If you asked me two years ago whether we would ever consider homeschooling our children, I would have had a very easy answer for you: No way!
It was something I briefly thought about before I had children, in an abstract way based on zero practical knowledge – sort of like how I decided not to feed my future kids junk food (ha!). But when you factor in actual life experience, the ideas you swore against sometimes have a way of going right out the window.
That’s what happened this past January when I found myself sitting in front of my three older children, about to embark on our first homeschool lesson while nursing my brand new 2-week-old baby.
The decision to pull our kids out of public school was not made on a whim, but it was made quickly, which was less than ideal. The kids were on the verge of starting a new semester after their Christmas break. My husband and I knew that if f we were going to make the change and pull them out of public school, we needed to act then – so we did.
The truth is that our kids were not doing so well in public school. Each child struggled in their own unique way, which ranged from academic issues to boredom. Over the course of one school year, their excitement to attend turned into a daily struggle to get them out the door.
But there was a bigger reason that public school was failing our children, and that was what ultimately led to our decision to pull them out in favor of learning at home.
Public school gave lessons on how to read and write, on math and science, but in an environment that didn’t foster any independent thinking or curiosity. Public school was not teaching them how to learn, just what to learn.
On top of that, public school is designed to reach the most common learner. This makes sense because we can’t expect our education system to take into account each child’s unique situations, but when you have a child (or two) who don’t necessarily fit the mold, you are left with two options:
1. Discuss independent education plans within the public school setting so they can stay with their peers. However, this puts kids in the situation of always working to catch up and can result in them perpetually hating school.
2. Place them in an environment that can cater to their own unique ways of learning. That will take into account each of their interests, strengths, and weaknesses, and foster lessons that teach them how to learn, not just what to learn.
My husband and I had a lot of late night conversations weighing all the options, going back and forth, and hoping we would eventually come to the decision that was best for our children. We talked about how we felt as children growing up in the public school system and what we really wanted our kids to learn. We talked to families who homeschooled, watched documentaries and video blogs on life as a homeschooling family, and learned all we could about the legality of learning from home and education plans.
Finally, we came to one easy decision: My husband and I had just spent two weeks researching, learning, and discovering something we didn’t know about (homeschooling) because we were INTERESTED in the topic. We knew how to learn about something that sparked our interest, and we wanted that for our kids.
As I look back at the past seven months of this new homeschooling adventure, I can say without a doubt that the difficult decision we made to take them out of public school was the best one for our family. Our kids have grown so much in their learning, and watching them take an active interest in what they’re studying is something I didn’t realize was possible in such a short amount of time.
Homeschooling might not have been the original plan, but as every parent knows, plans change.
I don’t think we could ever go back to public school.
Photo credit: adapted from Corey Leopold | Flickr
Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and four kids. No, those aren’t her kids’ real names – they’re online pseudonyms. Read more from Devan on Babble as she dishes about babies, pets, and love + keep up with byDevan on Facebook and Twitter!More On