hole.
We had A LOT of life stuff happen the week before we started that threw my entire focus off and took the excitement away from me. We had a backpack stolen while on a missions trip and came home to find our master bathroom flooded with mold in the walls. The first week of homeschooling, our house looked like E.T.’s house (shown below). Yea, my stress level was high. Really high.
Thank the Lord for a wonderful, supportive husband and friends that encouraged me. Otherwise, Maureen would still be floating around in that black hole.
Once I was able to get passed those first two weeks, I had to shift my focus and remember what the positives were about us homeschooling. I had to remember that if we have a stressed out day, we can take the school day off. If we’re having a great day and the kids are super focused, we can run with it and double up on work. That was a selling point for me in January, and so easily I had forgotten it when we began a few weeks ago. Finding that balance is something that will probably take a few months, along with a good routine that works for us.
Bottom line, we are all falling in love with homeschool!
Now please hear my heart. Everything I will write about on my blog will be my MY experiences and MY views. If anything, I’m documenting this time for our family to reflect back on. Our choices are just what WE do, they are not to be written in stone or compared to any other family. Hearing about other experiences is how I was able to figure out what would work for us. I hope you can do the same from me. I’ve only just skimmed the surface in researching this whole new world of homeschool and I am so excited to find out more!