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Homeschooling: Why am I doing this?

My children have been homeschooled since day one of their education. My son is 11 and in 6th grade, my daughter is 7 and in 2nd grade. We sit at the dining table, crack open books and rev up the pencils. Reading happens, discussions get going, we get our hands dirty with experiments, and we often leave the house to explore our world.

Sounds idyllic, right? Some days, yes it is but, on other days everything is a challenge and a struggle to get one or the other or both of them focused on anything. I frequently ask why am I doing this?

The answer is the same answer I give to many of the “why’s” in my life: because I believe, deep down, when I set aside the frustrating situation in front of me, that I am making the best decision for my children and my family. This is not an easy decision nor is it easy to manage but the rewards and the joys and the experiences shared with my children are priceless.

When Jason was about age 2, I committed to educating him at home. My son is energetic, out-spoken, personable, persistent, confident, passionate, brilliant. In other words, he’s opinionated, stubborn, and easily distracted. At age 3, he would practice counting while bouncing on the couch.

If he were in public school, I had this picture in my head that he would struggle with sitting at a desk all day and I pictured that he would have a huge challenge learning within the structures prescribed within the classroom.

So great, I’ve decided to homeschool, now what? How would I choose a curriculum? How would I afford the curriculum? How would I manage teaching every subject? Can I stand to go through fractions again? And the real kicker: is this the right decision?

A friend recommended the Options program where the kids go to school one day a week and, most appealing, families check out curriculum library-style. It sounded perfect: free books (we pay for the write-in workbooks and an activity fee), a little help from others with the educating with a bit of the public school experience and school one a day week means a break for me!

I also pictured homechooling as allowing us to switch gears and a change-up the day as needed to fit where my kids and I was at. If my son wanted to read his book for two hours I didn’t want to interrupt that to make him change subjects. If my daughter wanted to spend a full day painting, I wanted give her the opportunity immerse herself in creativity. The next day takes them into other subjects.

Allowing both my kids to let a project or a subject become the focus for an entire day has given them a depth of knowledge and an awareness of their abilities that may not have otherwise been cultivated in a different setting. My daughter may want to spend all of the next day working on math while my son delves into every subject.

We’ve had to change our approach countless times over the years. The most significant changes have been in who schools the children due to job opportunities for me and my husband. For the first three years, I was the teacher then my husband was laid off and he was the teacher for three years. This year our lives have changed once more and I’m the teacher again.

We have two major family goals we want to accomplish this year that will be incorporated in school. First, we have adopted two border collie puppies and are learning how to train them in the art of herding and agility. Second, we are going to build a chicken coop and adopt three chickens. See my post here about how fell in love with chickens. http://www.milehighmamas.com/2011/08/03/get-your-garden-clucking-with-an-urban-homestead-2/ How fun will it be having the dogs round up the chickens and lead them to their shack?

Can we ever truly know if we’ve made the right decision? I have several friends who have homeschooled then moved their children to public school. Another friend who would love to homeschool but there is no education consensus with her ex-husband so she is unable to pursue it. Two other friends homeschool some of their children and one child attending public school. Yet another friend just switched to homeschooling at grade six.

The commonality is within these families is that they know there are many education options available, and they continue to question whether they have made the right decisions. On the other hand I know many families for whom there was never a question of education, their children attend public school and there was no second guessing. Collectively, all of these families are choosing what is best for them.

My homeschooling and parental paths look more like a rocky, wavy, and meandering line than a perfectly straight line. My great epiphany is that I’ve signed on for uncertainty with the hope that I find joy in trying to do my best.

Join me this school year as I explore homeschooling in many of it’s manifestations and share what homeschooling is like in my family, and other families, along with progress reports of puppy training and chicken coop building.

So tell me, Mile High Mamas, what type of schooling have you chosen for your kids and do you ever wonder what it would be like if you did something different?

Heather Ruch
Author: Heather Ruch

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7 Comments

  1. Hello Mile High Mamas…
    I home schooled my daughter when she was going into Kindergarden. It was wonderful! She loves learning and adapted very well. I used the classical method of teaching and belonged to a community of home schoolers called Classical Conversations. In fact, I became a tutor for other families who had 4 and 5 year olds. What an experience!
    After the first semester of homeschooling, I realized that normal duties and household chores became overwhelming and weighty. What I realized was that I clearly was a type AA personality and needed more guidance and structure. The flexibility of homeschooling started to stress me out more than add value to our family. Although I completely support and believe in the concept of homeschooling your children, it was a great opportunity to embrace the core of who I was as a mom and honor that! If you do decide to homeschool, seek support in a way that you need. If homeschooling is not for your family, you still can support your children’s learning in a way that helps them to flourish and grown into amazing adults and leaders who desire to change the world! You Mile High Mamas are awesome and amazing! Your family couldn’t function without your care, love and sacrifice!

    I am a Mile High Mama at the core…I was born in Denver to a Bronco…so I bleed blue and orange! Happy Mommy-ing from a Mommy In Training in Washington DC.

    • Great information, Christy! I completely agree that as a homeschooling mom, support is very key to my success. In fact, I think as mom’s a support group is key to success in every capacity. Having people to share the challenges and the joys is a great gift.

      Homeschooling certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s wonderful to hear that you have been able to explore different styles of education with your daughter and fantastic that you found what works for you and your family.

      Thanks for keeping in touch with us Mile High Mamas!

  2. I totally admire moms who take this on and do it well.

    I think it would take extremely extenuating circumstances for me to do it i.e. move to a new area with horrible schools, extreme bully problems. Plus, I honestly don’t think I’d have the patience. Homework is enough of a battle but being in charge of my kids’ education?! Yikes. They’re better off in school but I look forward to following your journey. 🙂

    • Being a mom takes extreme patience! And homeschooling requires even more! I’ve seen homeschooling work for families in those extenuating circumstances and it can provide a strong base in times of stress and change.

  3. I am happy to see this series on Mile High Mamas. My daughter is in 1st grade and this is our 2nd year of homeschooling. We also attend the Options program and it has been such a great thing for us. (Last year she attended a similar program through a charter school which was also a good experience.)

    *Most* days, I love homeschooling. The flexibility it offers, both in scheduling and curriculum choices, is a huge plus. I also appreciate the extra time I get to spend with my daughter and watching her learn is so gratifying.

    • The time with my children is priceless! I adore them both and am thrilled to spend each day with them…most days…a good portion of the week…There’s always those off days but we make it through and still love each other at the end of the day! The Options program is fantastic and has provided our family with amazing support and encouragement. I hope you enjoy the stories of our school year!

  4. Wow you read my mind. I have a 6 yr old boy in 1st grade and I’m starting to question public school for him. He’s energetic and all that but he is also very visual, spacial, non-sequential left-brained etc…oriented which is not valued in public schools. Any homeschooling resources you can provide would be great. Thanks!

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