We mamas wear many hats. Two years ago, I added a new one to my collection: Homeschooler! You know that article of clothing you see on the hanger in the store and think, “Um, no. I could NEVER pull that off!” But then you try it on and actually fall in love with it? Yeah, that’s how it happened with my homeschool hat.
I heard a lot of negative things about the schools here, but I knew of some good schools, too. I had my 4-year-old tested at one, and he scored “above excellent” in every area except writing, which disqualified him from enrollment. Watching my friends stress over lotteries and limited space made me want to avoid the charter schools. Private schools were out of our budget. I have to pay thousands of dollars for my child to be in a good school? Yikes! I was worried. What now?
That’s when a friend suggested homeschooling.
At the time, it seemed overwhelming, but my son was only starting Pre-K4. How hard could it be? If I bombed, I could still put him in Kindergarten next year. So, I bought a curriculum (there are MANY to choose from) and school supplies, and read the book So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, which gives examples of many different ways to homeschool. You would be surprised! There is no one “right” way to do it – and that flexibility has become a well-loved commodity at my house! And now that we are going into our 3rd year, I can’t imagine doing school any other way.
I quickly discovered that people have a lot of misconceptions about homeschooling.
Wherever we go during the week, I get questions. “Why aren’t they in school?” When I answer that we homeschool, I get all kinds of reactions. But whether they seem interested or annoyed, I typically get the comment, “Oh, I could never do that! You have more patience than I do!” But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t. I don’t consider myself an exceptionally patient person. I guess homeschoolers just get more opportunities to practice!
Then there is the question about socialization. I think people imagine us locked in the house all day reading books and sheltering ourselves from human interaction. Not true! We do read, play and learn, but we also do a LOT outside of our actual houses. We are involved in a large group called CHEF (Christian Home Education Fellowship). We have structured P.E. classes weekly. We go on field trips and have holiday parties. There are sports teams, journalism clubs, and other activities available for older students. Another co-op offers mom-led classes (I am teaching music). Homeschoolers value family and friends. We are very social people…and we have plenty of time to socialize since we aren’t in class all day.
Let me give you a glimpse into a week of kindergarten at my homeschool.
We read The Story of Ping. It’s about a duck, so our science that week was on oil and water and bird characteristics. Ping is set in China, so we studied the country and culture, colored the flag, made paper lanterns, learned the meaning of Chinese symbols, and had a traditional Chinese dinner featuring music from China. We played math games using ducks. We practiced writing on-topic words, read lots of books, and visited the ducks at Lafreniere Park with friends. Is every day rosy? Nope. But whose are?
I love that homeschooling allows me to personalize education to the pace, style and levels that work best for each child. My son reads on a 3rd grade level, does math at a 1st-2nd grade level, and his writing is average for being a rising 1st grader. Homeschooling allows me to accommodate those differences, challenging him in areas where he excels and moving slower in the harder subjects. And when there are subjects later down the road that I don’t feel comfortable teaching, there are plenty of resources available.
You don’t have to be an expert to homeschool.
Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to learn with my children. I’m there when they discover something new. I’m there when they solve a problem, or give their first presentations in front of others. That is special to me. Since our schedule is flexible, we visit zoos and parks when there are no crowds! That’s a cool perk (that and no carpool lines). Our schedule flows smoothly around doctor’s visits, which works great for us since I have a daughter with Crohn’s Disease, and medical care is a huge part of our lives.
New Orleans is a wonderful place to homeschool with a huge support system and incredible resources. If you are interested, don’t be afraid to try. That hat might fit you better than you expect!
About Becca Roberts
Becca is a stay at home mom with an English degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She moved to the New Orleans area in 2010 and has fallen in love with the food, music, culture, and people. She has worked with moms in the area for several years through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) of New Orleans and is currently committed to homeschooling her two children. Becca is also a Lead Consultant with Jamberry Nails to help offset the costs of homeschooling as well as the medical bills for her daughter, Brenna, and she hopes to use this business as an opportunity to raise awareness for Crohn’s Disease.