Homeschooling: Is it for you?

IMG_1054Books, books, and more books. It was pretty much the theme of my baby shower. My wonderful family and friends gave me tons of books that I would someday read to Nathaniel. To my delight, they gave these instead of greeting cards. This is not surprising, given who I am. I’m a reader and a teacher. I’ve been teaching since I was about four years old. Seriously. My dolls and stuffed animals were all lined up, and whether they liked it or not, they were going to learn about whatever I had just learned in school, at Sunday school, or from the session of “school” I had just played with my big sister.

Therefore, it is not surprising that I have already begun having the conversations with my husband about how, when, where, etc. Nathaniel will be educated. We have discussed public school, private school and even homeschooling as options. The homeschooling option tends to bring up the most emotion and debate. Assuming this is a topic many parents are pondering at the moment, I wanted to share our contemplation of homeschooling, other local moms’ decisions to do homeschooling, the facts about homeschooling, along with the pros and cons of homeschooling.

My Personal Contemplation on Homeschooling

First, let me say that we live in a public school district in St. Tammany Parish that I would be very content in sending Nathaniel to school. I taught here and know many of the wonderful teachers who live and work here. To be honest, that is one of the reasons we chose to buy a home here in Mandeville. On the other hand, it is very difficult to just throw all the benefits I see to homeschooling aside. I have LOVED being home with Nathaniel and teaching him virtually everything he knows right now. I was there to teach and witness him track an object, smile for the first time, roll over, participate in a shared reading, sit and play in his playpen independently, sit up on his own, turn the pages of a book on cue, hold a book upright, make his first vocalizations, say “mama” and “dada,” crawl, and pull up on his own. I was present when all these things happened. I clapped, yelled “YAY!,” celebrated with him, and then took pictures and videos to share with the world. This is a gift. This is the part of being a mother I cherish the most.

Nathaniel crawling

I can’t help feeling like I want to be there when he reads his first word or learns what an adjective is. I want to be there when he figures out division, and I want to jump up and down and celebrate the first time he correctly computes a four digit subtraction problem with borrowing. To be perfectly honest, part of me asks myself, “how can I send him to be taught by someone else what I am capable of teaching him myself?” I also think about the young, pre-school and elementary ages of children, and I think he might need a hug or need to hear, ‘I love you,’ from his mother during the day. Finally, I REALLY think about how in public schools no one will be talking about God or Jesus. The most important part of his life would be completely void of his day for eight hours a day, five days a week.

On the other hand, my husband helps me to see schooling from a different perspective. At a public school, he could participate in music, art, P.E., band, choir, etc. and for a much lower cost than if we had to hire a teacher/coach and pay for everything else that goes along with extracurriculars. In addition, he would socialize with many children and have the opportunity to participate in special activities and events, such as kindergarten graduation, science fairs and dances. Also, my husband is not completely sure we can teach the advanced math and sciences he’ll need to learn in his high school years. Another valid point is that if I’m homeschooling, I am not working, and, therefore, unable to supplement our household income.

There’s also the Christian/Catholic private school option, too. Which, if we chose this route, would ensure the building of Nathaniel’s spirituality AND the draining of our pocket books! I would, then, definitely have to work. I would probably be in a classroom teaching other children while someone else teaches Nathaniel. (I got sad just writing that last sentence!)

What Local Moms Had to Say

Having the discussions about Nathaniel’s education led me to look further into homeschooling. What did I do first? I asked other local moms that I knew were homeschooling their children. This is what they had to say:

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Samantha, a local mom of three children from Mandeville, said, “Homeschooling to me and my family means freedom. Freedom to share and teach our beliefs, morals and values. Freedom to teach what we want when we feel it is appropriate. Freedom to teach in a way that meets my children’s needs individually. Freedom to feel safe with them under our care. Freedom to let them experience life, explore nature and develop relationships outside and in the community instead of inside four walls. Last, freedom to remain childlike away from the pressures to grow up so fast.”

Monica, also a mom of three, said, “Never, EVER, in one million years could I have imagined that I would be both mother and teacher to my children, yet, here I am! My husband and I chose to homeschool for many different reasons, but primarily out of frustration and disappointment with our oldest son’s former school situation. So, out of our commitment to provide our children with the best possible environment to thrive in, we elected to educate them at home. It works for us because we can incorporate Biblical principles and reiterate the depths of Christ’s love in every aspect of their studies, tell them I love them and hug them when they fail, succeed, or just look especially huggable and move at a pace that is right for their individual needs. The whole child gets nurtured, and occasionally I get to do all of this and more, having never changed out of my pajamas.”

The Facts About Homeschooling

I have to admit, hearing this feedback from my fellow moms got me inspired. They added to and didn’t detract at all from the reasons I have been feeling homeschooling might be the best option for Nathaniel. With that being said, after I brought up the subject again to my husband and the new, more inspiring reasons it might be a good idea, he wanted facts. Of course! So, I got on the computer, did some research.

I found that there are between 2.5 and 4 million homeschoolers nationwide. It had seemed to me that the number was increasing, but I was actually surprised to see the number that high. Reading further, I discovered that the first batch of homeschooled children in the United States is now in the workforce. This group of 7,000 was studied and compared to their traditionally educated counterparts. The findings showed that children who are homeschooled do grow up and know how to socialize, know what’s going on in their communities and the political world, and not only get into some of the most prestigious colleges in the country, but also graduate from them. In addition, there was information about resources, such as state laws, online resources/communities, co-ops, and support groups to assist parents who are homeschooling their children.

Pros and Cons

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In summary, I think through my own feelings, the opinions of local moms who homeschool, and reading the facts about homeschooling, there are strong, definite pros to homeschooling. Parents can be there to teach and witness accomplishments. Children can learn about their spirituality throughout the day, as well as get words of encouragement and physical affection as needed. In addition, children can be taught according to their specific and unique needs and learning styles in their safe home environments. Finally, parents have more control over when and with whom children socialize, and children can do more learning in their communities.

However, homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and there are aspects of it parents must consider (the cons) before making the decision to educate their children in this manner. First, it is a big time commitment, and it requires an amount of personal sacrifice from the parent doing the homeschooling. The parent and children are together 24/7. Next, homeschooling does put a certain amount of financial strain on a family. While it costs less than private school, it costs more than public school, and the realization that the homeschooling parent will not be able to work. Finally, one of the most talked about considerations when discussing homeschooling: socialization. With homeschooling, there is the need to pay a lot more time and attention to how, when, and where the children socialize with other children.

Our Final Decision

We still have no idea how Nathaniel will be educated. We are still weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling and whether or not it is the right thing for Nathaniel and our family. But that’s just it, I guess. Like with many, many other decisions when parenting, it’s not whether it’s right or wrong, it’s whether it’s right for YOU and YOUR FAMILY!

Are you homeschooling your children? What is your experience? Do you oppose homeschooling? Why? Do you want to homeschool, but can’t? How do you feel about homeschooling?

16 COMMENTS

  1. Amber, I simply loved this post. While we don’t have plans to homeschool (I have to admit – I am not nearly patient enough for it!), I fully relate to your feelings of wanting to be there for every milestone and accomplishment. I really enjoyed reading your thought process on this and will be eager to follow along on y’alls journey! Do you think you’ll ever enroll Nathaniel in a Mother’s Day Out or other program?

    • Thank you Ashley! As far as your question about a Mother’s Day Out program….not sure. Right now, I make sure he’s around other kids and participating in something (birthday party, play date, family get-together) about once a week. When I need some time, I feel most comfortable right now having my husband, in-laws, or other trusted family/friends be with him. I probably wouldn’t consider a program until he’s about 2.

  2. Amber-
    Thanks for the great blog. I appreciate your heart as you’ve shared your feelings on the matter and the research you’ve done. I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school and I can say that for me, the pros outweighed any cons. I am very thankful to have been influenced by my mom more than anyone else. Now that I’m a mother I see her coming out in me all the time! I know that many parents have concerns about socialization, quality of education, extra curricular activities, etc. but I strongly believe that parents who are passionate about homeschooling can find ways to overcome the challenges. I wouldn’t suggest that everyone do it- I think it’s something you have to really be passionate about for yourself. But if it’s for you, then go for it! I think you’ll be very glad you did.
    As the daughter of a missionary, I have invested a lot of time in teaching and training other people’s children. I even spent time teaching my siblings. But I was really excited about the day when I would have the opportunity to teach and disciple my own children. My little baby is not quite 5 months old but I’m very excited about her education and there’s no way I want to give the privilege of that experience over to someone else!

    • Cathy, first thank you so much for reading! Second, thank you, also, for sharing your heart and passion for homeschooling. Congratulations on the baby girl! I totally connect with the feeling of wanting to be the most influential person in your child’s life. Add to that the fact that I am an actual teacher, and I just can’t shake the sad feelings I get thinking about teaching other kids while someone else is teaching my child.

      If you’ve never read any of my other posts, I encourage you to peruse them, if you’d like and have the time (I know what life is like with a 5-month-old). The ones about social stories and visual schedules might be of great use to you as your little one gets older.

  3. Amber, a friend of mine pointed me to your blog. I just started homeschooling in January (my son was in the third grade at a private school prior to that). It’s not always easy (especially since I also have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old at home), but I do not regret our decision. It takes dedication and lots of prayer. 🙂 Many times when someone hears I am homeschooling my child, the first thing they ask is how he will be socialized. In August he will be part of a homeschooling group that meets one day a week for lessons, art projects and Science experiments. The kids get together for play-dates and they even do field trips as a group. And of course, there are also opportunities for extracurricular sports (baseball, soccer, basketball, swim team) in our community.
    Here is an article that touches on the subject of socialization: http://www.forbes.com/sites/billflax/2013/01/22/want-to-tell-the-state-to-stick-it-homeschool-your-kids/ There are also good stats and facts in there you can share with your husband. 🙂
    Best wishes in whatever you decide to do!

  4. I am right there with you, for many the reasons you listed, I am also considering homeschooling, and a local charter school. I’m also meeting with a local homeschooling mom and plan to write about it on my blog- I swear I’m not copying. 😉

  5. Amber,

    Great article and I feel blessed to have been a part of it. I would like to address some of the things you mentioned as cons though for the benefit of all.

    Though homeschooling can be expensive it can also be very inexpensive. I know many parents who homeschool on a shoestring budget and do just as good of a job as the families who teach with a $1000 curriculum. The key is to do your research and get plugged in with local groups and other homeschoolers to see what the options are. Also, there are many ways to supplement a single income. Many homeschoolers, myself included, have small side jobs or start their own businesses that fill in the financial gaps.

    Here in St. Tammany Parish we have many local Homeschool Support groups. My family is currently a member of NHEA (Northshore Home Educators Association, http://www.NHEA.org.)This group currently offers so many opportunities for extracurricular activites, field trips, dances, sports and elementary and higher ed classes that I could not possibly list them all here. Any child who is homeschooled would not be missing out on anything that is offered at a public/private school. In fact they may actually get more and many of these activities are offered free or for a small cost. I know that these types of groups are available in other areas also.

    Many people get intimidated at the thought of teaching the advanced subjects we all learned in high school, myself included. Again, though the beauty is that many homeschoolers will work together in these areas. There are local homeschool co-ops where one may teach the kids Spanish and in return another teaches Chemistry. Trust me you don’t have to know it all to teach it all. The resources and support are endless.

    Last, and probably the most misunderstood topic of homeschooling is socialization. The definition of socialization is a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. Homeschoolers are no more home than a stay at home mom is. We are out and about the community all the time for activities, we are not stuck in a bubble. Homeschooled children in my own opinion, are sometimes better socialized than their typically school peers. Because our children are constantly associating with people of all ages they are able to learn appropriate behaviors for many settings and hold conversations with people of all walks of life. In a typical school setting the students are with their same age peers all the time so they learn behaviors from them mostly them. Again, in my own opinion, I want my child socialized be me, my family and the community not just children their age.

    I do believe I will homeschool my children all the through high school but we really do take it one year at a time. I pray for God’s wil, guidance, strength and patience everyday. It is not easy all the time but I love it. They are my children given to me by God for a short time on this Earth. I want to be the one that cheers them on like Amber said in her article.

    God Bless!

    • Samantha, thank you for contributing to the blog, as well as sharing all of this information. You’ve been more than helpful! I can’t wait to read all this info. you guys are sharing. Good thing we’ve got a little while to make the decision!

  6. Paging around your blog was very interesting because I asked myself the same question a few years ago. I chose to send my children to middle school online, similar concept but I am not their teacher (I don’t know if I have it in me to teach!) My littlest one is approaching school age and I find myself back to figuring out if home school is a good fit.

    • Thank you for reading my post, Margo. I agree, not everyone is a teacher (I happen to be), BUT not everyone who might have the desire to home school their child/children is. It is really nice that these online options are available to give parents the ability to keep their children home if they would like. I also think evaluating what’s right for each child is wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Every time someone posts, and I see that another mother has asked the same questions and has had to do the same, hard decision making, it feels good to know I’m not alone in not necessarily wanting to go the traditional route in educating my child.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience of homeschool. I am Ashely Wright, mother of two children and I have been homeschooling both my children from past 8 years. It’s been an amazing experience so far and I would also tell you that I have been homeschooled.
    There are fewer cons than pros which I have noticed in my experience, when your children are doing well then I don’t think that you should look after cons. There are just Pro’s.

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