Iâ€™m going to step out of the shadows now and say it right out loud: weâ€™re planning to homeschool Lucy for kindergarten next year.
This hasnâ€™t been an easy decision for us. We actually have a very nice local public school just a few blocks from our home, where we know many families and even a couple of the teachers. Iâ€™d always planned to send the girls there. But I’ve been reading a bit more about homeschooling over the last few years, and I’ve been lured in.
Photo: Botany, agriculture, commerce, history, home ec, geography, climatology, chemistry, creation care, generosity, knife safety, you name it — apple-picking is so educational!
It all began a couple of years ago, at a church moms group meeting where people were discussing schooling options. For the first time, I met a mother who worked part-time and homeschooled her daughter for grades K-2. I had always assumed that I homeschooling was out of the question for mothers who work (even part-time, as I do), but this got me thinking. I started reading several books and blogs, and began to get really interested in this option for our family.
The benefits to homeschooling are well-known and often discussed, once you enter the conversation: individualized instruction, less time needed to cover â€œschool” subjects, more unstructured time, lots of opportunities for field trips, no morning rush, excuses to bake cookies while practicing math (or is it the other way around?), etc.
But the most compelling reason for me is purely spending more time with Lucy and Rosie. I’m very grateful for Jon’s excellent, nearby job, but I confess that I regret the fact that he has to be at the office during the day — and I feel even less enthusiastic about losing time with my girls. Even Lucyâ€™s preschool program, for four afternoons each week, puts a cramp in our family style. Lucy and I both love her preschool, but I really miss the freedom we had in the summer to schedule our days with very few restrictions, following our curiosities wherever they took us.
Homeschooling in order to spend more time with my daughters has felt, frankly, like a poorly founded reason. In some ways, I sort of wish I had an excuse: an unsavory local school, or lots of travel in our life, etc. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’d like to homeschool mainly because it sounds like fun.
I finally felt free to admit this when I read this interview with a homeschooling family. Her response to the question “Why homeschool?” resonated with me: “Lots of reasons, but basically we just want the time with our children. They grow up so quickly.” Yes! I’m not the kind of person who wants to homeschool to protect my kids from the scary world, or to create tiny geniuses in our house, and that’s okay. I just want some extra time to nurture our curiosity together, read lots of books, and snuggle.
Still, I feel a little shy talking about homeschooling, for several reasons:
- Although the idea of homeschooling is very appealing to me, Iâ€™m a little nervous about my ability to pull it off. I really appreciate all the creative ideas I see at Lucy’s preschool. I think I could probably get to the point where I have good ideas like that, but it will take some serious time investment.
- Like many other parenting choices, homeschooling can feel like a loaded topic. I donâ€™t in any way want to alienate parents who choose traditional schooling for their children. Most of my best friends, people whom I respect very highly, are sending their kids out to school!
- We like the idea of being part of a diverse community in public school, and homeschooling doesn’t present this kind of built-in opportunity. I am interested in seeing what kinds of homeschooling group options we might enjoy.
I feel glad that I’ve been thinking hard about homeschooling at this time of the year, as it gives me almost a full year to really get my plans in order before we begin “kindergarten.” I still have tons of questions, like these:
- Will we use a curriculum? Or will we unschool?
- Can we find a homeschooling group to suit us?
- What social opportunities will we invest in?
- What kinds of private lessons or instruction might the girls benefit from and enjoy?
- When will I find time to plan our school days?
- Will we send Rosie to preschool next year?
- Will Lucy enjoy it as much as I think she will?
I don’t have any plans about how long weâ€™d homeschool, and I’m not really sure how it will go. But I’m pretty excited about giving it a good try!