12 Aug, 2011

How We Decided to Educate Our Kids at Home

I feel so blessed to live in a country where we have choices about how we will educate our children.

Last year, the Lord laid it on our heart to educate our children at home for at least a season. Our oldest daughter attended 2 years of public school and last year we decided to bring her home. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done as a family. This year, our 5-year-old will begin Kindergarten at home. I’m excited for this new school year!

If you would have asked me 4 years ago if I would ever consider homeschooling, I would have said, “No way!”. I was actually quite against the idea and felt that many of the homeschooled kids that I knew growing up were socially “off”.  I would never want that for my children.

But I have to say, things sure have changed! The amount of information, resources, support groups (co-ops), community education classes, and field trip opportunities available for homeschoolers is really quite amazing!  There are actually so many options where we live that I need to be very disciplined as I choose how our family will spend each day.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s how we decided to educate our kids at home.

1. The first thing that caught our attention was the way some of our friends were successfully educating their kids at home. Their children were well-behaved and doing very well academically. Their kids had many friends. Their families were very close. This was the first thing that made us think, “Hey, they’re not weird.”

2. The Lord began to put the desire in our hearts. We had one little conversation with a couple that we are close friends with. They expressed how they were open to homeschooling in the future and explained their reasons. This conversation planted a tiny seed in our hearts. At first we were curious about what it would look like for our family. That curiosity grew into research. We committed to pray about it.

3. As we began to research the many ways you can educate your child at home, we made a list of pro’s and con’s.

For the pro’s we listed things like:

  • We have the ability to do this. I work primarily from home, so this is doable for our family.
  • It would cut down the amount of time we spend in the car as a family. I don’t like the idea of my role as being a taxi driver while my kids are still so young.
  • We would get to see Clara for the best part of her day and not just be on the receiving end of the tired, “I’ve been at school all day” attitude.
  • It would give our girls- especially the oldest and youngest children (6 years apart in age) a good chance to develop a close relationship.
  • I would have the opportunity to be the first one to introduce her to things like Greek Mythology, world religions, and events in history which would allow us to take a look at these important things with a Biblical Worldview.
  • It would give Clara the opportunity to explore the things that she is interested in (either academic or extra-curricular) during the day. This would allow us to have dinner together as a family and would enable her to have a restful evening before going to bed.
  • No homework. She would complete her work during the day.
  • 1:1 attention is better than the 1:30 attention that a teacher would be able to give.
  • She is a fast learner. Working 1-on-1 would allow her to move at her own pace ( faster with the subjects that come easily and  more slowly with subjects that are more difficult).
  • In real life, you are not always put in situations where everyone around you is exactly your age. She would have the ability to be exposed to many people and would develop manners based on our example at home.

For the con’s, we listed things like:

  • She loves school, why should we take her out?
  • She will miss her friends.
  • She may miss riding the bus, recess and eating lunch in the cafeteria.
  • This is a LOT more work at home for me, maybe I will go crazy.
  • Maybe she will go crazy being at home with her sisters so much.
  • She is doing well right now. What if her grades drop?

4. We made the decision to not be ruled by fear in either circumstance. We decided that we would not send our kids to school simply because we were afraid to try something new. We would not keep them home because we were afraid of how they may be influenced at school.

Since God is with our children wherever they go (home or school) we do not have to be afraid. He is their provider and protector and always has their best interest in mind.

5. We developed goals for the school year that we wanted our kids to accomplish no matter what  (organizational skills, etc).

6. We looked at all of the options available to us, along with how much money we were willing to spend for that academic year (Homeschooling can be expensive!). We made a decision that BOTH Jeremy and I fully agreed with. It was definitely important to be united in this decision.

7. Jeremy and I would often remind each other that God has entrusted these beautiful girls to us. So whatever we chose to do should not be influenced by what is best for another family. We are accountable to God for what we do- not for how well we “keep up” with someone else.

8. In the end, we chose to educate Clara at home- in partnership with the public school system. We enrolled her in the Minnesota Virtual Academy which utilizes curriculum by k12. We decided initially to try it for one semester. If that went well, we would finish the year and then re-valuate for the next year.

9. We decided to evaluate what is best for each child… each year.

We believe that God will continue to guide our steps.

“The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.” Psalm 37:23

We don’t have to have it all figured out. We just need to focus on the “next step”. God will handle the rest.

I’ll post more about our curriculum choices for both of the girls tomorrow.

 

How will your children be educated this year? What does your decision process look like?

Leave a comment if you would like to share!

 

 

5 Comments

  • Great post! I educate our kids at home. We have chosen to be a part of a Classical Conversations community this year & are looking forward to the great new opportunities for learning using the Classical Method, & the new friendships that will be made as we share the journey with others!

    • Hey Kristi- I’m really interested in Classical Conversations as a possibility for the future. I’d love to hear how about your experience with it.

  • Honestly, this is a topic that scares me. Even though we have time before Levi even starts school, there are different options to weigh in: our new community has a really good public school system, Matt and I attended Christian schools growing up, and I work at home giving us the option to homeschool. Even as I plan on scheduling a c-section for our second son, I am thinking about doing it before the school cut off date of Sept 1st. I too haven’t really considered homeschooling, but I now know more and more friends who are doing it for their children. Definitely something to keep in mind!

    • Amanda- Sometimes I’m just grateful that my girls were all born before August. :) It’s amazing how much planning goes into all of this! Thank God for giving us wonderful opportunities and options. I’m so thankful for the way He leads us!

  • I remember coming to visit you guys after you had just made this decision and how nervous/excited you all were. I am so glad to hear how successful and fulfilling it’s been for you. We plan to put the boys in public school here, but I am certainly open to the homeschooling option if that is what they need. Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

So, what do you think?