- Written by Katie Harris Katie Harris
You know your children better than anyone else After years of consideration, our family made the leap to homeschooling earlier this school year. The decision was sudden, in a way. Other than an off-the-cuff comment here and there, we’d really never talked about the idea with family or friends.
I had always been intrigued by homeschooling families who personalized lesson plans to target their children’s interests, provided almost constant one-on-one academic support, and spent homework-free nights around the dinner table as a family. I’d just been too afraid to make the leap. Our kids were happy after all; they’d never asked to leave school.
Late last year, after a stressful election season for our district, my husband and I spent two late nights debating pros and cons. My fears hadn’t lessened, but we decided it was now or never. After all, the kids weren’t getting any younger, and our window to go for it was only getting smaller.
After a week of daunting, gruesome, and at times maddening research and online shopping, I had complete curriculums in every subject shipped to my door, and lesson plans written up for the remainder of the year. Let me tell you, that week sucked. It was long, and I cried. Then came the kids’ last day of school, and they cried.
Friends have asked me, how did you make that decision? How did you know for sure? Truthfully, I didn’t. I changed my mind, regretted our choice, but as another saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy, and this was no exception.
The next day we got to it. There were crisp new workbooks that our inner nerds couldn’t wait to dive into. The kids each had science observation journals and the promise that we’d complete as many of our lessons outdoors as possible. Personally, I was most excited about the classics I’d picked out from a thrift store to read aloud each day.
I’m not one to sugarcoat things, so I tell you in all truthfulness that the experience of homeschooling, for us, has been even more wonderful than I could have imagined. For us, the risk paid off in a big way. We found our perfect fit, and it was a little outside the box.
Reader, I write this to you, not to encourage you to homeschool. Despite my raving review, I promise that’s not my intention. I don’t know you. I don’t know your kids. I don’t know what your life is like, or what your schedule is like. Homeschooling’s not for everyone.
My hope in sharing our experience is that, whatever internal parenting battle you might be facing, you trust your instincts. The pressures of our society on parents can be intense. Doing things outside the box is often frowned upon, whether it’s dressing our children differently from other kids, disciplining them differently than the parenting books suggest, or pulling them out of a traditional school setting and taking their educations into our own hands.
We, as parents, know our kids best, and they count on us to make those hard decisions, even when it feels like the whole world’s against us.
The thing I never could have predicted was the amount of support I’ve had, from teachers and staff at my kids’ old school, to friends, to family members.
The experience taught me that if you trust your gut, make your decision, and are willing to defend it, the people in your life will likely come around. In your heart, you know what’s best for your kids. Believe in yourself--you’ve got this!