Who? Me? Homeschool?

I never considered homeschooling a reasonable option for educating my children. I’ve had a few friends chose this unconventional lifestyle and I though they were, well, a little odd.

After all, we lived close to a great school that boasted a rigorous academic program in addition to a multitude of parent volunteers. For a mum with a kid just entering the system, I felt like I had won the public school lottery with the school my kid’s were attending.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

I am not a flexible person. I am highly regimented, and a stickler for excellence, especially where it concerns my kids. When my husband’s job moved us across the country to an area with a mediocre local school, it was too much for this Type A Mum to endure. I was marooned in unfamiliar territory, with a different, impaired teaching style, a whole new gang of kids and bizarre rules I just didn’t get (“What do you mean my kid can wear thongs to school?”).

Public, Private, What Else?

The public schools in our new community were quickly ruled out as a means of education after my daughter suffered through Year 1. Her reading level plummeted, she learned some choice bad words, and most alarming, she had lost her spark. Somewhere in that overcrowded portable classroom surrounded by shrieking cicadas, she left behind her love for learning. We were desperate for change. An investigation into the private schools in our area found them to be far too rigid (even coming from someone like me!) with their rules and regulations. I developed an ulcer, agonising over the next school year rapidly approaching. With my son entering kindergarten and my daughter advancing to Year 2, we were running out of options.

What if I Damage My Kids?

It was my husband who initially urged me to consider the homeschooling route. It is huge in our area, a cult, if you will. With more than 150 families in our small town homeschooling, maybe they knew something I didn’t? Was this the secret to their success? Their kids were seemingly extremely bright (though maybe a little weird). Still, I remained reluctant. I didn’t want to end up another homeschooling causality, wearing double denim and toting around kids who weren’t “socialised”. And what about all of the parties and Valentine’s Day cards my kids would miss out on while stuck at home? What about Christmas plays and Harmony Day? What if my method of “schooling” did more damage than good?

A Forced Decision

With the school year starting just around the corner, I continued to research countless schools for miles around. One by one, we eliminated them. Each school I toured produced more anxiety: the curriculum was lacking, the teachers were inexperienced, or the school was without proper funding. I couldn’t find peace enrolling my kids anywhere. I kept comparing the options to our old town’s kindergarten experience, and the discrepancy was heartbreaking. Homeschooling became the only comfortable choice. I resigned myself to the terrifying proposition, deciding that if I took their education into my own hands, at least I could choose the curriculum and the control the influences.

The Primary Benefits

We are now entering our third year of homeschooling, and though I am not a seasoned veteran, I have learned as much as my children along the way. There are so many primary advantages to homeschooling. Each child determines his own academic pace with personally designed curriculum, allowing for advancement or repetition. The school day is extremely efficient, usually completed in half the time of a traditional school day. Homeschooling has also allowed us more freedom to travel according to what is convenient for our own family. All of these benefits are amazing, but I have come to love it for other reasons.

The Secondary Benefits

I have the unique privilege of learning right alongside my children. When we study an ancient civilisation, I get to immerse myself in all of the same books they are enjoying. I now watch the spark as it occurs when they conquer a new math concept, or ace a science experiment. My kids sleep in past eight o’clock most mornings, without the frantic rush of packing lunches and getting to the bus stop on time. Best of all, my nine-year-old daughter doesn’t care who 1D are, we aren’t required to participate in school fundraisers, and we save a ton of money on bus fares and school band fees. No, they are not wearing homemade clothes yet, but they are happily doing their schoolwork in pyjamas at the kitchen table.

A Change of Heart and Lifestyle

What I initially considered an unfortunate predicament has become a beautiful way of life. I still have random pangs of sadness when I think about my kids missing out on bringing birthday cupcakes to the classroom, but overall, the positives of doing school at home far outweigh any negatives. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but for our family, it just makes sense.

Would you consider home schooling?

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Image: Getty