Lessons From a Homeschool Veteran: My Homeschool Story
As someone who has homeschooled for over 11 years, I have a lot of stories to share. Families choose to homeschool for many different reasons, and there are many methods of which to homeschool. Today I would like to share my homeschool story with you as well as the lessons I have learned along the way as a homeschool mom!
How I got Started
To be honest, I never meant to be a homeschool mom. I looked into it when my son was little and decided it wasn’t for me. My husband has always been pro-homeschool. He and his siblings were all homeschooled. However, my son was always high energy. I did not think I had the patience or time to devote to it.
As the time grew close for him to start kindergarten, I started to rethink my decision. I knew he learned differently from a lot of kids. Also, I knew his quirks made it a little harder for people to understand him. However, I had a fledgling business to run. His sister had just started preschool. Also, my husband was getting ready to start his career as a geologist in the oil and gas industry. I did not think I could take on the challenge of running a business, running the home, caring for the children, and taking care of an exchange student, plus homeschooling all on my own. So, I put the thought out of my head and sent him to school.
An Unexpected Change
About a month or so into the school year, I got a phone call from my son’s teacher. She wanted to put him in developmental kindergarten. I had my doubts that it would be good for him and expressed those doubts. She assured me it would be a gradual 2 week process. When I said that I still wasn’t sure, she told me that she simply didn’t want him in her class.
This really bothered me. My son spoke so highly of this teacher, but she didn’t want him in her class. She didn’t give me a lot of reasons why either. I have a lot of respect for teachers, and I have a lot of friends that are teachers, so I am not for bashing teachers just so you know.
Because she would not give me much information to go by and was firm in her decision, I said fine. However, I became very distraught when my son came home that week and told me that they moved him in one day. They didn’t give him any explanation. The class in which they sent him had about 8 other students, all boys that bullied my son from the beginning. He was heartbroken.
Deciding to Pull Him From School
My decision to pull him from kindergarten was not an easy one, but one that had family support. Because my husband worked as a geologist, he was gone for long periods of time. He was gone when all of this happened. From the time my son was moved from one class to another, I noticed a change in him. He was no longer happy. Several days a week, he made excuses why he couldn’t go to school. He felt he could never please the teacher or his classmates.
At Thanksgiving dinner, I told my father-in-law and a sister-in-law about this. We all were troubled by this. Also, we all agreed that at 5-years old, no child should hate going to school as much as my son did. Parent/teacher conferences were that following week, and I decided I was going to ask a lot about what was going on in person because despite the times I called, I felt I was getting nowhere.
Pulling him out of School
However, the first day back after the Thanksgiving holiday, I found my son huddled crying and begging not to go to school. I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked him if he wanted to be homeschooled, and his face lit up! That was the day I made the decision to homeschool.
I went to the parent/teacher conference to tell the teacher my decision. To be honest, I expected pushback. Instead, she gave me everything they were doing at the time and wished me luck. It was very odd, and I got the feeling that she didn’t really want him there either. It made me sad. I don’t want people to think this is an article bashing teachers because it isn’t. Most teachers are wonderful and deserve a lot more respect than they are given. I feel bad that in our instance, I feel like traditional school failed us.
The First Lesson Of Homeschool: De-Schooling
Upon starting our homeschool journey, I pretty much flew blind. I didn’t know anything about de-schooling. I wanted to keep things as close to the same as I could for him. That didn’t go so well.
Trying to keep the same schedule and do the same things he did in regular school ended up being exhausting. Also, we both ended up frustrated. I quickly learned we needed to find our own rhythm and what worked for us. This also made me realize that homeschool lessons didn’t take quite as long. Also, I learned that we could be as creative as we wanted. By the end of his kindergarten year, he taught himself how to read, and he was very happy and content being at home. It also helped that we got involved in a local homeschool group. Having that support and those friendships really made the transition a lot easier once we got past my initial mistakes.
The Second Lesson Of Homeschool: Flexible in the Form
As we approached first grade, I decided to invest in our first whole curriculum. The world of homeschool curricula is HUGE!!! There are online programs, video programs, traditional programs, and everything in between. There are products for all different budgets, and sometimes it is overwhelming choosing the right one for you and your family.
The first curriculum I chose tended to be a bit heavy on handwriting. My son used to get overwhelmed and frustrated. The more frustrated he got, the more frustrated I got. By this point, I also had my own shop and had the back room set up for school so that he could come with me to work.
Being in a little space and trying to do lessons when your child is struggling with the curriculum is a recipe for disaster. I wanted him to do everything. Somehow I ended up in the line of thinking that if he didn’t that I was failing him. To be honest, there were times where we were so frustrated that a book or two may have gone sailing across the room. It happens. In the end, I learned a very valuable lesson: you need to be flexible in the form.
What does this flexibility look like?
By flexibility, I mean first taking a step back to assess the situation. In this case, I had to look at all the handwriting that was causing my son distress. Did we really need to do all of it? To be honest, we did not. I took some of the books out of the equation.
Also, I had to ask if this was a program that worked for my son. Because of the frustrations of both of us, I realized it was not. We ended up trying a different curriculum that DID work for us by the end of that year. That curriculum ended up working for us for a few years.
Each child learns differently, and you may not find that curriculum the first try. Also, you may find that you need to pull from various sources to create your own. There was a time where I used Abeka for a few things, Seton from another, and a few other sources to round out our homeschool. There is never a one size fits all approach.
The Decision to Homeschool the Whole Family
When we decided to homeschool my son, I still intended to send my daughter to public school when she turned 5. However, when she was little over 4, she asked me if she could start homeschooling. She loved her preschool, but wanted to do the afterschool program like her brother instead. What she wanted was to stay home with us.
We did the rest of her preschool at home. I still thought she might go to kindergarten after that, but she chose not to go. By that point, my husband had been working as a geologist for a while, so we had other reasons to homeschool at that point.
Since my husband was gone for weeks, sometimes months, at a time, homeschool gave us the opportunity to travel to see him. It also let him spend more quality time with the kids when he was home. Having that time became very important to us. While my original decision was a reluctant one, it turned out that homeschool helped our family be able to adapt to our family’s needs.
Homeschooling through Hardships and Change
Homeschooling through Grief
Those of you who have followed my blog or social media for years know that we had a hard time conceiving our third child. I went through a few miscarriages and really struggled dealing with some of the emotional baggage from it.
In that time, we switched to an online based curriculum for the kids. This helped me in that I wasn’t doing a lot of the teaching. To be honest, I don’t think I was focused enough to be able to teach. The kids enjoyed their online lessons, and it allowed me to put myself back together again.
We continued to use an online program even after having the baby to help us figure out the new rhythm as being a family of five.
Homeschooling through Health Issues and Job Loss
After deciding to move to Ohio, my husband lost his job within that first 6 weeks. The job was our main reason for moving. Having to navigate with less income obviously effected our homeschool budget. However, we made changes that worked with that budget. I went back to doing traditional lessons. I found a program that worked with our budget and one that was a straight up middle school program. It allowed me to teach both children at once, which was great when still chasing a toddler while doing it.
My intentions to send my youngest to preschool went out the window with the economic hardship we went through. Then I started having health issues that required a lot of testing and treatment.
I ended up having to be flexible again. It made put my blogging on the back burner. It made me put all hopes of opening my business again on hold as well. My husband and I worked together to do what we could to continue to homeschool the children.
Yes, I suppose I could have sent the kids back to school, but that seemed hard too as my husband ended up eventually going back to the field, and I spent many days in a doctor’s office making it hard to make traditional school work. Our family all worked together to do the best we could.
Moving Forward and Thinking of the Future
While our family went through some hardships, we continued working together and continued our homeschool journey. We changed curricula a couple times since then. Now that I am back to blogging again and starting to work towards doing social media full time, we implemented a schedule to keep us all on task.
My children are at all different levels and all doing programs that stimulate their style of learning. My son is close to 17 now and preparing for college. We talk about the future a lot an try to make sure they are all prepared.
Our schedules need tweaking from time to time, but that all goes back to being flexible. I am also working on being prepared for the future as we are expecting a little one in the fall. We have all discussed ways to make sure our family is on track and that I am not overwhelmed.
What I have Learned
The biggest thing I have learned is that homeschool really is a journey. It is not a linear one either. You need to be flexible, and you need to be prepared for disappointments. Not everything will work as you have planned it. Also, you need support. Having a good homeschool community and friends to discuss your homeschooling issues is so important.
Homeschool is not for everyone, but it is definitely what works for our family. It allowed our family to be able to have family time when my husband wasn’t able to be home. It provided adaptability for the many situations our family has gone through.
I hope you found our story helpful. If you enjoyed my homeschool story, be sure to check out some of my other homeschool content! Don’t forget to follow me on social media and subscribe to the blog at the bottom or side of the page (depending on whether you are using a desktop or mobile device)!