We haven’t always been a home schooling family. As a matter of fact my children have spent more time in the public school system than they have at home. Luckily for us though, Sidney and Tyler were able to go to a Magnet School up until Sidney’s 6th grade year and Tyler’s 9th. Unfortunately by then they were going to have to transfer to a traditional public school, and we were terrified. Their 6th and 9th grade year rolled around and they were attending the local middle and high school, and Tyler loved it! He loved his classes because even the honors classes were easier to him than the classes he was used to at the Magnet School. The work load was much lighter. Sidney’s experience in middle school however was nothing like Tyler’s.
To protect Sidney’s feelings and privacy, I am not going to tell you what happened to her during her 6th grade year at the middle school. But I can tell you that it was horrible, and something that no family should ever have to endure. Because of what happened to her, our family has been forever changed. The adults who were supposed to protect her at school failed her miserably, and it has taken her quite some time to begin trusting adults and authority figures again. This is ultimately the reason we began home schooling.
It started out that I was only home schooling Sidney the second half of her 6th grade year. Tyler continued to go to the public high school and finished all of his 9th grade year, but decided half way through his 10th grade year that he also wanted to come home to school. I have to admit I had a small panic attack when he made that announcement to me because he has always been gifted and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. But obviously I couldn’t say no, right? At the time I also had Peyton who was only four years old. So when the beginning of this school year rolled around and she was ready for Kindergarten, guess what?! You guessed it! I became a home school mother of three children ranging from the ages of 5 to 16… all at the same time that I was trying to run a photography business!
HOLY COW WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
We are now finishing up the end of Peyton’s Kindergarten year, Sidney’s eighth grade year, and Tyler’s eleventh grade year! It has been the most challenging year so far, but also the most rewarding. And it made me think about what I truly wanted to do for their schooling next year. I have never been sure if I would actually home school them forever, or just until Sidney was old enough to go to the high school (because I was NOT going to let her go back to that middle school)! And after carefully debating every detail inside my head, I came to the conclusion that I am now a home school mom forever. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, I intend to continue home schooling until Peyton is finished with school. So you want to know why I came to this decision?
TEN REASONS WHY I HOME SCHOOL MY CHILDREN
1. My children are actually learning: I know my children better than anyone, and I know their learning styles. I no longer have to worry about all of the busy work that they were having to do in public school. Before they would do their work just to get it completed by a deadline. Now they have less busy work to do, and more hands on activities that allow them to actually learn the material. If I do not feel that they have mastered the material well enough, we can always repeat the same chapter before moving on to the next instead of moving forward like they would have in public school. We have the freedom to actually LEARN and not just stay busy with work that is not being retained.
2. I love watching it click: There is something magical about the look in their eyes when the lesson clicks. Their eyes light up and they are proud. I never once saw this happen when they were in public school.
3. I am learning too: I can’t believe how much I have forgotten since I was their age. As I teach my children I am also relearning things that I remember learning myself as teenager. It is fascinating.
4. No more homework: We probably spend more time actually LEARNING at home than they ever did in a classroom full of 20 other students. I am an education major myself and I know first hand that a teacher actually only has about 15 or 20 minutes of actual instruction time in the classroom. The rest of the time is spent on house keeping activities such as roll call, checking homework, and telling students to sit down and be quiet. This means that the majority of their school work was always expected to be finished at home for homework. I can’t tell you how dreadful those after school hours were for me. After spending all day at school, the last thing children want to do is go home and do tons of homework. Now we are able to sit down, complete our lessons by 3:00 in the afternoon, and spend the rest of the day enjoying our family time doing fun family things rather than more work!
5. I am a better mother: Spending all day with my children has taught me to be a better mother. I hated the struggles we faced every afternoon when the kids would come home from school. By then we were all extremely tired and I usually ended up yelling at them for one reason or another. I can honestly say that the yelling has ALMOST completely stopped. It is not easy trying to get a child to do their school work after you have made them miserable by yelling at them. I have had to learn ways to keep them upbeat, happy, and eager to complete their assignments.
6. We get to work on real life issues: My children are home with me all day long so they get to see real life happening. Cleaning house, paying bills, planning meals, grocery shopping, and budgeting are all important real life lessons that they missed out on while they were in school. Now I can include balancing the checkbook and planning weekly and monthly budgets into their curriculum. And I don’t care what you say… that lesson alone is worth more than anything they will ever learn in a classroom.
7. We get to do school work in our pajamas: Don’t laugh! You know you would work in your pajamas all day long if you could. We do, and we love it. We get to sleep later each morning because we are not rushed to get out the door and be at school by any certain time. For the most part, our school day begins at 10:00 am. This gives us time to sleep later if we want to, wake up and shower, have breakfast, lounge around and drink coffee, and love on each other every morning before getting to the “not so fun stuff” we call school work. It makes our day go by so much better when we have time to find our happy places each morning. And since we have nowhere to be, we usually end up staying in our pajamas until it is necessary to change.
8. I actually READ to my daughter: I always wanted to be one of those parents who would read to their children every night before bed. Before we became a home school family, I hardly EVER read to my youngest daughter. By the time we were finished with homework, baths, supper, etc… I was too exhausted to read to her. But now I get to read to her all day long. We read book after book, and it is beautiful. I love to watch her eyes light up or even tear up at the story that I am reading to her.
9. I am in charge: They are my children and I know them better than anyone. I get to choose what they learn and HOW they learn. If one of them expresses interest in a particular topic such as The Civil War, we simply spend time learning a unit about the Civil War. We have the freedom to do what we want! We also have the freedom to be lazy. I am running a photography business from home as well and there are days when I have sessions scheduled or consultations to attend. On those days I simply give the kids a lazy day, or at least a partial lazy day.
10: Freedom to travel: I love love love to travel. And any chance we get to do it we take it. If they were in school, we would not be able to just pick up and go whenever and wherever we want. As a wedding photographer I sometimes have to travel to various states to shoot a wedding or an engagement session. And if it works out for them to get to go with me, we simply start a mini lesson on the particular state that we are traveling to. It is their reward for being so awesome. They get to travel with me when they can, as long as they are willing to learn something about where we are going. Real life learning is better than ANYTHING they will learn in a textbook. My father also lives out of state. So when I have a week or two with no sessions or wedding scheduled, we can just pick up and go spend a couple of weeks with him. We just take our school books with us and make time for our work while we are there.
There you have it. I understand that homeschooling is not for everyone. But we will never have it any other way if we can help it. I am so thankful to be able to do this for my children. And I am thankful for my clients and for a job that allows me the freedom to be with my children rather than in a traditional job working 9-5 while my children are being taught and raised by people who do not even know them.