I am taking classes to earn my Master's degree in Teaching and Learning. Recently, a professor commented on my decision to homeschool my children:
"Lyn, your educational leadership was essential as a homeschooing parent! I would love to know more about your decision to homeschool. What were the benefits and challenges? What guidance would you give others considering homeschooling? Thanks for sharing..."
This was my reply:
"Our decision to homeschool was made based on a few factors affecting our oldest son. He was in first grade and was reading at a fifth grade level and they had already used all the reading textbooks they could for him. He also had completed math through about third grade at this point. Because he would finish his work quickly, he became disruptive and the teacher simply did not know what else she could do with him. (I should mention here that we had homeschooled him from age four until he was 6 and entered first grade. When I was pregnant with my 4th and expecting her at the beginning of the school year, I thought it would be easier to send our oldest two sons to public school instead of homeschooling them. I was SO wrong!)
He finished out the school year and the following year we brought our sons home to be educated at the pace and academic levels that worked best for them.
The biggest benefits were both academic and personal. As each of our children started their schooling, we were able to progress them in the academic areas in which they excelled and work more remedially in areas that needed improvement. Additionally, we were able to take family vacations during the school year when other parents would keep their children in school and enjoyed less crowded trips to the zoo, museum and our fav out-of-state destination--Disney World!
Some of the challenges we faced were not with actually schooling our children, but rather with the reactions of our family who were not so sure about this homeschooling "thing"! It became a matter of proving ourselves worthy of teaching our own children and at times I was incredibly frustrated that they would challenge me in such a manner. As of now, I have graduated three students (one more has earned all her credits, but has chosen to not graduate yet so she can take classes at our supplemental school: Broomfield Options, through Aurora Public Schools!); one is serving his 5th year in the US Navy, one finished his automotive technician degree at FRCC, and one is attending FRCC to complete an Associate's degree. We participate in the supplemental school, so socialization (something OFTEN questioned of homeschooling families!) is not a concern as they attend regular classes with like-minded teachers.
I think the guidance and advice I would give to those contemplating homeschooling is to try it out over the summer. Many times, parents are worried that if they school their children for a year and they screw up, miss deadlines, don't finish work or workbooks, etc. they will mess their children up for life. This is simply not true! BUT, for those who desire a "test drive" I suggested a schooling trial over the summer. We school year-round so that we do not encounter any of the issues the public school students face when returning to school after a 3-month hiatus! Most of the first quarter is spent teaching students the information that they learned in the fourth quarter of the previous year anyway. We simply eliminate that long break, opting instead for 2-3 week breaks throughout the school year. I also suggest praying about the responsibility of schooling your own children. It's a big task and if your heart isn't in it, it will be a struggle, slow-going and challenging at best."
While challenges are nothing new to homeschoolers, we can also rely on those the Lord has put in our path to mentor and encourage us. We can be the mentor to a new homeschooling family or to be the voice of encouragement to a mom who is struggling to keep her house clean, her kids on task for school, the dishes washed, the laundry neatly folded and put away, and dinner ready every night. WE might have the one word that mom needed to hear today! WE might be that smile that says, "It's going to be okay!" WE may be the difference in a mom continuing to homeschool her children!!
Don't give up! Even TEACHERS are aware of the value of home education!!!