My husband and I were both home-schooled and are doing the same for our four children.
I like that we can be flexible with our days and plans with the kids.
I plan a monthly theme to explore together but leave room for their personal interests.
My parents started home-schooling me in the third grade, in the year 2000. It was pure coincidence that the man who would become my husband, whom I met at an out-of-state conference, had also been home-schooled growing up. One of the things Ian and I bonded over was this shared history, though we were each a graduating class of one.
Something we decided before we even had children was that we would like to try to home-school them. I always said that if it did not work for us, we would pursue traditional schooling. Indeed, last year, after my twins were born prematurely, my oldest daughter, Ramona, attended pre-K at the public school.
During her attendance, I opened myself up to the idea that maybe we would enjoy public school. In many ways, we did. Her teacher was perfectly nice, Ramona came home from her three-hour afternoon class with stories and songs someone else had done the work to teach her, and she got along well with her classmates.
But at the end of the school year, I was more certain than ever that I wanted to bring her home.
We started home-schooling over the summer
After taking a full six weeks to relax, we formally started our school year in July. My logic was we spent a lot of late summers indoors anyway to escape the triple-digit days during that time of year in central Kansas. We might as well work through the dog days of summer and take a more-substantial break from school over the busy holiday season.
While there are pros and cons to home schooling versus public school, the freedom to choose a start date at a point in the year that works for us, as well as to take breaks from school when it’s convenient, is a major benefit.
Since both my husband and I were home-schooled, the obligations of public school are often difficult for us to understand. While Ramona was in pre-K, I saw a perfect spring day in the forecast on a Monday. My husband took the day off work, and we decided to go to the zoo.
When I called the front office of my daughter’s school to let the administrator know that Ramona would not be in class, I was surprised that she asked me why not. Pre-K is not mandatory to attend — so why should I have to excuse her absence for a single day at all? We had a wonderful trip to the zoo as a family, which made me wonder whether we were cut out for being beholden to school-attendance records.
Now that Ramona is in kindergarten, she would be in a full-day class in a public school. It’s really hard for me to come to terms with the idea of a 5-year-old learning for such a long time during the day. I love that she can sleep in if she needs to or stop to play with her sisters and come back to our reading lesson later.
I can focus on what they are interested in
I also love that I can tailor our lesson plans to her interests. Math and reading skills, of course, are a consistent part of every day, but if she’s taken a sudden fascination with bugs or space or firefighting, I can pivot our lessons to focus on that.
We can paint a fire truck, or we can watch every video about the life cycle of the white grub, or we can learn a song about the solar system to help her remember planet names. I try to plan out a theme for the month that we will structure our lessons around, but if Ramona has different ideas, we have plenty of room to roll with them.
I love that I can plan our days and our months to fit our family and personalize school for my child’s needs.
My husband and I, both home-school veterans, have always been responsible and employable, and I’m confident my children will be the same.
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