My kids are not quite old enough for this to be a completed list item. But it is on my list, and I was asked to write about it, so here we are. I will preface this by saying this is only my family’s educational journey. This is what has worked for us. Whether your kids go to private school, public school, unschool, homeschool, or anywhere in between you are an amazing parent who puts the needs of your family at the forefront. Rock on.
I have thought back many times to why I initially chose to homeschool and I’m still not really sure what it was. People seemed sure I was going to. They were always recommending programs and curriculums, most of which I brushed off. The city we had just moved into had a HUGE homeschooling community, but I didn’t know that yet. I was never against it. I thought it was awesome when I met people who were doing it, but I never considered it for our family.
Until one day I did.
I started joining local homeschool Facebook groups just to see what it was all about. The more I researched, the more excited I became about making this a possibility for our family. I think I mentioned it to TB and he said something along the lines of, “yea that sounds cool.”
At this point my son was 4. In our state they need to be enrolled in school or registered homeschoolers by the time they are 5. I decided to give us a test year to see how things went. I signed up under a homeschool association. Again, this is not required until they are 5. The association will report to the state that you are qualified to teach, have taught the required 180 days, and have taught the required subjects. You report to the association and write a 90 day report and a 180 report about your child’s progress. The reason I joined during the test year is that they also send you a certificate that you can show around town to get homeschool discounts for things like museums and educational stores.
So, the association kept me lawful with the state, but now I needed to find what to teach. I knew the gist of what is covered in kindergarten, but I was afraid to leave anything out. In my head my son may still end up in school, so I want him to have all the information to succeed in any setting. I looked up the state standards for kindergarten and first grade, then printed them out and hung them on the wall. I also purchased a book called ‘What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know’ which is full of activities and lessons to guide you. With that book and the standards, I started plotting out fun ways to learn these things.
At this point my driving force for homeschooling was 1. I wanted us all to have freedom. Neither my husband nor I are tethered to a building 8 hours a day. I didnt think it was right for us to put our small children in that position. Also, a little selfishly, I wanted to be able to take off-season vacations without asking permission. And 2. My boys are 200% full of energy all the time. If they were sat down to fill out worksheets they would get notes sent home to me everyday. I just knew it. I wanted active ways to learn the same information.
That first year we had SO MUCH FUN! I highlighted the standards on the wall every time he showed understanding of the material. It wasn’t long before he was even checking off the 1st grade standards. We were active, we were exploring, and we were learning. My mind was made up.
We also learned a lot about each other that year. We both craved a little more structure. He actually LIKED the worsheets- although not too many. I loved the exploring and learning out in the world, but I wanted a homebase school room to come back to. Over the past 4 years we have used trial and error to really find our groove. Some things that worked well last year may need to be altered for this year. We did a couple years of homeschool co-ops where they met friends they see regularly. We have gone to classes at the museum, Spanish classes, art classes, sports, and more. We have learned to slow it down when we need to and drop some of those activities for more family and academic time. I think most importantly I have learned that every kid learns differently. My second child did not follow the exact same course as my first and he shouldn’t have to. They are both kind, intelligent, adventurous boys and I wouldnt have it any other way.
My reasons for homeschooling have changed over the years. My methods have too. But, this time we are spending together learning and growing as a family is priceless and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Edit: If you go to the Adventure Enhancers tab on this page I will share some of my favorite resources.