You won’t find a bigger advocate for homeschool than me. I mean, I have dedicated the last six years of my life homeschooling six children. Some days were harder than others, but the satisfaction in knowing that I was able to teach my children skills they would need for the rest of their lives was the best feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that if you can’t homeschool your children you are doing them a disservice. I believe that homeschooling looks differently for every family. While homeschooling looks differently for each family, I have found myself feeling guilty over our homeschool journey.
My husband has been a teacher for ten years. In the beginning of our marriage when we had just started growing our family I too was a teacher. I taught English to middle and high school students, while he stayed in the science field. Our children started their educational journey in a private parochial school and it was amazing. The teachers were awesome, the class sizes were small, and our kids were getting a top-notch education. As our children advanced in school, our family kept growing. I was a stay at home mom at this time. My husband and I knew that we were not going to be able to afford to put our large brood of kids through private school on a teacher’s salary. We made the hardest decision ever by pulling the kids out of the private school that we loved so much.
After withdrawing the kids from their school, I went on a mission to find the best public school I could find. Our choices were limited because of where we lived and the need to be close to my husband’s school. We moved to a small house in San Diego where the school was “good for the area.” The surrounding schools were questionable. Our first year at the new public school was great. Both of our oldest kids had veteran teachers and that set me at ease. I joined the PTA and volunteered in the classroom as much as I could. I even made surprise visits just to make sure that everything was going according to plan.
The second year of public school was a nightmare. I had just had our sixth baby, our third oldest child was deemed to young to start school because she was born in November. The cutoff date was in September. The only option was to send her to a completely different school than her brother and sister. If she did well enough in transitional kindergarten, she could skip kindergarten altogether and enroll in first grade. Kindergarten, after all, was not a mandatory grade in California.
That year my oldest son (who had had wonderful teachers up until now) was a put in a classroom where there wasn’t a full time teacher. He had two part time teachers assuming the role of a full time teacher. One teacher taught Mondays and Wednesdays, the other taught Tuesdays and Thursdays while they rotated Fridays. It was a horrible arrangement. to make matters worse, one of the teachers constantly found fault in my son. Every week something new. He had never had any issues with teachers prior to this one, and boy did it rub me the wrong way!
I had had enough of my son’s teacher by this time, and the constant back and forth between two schools was starting to wear on me. I was looking for something, but didn’t quite know what it was. A friend of mine at the time, asked me if I could look into a homeschool program for her kids. I agreed to do some research and to my surprise, homeschooling didn’t seem that difficult. I dragged my entire family to a homeschool seminar and found myself loving the freedom homeschool could provide our family. We decided to go for it! We found a charter school that supported an independent study option and signed up. I was excited and ready for our new journey.
I took on the responsibility of our children’s education six year ago. It has been a great journey so far. I have been challenged as a teacher, and exhausted as a mom. I have gone from loving every second of our homeschool journey, to wanting to hide in a closet for a week. We have experienced every emotion there is when it comes to homeschooling. To top if off, I have done it all with six kids in tow. I feel like homeschooling our kids has made our family closer since we are with each other 24/7. It’s also made me long for alone time.
When we began homeschooling it was easy. Teaching kids to read, write, and count was a piece of cake. As the kids advanced, the curriculum began to become more intense and there were nights where I stayed up late just to understand a concept well enough to teach the kids. It was a job that I both loved and dreaded everyday. While I saw the educational advances my children were making, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with their educational needs much longer. I would have to outsource.
If you know me, you know that I’m not a quitter. If I make a commitment to do something, I will get it done. When we began our homeschooling journey my intention was to homeschool our children for as long as it made sense for our family. If it made sense to homeschool through high school, we would homeschool through high school. Things slowly began to change during our latest homeschooling year. As I was preparing our oldest son to complete his middle school year, I realized how unprepared I was for his high school years. I do a lot of research for our homeschool and I found that if he is to be academically on par with his peers, there are a LOT of classes that are above my understanding.
For months I went back and forth about whether I should supplement his homeschool lessons with courses at the local community college. While I know a lot about Language Arts and history, I suck at sciences and math. I was in way over my head. The idea to send him to a community college sounded like a winner, but then the reality of having our 14 year old son at a college campus without any peers his age made me a bit nervous. I was willing to compromise my comfort levels to make sure my son was receiving the education he needed. But where would the younger kids fall into this picture?
While I had been going back and forth about what to do with the kid’s options for the upcoming school year, we found ourselves in a pickle when we were suddenly forced to find new housing. My plans to send our son to the local community college were now in jeopardy. During this distressing time, my husband applied for a teaching position in one of the top-rated school districts in San Antonio. In a month’s time we were packing up and heading to a new town to celebrate my husband’s new job.
When my husband accepted a new position, a new avenue had opened for our children. We were suddenly in a position we had never been in as a family. We were moving to a school district that ranked amongst the best school districts year after year. Would I be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity? As a homeschool teacher, I know that I can’t keep up with high school curriculum. It wouldn’t be in our son’s best interest to continue to homeschool him knowing that he wouldn’t be able to compete academically with his peers. We made the decision to enroll our son in the school my husband would be teaching at. We enrolled the rest of children in the surrounding schools to continue their educational pursuits.
It’s been a tough summer of coping with these new changes. While I am excited to be on a new journey, I feel immense guilt about our decision. Our homeschooling journey had been what has made me happy, sad, overwhelmed, and comforted. I didn’t know how long our homeschool journey would last, but I am grateful to have had the last six years teaching, and learning with our kids. While I am excited for them in this new change, but I will miss spending my days with them.
I spoke to a fellow homeschooling mom about my feelings the other day. She assured me that my guilt was unfounded and that our children would do well in traditional school. She left me with these words that I will keep close to me during this time of transition, “They are your children and if something doesn’t work, switch it up.”
Homeschooling our children has been something that has worked well for our family. I am excited for what the kids and I have been able to accomplish during our homeschooling years. While I am sad to see it end, I am happy with the results. Our family is officially starting a new journey and I am excited to see where this one leads us. And as my dear friend said, if it doesn’t work, we’ll switch it up again.