Twelve years ago, I left my career as a classroom teacher to become a fulltime stay at home mom to my oldest two children who were one and three at the time. The plan was simple. I would stay home with them for a few years and return to the classroom when my youngest was starting kindergarten.
After about six months at home, I began to question the plan. There was another baby on the way, and I found myself enjoying the time with my children. The first time I remember really considering homeschooling was one day at lunch. My children and I were sitting at the table eating lunch together and giggling over some silly three-year-old antics. Suddenly, I couldn’t picture those sweet babies sitting in a large lunchroom with the lights off as a signal for everyone to be quiet while they ate. Or any of the other less than stellar things associated with lunchtime in a school. That day I spent naptime researching homeschooling.
About a year and a half later, we enrolled our oldest two in a small preschool because that’s what our friends were doing. It felt like the order we were expected to follow. Our daughter, who was then three, had a miserable time at preschool. We pulled her out after only 2 months and left our five-year-old son enrolled for the remainder of the year.
At the end of the school year, his preschool teacher informed me she had moved our son to the kindergarten classroom part time without informing me. I felt betrayed. Part of the reason we had chosen this preschool was because we wanted to be involved in our children’s education. I was a member of the PTA, I was there for drop off and pick up every day, I volunteered regularly and still this decision was made without me.
We decided it was time to try the public school down the street for kindergarten. After all, our son’s friends would be attending that school and I was very upset with the school he had been attending. When we walked into kindergarten screening, they immediately took my son into the gym and asked me to wait in the hall and complete paperwork. My very shy son struggled through the entire screening process. When I sat down with the screener at the end, I was told my son was behind in almost every area and I would need to do a great deal of work with him over the summer if I wanted him to be ready for kindergarten. It was the exact opposite of what I had recently been told by his preschool teacher. On the way home from kindergarten screening, I decided we were going to homeschool.
Our first couple of years of homeschooling were rough. We added another baby, made two cross-country moves, and I was still trying to create a school at home environment. Turns out I had a lot to learn about homeschooling and parenting!
This year, my kids are now 15, 13, 11, and 8. Our family is thriving thanks to the flexibility of homeschooling and the opportunity it provides for all of us to pursue our own interests (and several interests as a family as well). Most of our days look nothing like I had pictured when I first began thinking about homeschooling but we still manage to have lunch filled with happy conversation almost daily.