Reader Questions: Why Do You Homeschool?

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This is the second in a series of posts answering your questions about homeschooling.  The first post was answering the question about how to find friends.  If you have a question, I’d love feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer it in a future post.

Today I’ll be answering Gabi’s question, “How did you start homeschooling? Was that a lot of change in your family’s life?

It’s been almost exactly two years since I’ve answered the why question on my blog, so I bet there are a lot of people who haven’t heard my answer before.  Homeschooling was something that I had always had in the back of my mind.  I had a close friend and a step-sister who homeschooled, so the idea wasn’t foreign to me.  When it got close to time for Brianna to start Kindergarten, however, she wanted to go to “big school.”  My husband, who knew me to be a woman of grandiose plans, but with issues on the follow-through was concerned about the long-term commitment.  While I would have been willing to try homeschooling, I wasn’t yet convicted about it, so we sent Brianna to school.

By the end of first grade, it was time to make a decision.  Brianna was really struggling with reading (we didn’t know, at that time, that she had some dyslexia and tracking problems) and the school wasn’t sure what to do with her.  “We’ll just pass her on to second grade,” they said.  “She should catch up by the end of the year.”

“But what if she doesn’t,” I asked, wondering how continuing with what obviously wasn’t working was going to fix anything.  “Isn’t that going to be a pretty miserable year?”

Well, we’ll just hold her back,” they countered.  “She’ll be a leader in first grade and can have another year to catch up her reading.”

“What about all the stuff that she’s not struggling with though?  Math?  Science?  Social studies?  Won’t it be boring for her to repeat all that stuff?”

Silence.  We decided to go with Option C — homeschooling.

It was clear, midway through our first year homeschooling, that this was the path for us.  We were able to focus on Brianna’s strengths while shoring up her weaknesses.  We took a completely different approach to reading — phonics, with Sing, Spell, Read and Write, as opposed to the “whole word learning disguised as phonics” that she’d been taught in school — and in months, she was taking off, reading on grade level by the end of her second grade year.

That was in 2002 and we’ve been homeschooling ever since.  Was it a big change in our family’s life?  To some extent.  It was an adjustment, more for Brianna and I than anyone else, to go from sending her off each morning for school to doing school at home.  There wasn’t as much “that’s not how Mrs. So-and-so did it” as I expected.  There were some rough moments as far as me trying to teach Brianna, as opposed to just being Mom, but I’ve often said that it really was never any worse than trying to do homework with her, as any parent who’s ever had to help a child with their homework can probably understand.

As far as our overall lifestyle, homeschooling was much easier than public school.  Josh and Megan were 3 and 1 at the time.  It was nice not having to drag everyone out every morning, no matter what the weather was like, to get Brianna to school.  It was nice being able to live, eat, breathe, and school according to our schedule, rather than the public school schedule.

It took some time to find our groove — four years to be exact.  During those first three years there was a lot of trial and error with curriculum and schedules.  However, we found a good fit with math and reading early on, so I always felt that as long as those two subjects were solidly in place, everything else would fall into place and it did.

About January of our first year, Brianna announced that she wanted to go back to public school.  We sat down and discussed that and worked our way through it.  Now, Brianna will be the first to tell you how much she loves homeschooling and that she has no desire to return to public school.

So, yes, there were some aspects that were a big adjustment, such as redefining the parent/teacher/student/child roles, but other things, such as meshing the homeschooling part of our days with the living life together as a family part of our days seemed to happen pretty quickly.  There are some things that I wish I could go back and change.  I’ll admit that it took me a couple of years for me to loosen up and let go of that public school image of learning and realize that our homeschool doesn’t have to mimic a classroom to be effective.  Just ask the people who knew me back then.

Was homeschooling a big change for our family?  Without a doubt.  When I try to imagine our lives without homeschooling, I can’t.  We have a teenager who, for the most part, enjoys spending time with her family.  We have a family that is together 90% of the time.  Yes, there is bickering among the kids, but they love each other and they’re friends.

I pointed out to the kids recently that if they were in public school, all five of us would be somewhere different for the majority of the day — my youngest would be in elementary school, my son in middle school, my oldest in high school, mom at home, and dad at work.  I can’t imagine how that would affect our family life and I don’t want to.  We began homeschooling for academic reasons, but we have discovered that homeschooling is about so much more than just an education.  It’s a lifestyle of living and learning together and I wouldn’t trade these few precious years of having our family together for anything.

What about you?  What ultimately led your family to choose homeschooling?  Was it a big adjustment for your family?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Thank you for this. I've read through all your links and they are very informative! It's interesting to read your reasons for homeschooling then and now. I hope to get where you are but there are days when I do the "what if's".

  2. Hi there! I have only been reading your blog for about a month or so. I am SO happy to have discovered it. It is our second year homeschooling (I have a 3 and 4.5 yr old). Nobody in mine or my husbands family is familiar with HS'ing so I composed a blog post to explain to everyone why we were doing it. It was hard and I was nervous. I recieved a bunch of feedback and now the family rarely ever questions my reasons. I am SO glad I did in on my blog. It made it much easier for me as I am not a confrontational person and not too quick witted w/ witty 'come backs'…if you get what I am saying.

    Here is my response as to why we HS.

    I love any feedback as some of my family still haven't read it. It is a blessing to have support from other HS mommas!

  3. I think I was drawn to homeschooling because I felt like so much of my own time in school was, well, wasted–and that an awful lot of the real learning that went on happened at home and elsewhere, just as part of life! We're starting our third year, now with two children officially "school age" and I wouldn't want to do anything different!

  4. Thanks for sharing some wonderful insights into the way you chose to educate your family, Kris! I can tell this is already helpful for many and will be helpful for many more as well.

    Ryan from Alpha Omega Publications

  5. I started homeschooling because, when our oldest turned 5, I felt like I hadn't had any time at all to be at home with her, because I had worked off an on. A LOT of people at church homeschooled, which I thought was CRAZY (we should leave that to the "professionals"…right?) But, when oldest was 5 and youngest was 2, I jumped in, with intentions to send oldest to school by first grade…then my deadline was third grade. We couldn't afford private school, and I had heard things in the community about our elementary school's problem with violence, as well as the middle and high schools which are rife with gangs – and we live in the suburbs, not the inner city. Before I knew what happened, I forgot all about sending her to school. This year, we have one in 7th, one in 4th, and one in K.

  6. I love reading everyone's answers to these sorts of questions!

    All my reasons pretty much fall into two categories: First, I know I can give my kids a higher quality education and second, I want to be there to guide them through social situations without subjecting them to unnecessarily difficult or inappropriate things.

    My best friend is a public school parent. I have watched her struggle for YEARS – punitive amounts of homework, counteracting the values and messages the kids bring home…Public school parents do more of the work than they give themselves credit for – why not cut out the middle man?

  7. I love and totally agree with the last line of this post. As you said, my kids are FRIENDS. Yes, they bicker at times, but don't most friends? I have too many reasons for why we homeschool to list them all here. To sum it up, my husband is a public school teacher, I used to be and I've also tutored children with learning struggles, and we see homeschooling as a MUCH better option.

  8. I am getting ready to begin my first year of homeschooling my (upcoming 2nd grade) daughter for the exact same reason!!

    We have talked about homeschooling for years. I have to say I had a "fear" of being able to…until my daughter's experience in 1st grade. Then, I just knew this was what we needed to do for her. We are all so excited.

    I feel so lucky to have found your blog last month through a friend of mine. You have no idea how much comfort I have found. I am so grateful for all of the homeschool blogging moms that have been so full of inspiration and support through your stories and advice. Thank you so much!!!!

  9. Our reasons for homeschooling have changed as we've homeschooled. For awhile it was to wait until the kids get a spot in the charter school we want them in; it has been to give them a deeper education that plays on their strengths and interests; it has been to keep the kids in the same "school" and strengthen our family. We also have found that as our kids are going through school, our educational philosophy differs from that of a school.

    Our kids have gone to public, private and homeschool. None is perfect – all have strengths and weaknesses. But homeschool seems to hold the strengths we value most and the weaknesses that we don't mind so much.

    The biggest adjustment was my own – saying goodbye to what I thought my life with kids would look like (school, work/volunteer, free time during the day). I much prefer this life, but there has been a huge difference between expectation and reality.

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