We sent our kids to public school for the first five years of their education. In many ways, it was a good experience for us. Our kids learned to read and learned their math facts. They performed well on state testing. They had friends and got along well with their teachers. We were set on our educational trajectory.
And then came Covid. In March of 2020, our educational system came to a grinding halt.
- First the kids were sent home for two weeks.
- Then they went to online school for two months.
- And then schools sent home a list of rules to keep everyone safe for the upcoming school year.
Masking and distancing and quarantining and pivoting to remote became buzzwords. All of a sudden, public schooling did not seem like a very good option for our family. My husband and I started to look for other options for our three school-aged kids. Homeschooling stood out.
Could Homeschooling Work for Our Family?
Homeschooling has always been an interesting concept to me. As a former public school teacher, I have been curious to see how it might work out in real life.
- Could we really give our children a solid education at home?
- Would I get too bogged down in housework or childcare or making meals to help our kids learn well?
- Was homeschooling a valid option for our family?
With Covid, finally, the risks of homeschooling seemed to be less than the risks of public schooling. So I decided to try it for the first time.
Getting Started With Homeschooling
With five kids at home and three school-age children, I set out on the adventure of picking a curriculum and learning our state’s homeschooling requirements.
What seemed so intimidating at first was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
Our homeschooling friends and family were extremely helpful, showing us how to complete the affidavit to homeschool, allowing us to borrow curriculum, and showing us where to find our state’s requirements for homeschooling.
We started our homeschooling adventure in August of 2020, believing that we could have a good year, but not really knowing what day-to-day homeschooling would look like. After a full year of school at home, we are pleasantly surprised at how well homeschooling works for our family. In fact, we are going to continue homeschooling our kids for three key reasons.
1. Homeschooling Offers a Family-Friendly Lifestyle
My favorite aspect of homeschooling has, surprisingly, been the change in our lifestyle. When you send your kids to school, public or otherwise, so much of your life revolves around the school’s schedule.
- You base your kids’ bedtimes on when they have to get up for school.
- If you drive your kids to school, everyone has to pile in the car twice a day to get the kids at appointed times.
- School plays and special occasions and sports make the school experience fun, but they also tend to dominate your family’s life.
With homeschooling, school is part of your every day and can be done when it’s the most convenient for the family. If your family likes to go on a lot of trips or has activities at night, you can be flexible with your wake-up time and school day. Instead of the kids’ school schedule dominating what your family does each day, school is adapted to family life. I have found great freedom this year in the flexibility that homeschooling has offered our family.
2. Homeschooling Can Be Adapted to Each Student’s Needs
Public school has always had the immense challenge of educating large groups of students with various abilities and interests. Because a teacher must teach 20-25 students in a limited amount of time each day, the pace of the class is focused on that of the average student. Students who need more time and support often get left behind, and students who are ahead academically are bored in class.
Homeschooling provides an opportunity to tailor learning to each student’s needs. If your student needs more work on a given subject, you can give him extra time and support. If a student has mastered a concept, you can move on to the next subject or add enrichment activities. Homeschooling provides an individualized approach to learning.
3. Your Homeschool Curriculum Can Support Your Family’s Values
Another blessing of this school year has been the curriculum that we have picked for our kids. We have been schooling all year with Sonlight, a literature-based curriculum that fits our family’s love of reading. The curriculum introduces history, but in both fiction and nonfiction books instead of textbooks. It also includes daily Bible reading, memorization, and some stellar math programs.
Reading the Bible regularly as a family and exploring history and literature together is a daily blessing, and there is no doubt that what they are learning will influence our kids’ worldview for years to come. Being able to explore learning from a faith-based perspective is a luxury that is not available in most school systems today.
I listened to the news just this morning, and the reporter noted that households who are homeschooling at least one child have doubled to 11% of households with school-aged children within the last year. Many parents surveyed are not sending their kids back to school, even when the pandemic is over. Post-pandemic, education is going to be one of those things that will never be the same. It’s not all bad. Families will discover that they can successfully educate their kids at home just like I have!