Homeschooling Experience by Kelly Anderson
I was a homeschooling mom for the 2009-10 school year. It was full of good and challenging moments. Here’s a glimpse at our experience:
I initially decided to homeschool for two main reasons. First of all I felt like my younger children (then aged 3& 5) needed more time with their older brother (9) who was spending most of his day away from us on the bus and at school and was getting home around 4pm every day just in time to see his sisters at their most tired time. It was frustrating when they didn’t get to see each other in their best hours of the day. I felt that they all deserved to have more time together to explore education and create memories together. I also wanted the flexibility of travel whenever we wanted.
The second reason we chose to homeschool was because I disliked the half-day kindergarten system where you have to basically be tied to the school. I knew that the driving back/forth lifestyle would be a headache for us, particularly because I also run a small business.
My son initially was absolutely against the idea of homeschool, particularly because, for him, school is all about the social aspects. I decided I would bribe him with $100 if he made it through the year and he agreed. I let him name our school, pick our school colors, our school pet, help decide on curriculum, etc. and that was all the fun part for him. We started our days out at 9am or whenever they woke up and we would be finished around 2pm. We would have a lunch break, which usually included some sort of cooking experience. That ended up being a nice benefit to have my kids learn how to make enchiladas and such. Since then my son has really taken to cooking and now regularly makes meals for us. We did a lot of music, art and science projects after lunch and that was fun. I also really cherish the memories we made in various outings to events, hikes, library time, museums, and spur of the moment trips. The best thing of all is that we were never rushed to read our scriptures or pray together and I feel that we had some very meaningful discussions together.
The down side was that my son had a lot more school work than my daughter and she’d finish within about an hour and he’d still have 3. He regularly felt that life was ‘unfair’ and felt very alone in his work. Then when he did finish I had to catch up on my work and he’d end up playing video games for longer than I’d like to admit. His friends would get home and he’d be excited to play with them, only to find that none of them could play because they had homework to do. So I heard a lot of “I’m bored, I don’t know what to do,” etc. My son isn’t a self-starter type of kid so I’d get frustrated when I’d get him all set going on his math assignment and then get a phone call or help his sisters and he’d be off running to another activity. For me to succeed with my son at homeschool required me to sit next to him for hours going over each problem, etc. which I wasn’t really prepared to do. At school my son does fine because he sees the other kids working and goes along with the group, but at home he required my full attention and my idea of homeschool wasn’t his. So after about 6 months of struggling and fearing we’d hate each other for life, I let him go back to public school (to a charter) and it was a huge blessing for us both, particularly because he got the best teacher who caught him up where we were behind in math and we were able to have a better relationship because I could just be “mom” again. I did pay him his $100 for trying it so he was happy about that!
I homeschooled my daughter the entire year and would consider homeschooling her again because her personality is ideal for it, but for now we’ve decided to put her in school. We’ll see how it goes. A year really made a difference for her. I’m glad we experienced it and I recommend homeschooling for those who are looking for a flexible lifestyle and who want to design their own curriculum, etc. I would say, however, that you might want to consider trading with another homeschooling parent once a week because I think I did go a bit crazy from having my kids all day/all night/all year. Or plan for a way to give yourself breaks in the evenings to get away from the house.
At the end of the day, if you’re wondering if homeschool is for you, I believe you can only arrive at that decision by listening to your heart about it. I received a lot of negative comments from well-intentioned friends about my decision to homeschool and, if anything, it just made me want to try it even more, so I’ll always cheer those who choose this path and hope that it goes well for them. Truly, homeschool can be a very beautiful thing. I know that we serve our family best when we’re trying to be in tune with what their needs are and act upon the promptings we receive to be their best guides and teachers in this life.
Kelly King Anderson is the Founder of Startup Princess, an organization dedicated to serving women entrepreneurs. She’d be delighted to have you join her for The 4th Annual Startup Princess Touchpoint Conference is Sept 23-24th in SLC http://www.startupprincess.com/touchpoint