Making the decision to homeschool is not one to make lightly. Careful consideration should be paid to the lifestyle change you are embarking on. Here are some of the most significant changes our family experienced. I’ll start with what we lost…
If you’re a high energy parent who thrives on getting things done just in the nick of time homeschool may not be for you. Gone for us are the days of dragging little people out of bed before the sun rises, gathering up lost papers, socks, shoes and backpacks. I no longer throw sandwiches, yogurts and cookies together in a little lunch boxes. On that note, I also no longer find 3 day old lunches in the bottom of a backpack either. We no longer wear damp clothes that didn’t make it into the dryer the night before.
We also stopped wolfing down fast food in the back seat of the car on the way home from a baseball game or church because it was too late to eat dinner at home and the kids need to be in bed for their early school day. We even have time to occasionally grab an ice cream with friends after church but we’ll go over that in the gains.
2. Paying into the never ending school fund
You know what I’m talking about. Lunch money, field trip money, special-holiday-candy gram money… fundraisers, donations, gifts for everyone… The back to school clothes must haves, school supplies, lunch boxes and backpacks. It’s expensive is it not? We still have a school fund but we get to use it at our own discretion for field trips or special projects. It’s a whole lot more fun picking teacher gifts when you’re the teacher too.
If there is one thing that has remained the same in my life it’s my disdain for homework. I didn’t like it as a student and I hated it as a parent. I never understood why my child went to school 8 hours a day and still had 3 hours of homework a night. Now that I am a homeschool mom I get it. There is a lot of work to do at school but the teacher doesn’t have time to get through all of it because she’s teaching 20 – 30 kids at a time. She’s dealing with bathroom breaks, questions, recess… as a homeschool mom with 2 kids learning at once it’s much easier and quicker to get through the material.
4. The 3 pm pick up line and school bus traffic
When my boys attended school they were in a small private school. 200 – 250 kids total so the pick up line really wasn’t bad. It was a 10 – 15 minute deal. My public school mom friends were jealous. It took a full hour for most of them to get in and out of the pick up line! An hour! Can you imagine an hour of your day to pick your child up and then 3 hours of homework? How do schools expect kids to be able to participate in extra curricular activities with a schedule like this? Now we sit home in the afternoons, sometimes riding bikes, playing on the neighborhood playground or even swimming. We avoid school bus traffic, school zones and pick up lines. It’s blissful.
5. Constant illnesses
This one was a biggie for our family. Our kids were sick constantly while they were in school. It stands to reason too. Parents have to work, kids get sick. Many times parents send their kids to school because “they aren’t that sick” simply because they can’t take time off work to stay home. Kids come to school with fevers that have been medicated at home, the flu, even stomach viruses all because parents can’t miss work. Know what that means? You guessed it, everyone else gets sick too. I’m not faulting working parents, the system stinks. You have to do what you have to do but everyone pays. Since we’ve been a homeschool family my pediatrician has seen much less of us. Yes, they are still around kids regularly and they still get sick but it’s much more of a rarity these days and that makes for a happy momma.
Ok, this one is pretty serious but it’s really just part of the life for some people. I have lost one or two good friends since we became a homeschool family. Mainly because I would see them during school hours for coffee or lunch and I don’t have that luxury now. Not many moms enjoying their “me time” want you to show up for coffee with a brood of kids and that’s OK. I still love my friends, even though we don’t get to see each other now and our lives have moved in different directions but can I just say that I’ve made some pretty amazing new friends too? There are a lot of homeschool families out there with some pretty spectacular moms. They understand what you’re going through because they live the life themselves. They can offer a different type of love and support than someone who doesn’t understand this lifestyle. Please don’t think of this as a way to lose all your mommy friends, it’s really not. It is, however, a way to make a lot of new ones.
When your kids go to school you have ZERO control over who they associate with. I bet you don’t even learn 90% of the things that happen during the day. You don’t get to help your kids through tough moments on the playground. You don’t get to give them advice on how to handle a situation. You know who does? Their peers. Who do you think is going to give better advice on how to handle a bully, an 8 year old or you? When you are a homeschool mom you have a lot of control over who your kids hang out with. You can lead them into healthy friendships. You can help give them godly advice when they have trouble getting along. You can help them develop real, working relationships. Your child will never find themselves crying alone on a playground because of something a snot nosed bully said. Nope. If that snot nosed bully is on our playground we can handle it. We can leave if we need to and not play with him again. Yes, kids need to learn to deal with all sorts of people. They really do, but who do you want leading them through those situations?
Now that we’ve covered some of the losses, can we talk gains? These are some of the things our family has gained by homeschooling and I’m so glad to be able to share them with you!
My favorite gain is time! Our family doesn’t rush, ever! If a baseball game goes into extra innings we come home, eat, shower, pray and go to bed. If it’s late we sleep a bit later and start school a bit later the following day. If my husband takes a day off work to go fishing we don’t have to worry about how many excused absences we have or making up assignments. We just go. If we find out that it’s snowing at Aunt Mel’s in Georgia we can pack up and head out! Beach day? Sure thing! We can always school at night, or have a make up day next week. We have the freedom to enjoy their childhood.
3. A relationship with our kids
I know that every parent has this but when you are with your kids 24/7 your relationship is affected. It grows deeper, closer. When you teach your child you get to know them on a different level. I don’t have questions about my kids. I don’t wonder who they play with, who their influences are. I know how they tick. I know what they love. I know how they learn. They also trust me on a different level.
4. A deeper relationship with Christ
This one is for me. I’ve always been a christian but I have rarely had to depend on God in my life. I grew up in a good home, we had the money to have nice things. I enjoyed a great lifestyle and rarely wanted for anything. Homeschooling my kids brings me to God on a daily basis. Not because it’s difficult but because I want to do it right. I pray to God daily for him to work through me in their lives. I pray for their minds to be open and pliable. I pray for their success, their education, their spiritual guidance. I pray for my patience, my discipline, my time. I. Pray. All. Day. Long. This constant dialog with God has deepened my relationship and dependence on Him. This one particular gain is worth it all. When our kids see us depending on God, deepening our relationship with Him then they are much more inclined to do the same.
5. A new respect from my husband
My husband has always loved and respected me however, knowing that I am home all day with our kids. Teaching, disciplining, loving and nurturing them makes him look at me in a new light. I am not perfect, I am so far from it but my husband admires what I’m doing. He sees the way the kids are growing, the way they are learning and the efforts I put in and he appreciates me. I also appreciate him more, when he comes home and he’s had a long day and he still does a sink full of dishes because he knows I’ve had a long day too it makes my heart happy.
6. We are now a HOMEWORK FREE ZONE!
I know that homework was counted in the losses but I’m counting this as a gain! One of my favorite things about homeschool is that there is no homework! We finish our assignments during school hours and when schools done it’s DONE. Our normal scheduled day starts at 8 am. We do school until 10:30 and then we take a break. After our break we school until lunchtime, around 12:30 and as a general rule we are done by that point. Twice a week we have science in the afternoons but that’s fun school so it really doesn’t feel like work. We have our afternoons and evenings free to do as we please. The kids play baseball twice a week in the evenings and it’s so nice to have time to rest after school, eat dinner and go. No one stressing over an unfinished assignment or having time to study for a big test. It’s awesome!
7. A closer family
One of my favorite byproducts of homeschooling is the closeness of our kids. Yes, they fight just like any other siblings but I’m there to help them through it. My 5th grader will help my 3rd grader when he’s struggling with something new. They read together, and they read to their little sister. They also take turns teaching her things during the day. We schedule something we like to call “Livi Time” into our day. When I’m doing math or english with one of the boys the other will take Liv into her playroom and play with her. Sometimes this is just a tea party or puzzle and sometimes it’s learning numbers, colors and shapes! Liv will come and ask for “Livi time.” They all love it. It’s pretty special in our house. I love watching them play, I love watching her learn. I love watching them work together. The boys are fiercely protective of their baby sister. It’s sad to me that if they were in school they’d barely know her.
It’s no secret that I love the homeschool lifestyle. It fits our family and we love everything about it. I’m not anti public or private school, you have to do what fits your families needs. This article is meant to uplift those thinking of switching to homeschool, not to browbeat those who choose more traditional education methods. We are all doing what we feel is best for our kids. Keep loving them, keep providing for them and keep doing what you do best!