When my husband and I relocated our family from St. Louis to Tampa four years ago, it seemed the perfect time to make an educational transition as well. We weren’t sure where we were going to live, so we didn’t know where to enroll the kids, and I’d been thinking about homeschooling for awhile anyway, so we made the decision to educate our children at home.
I’d love to say it was a magical year, and that I loved having my children home with me. But I can’t say that. It was really hard.
There were things I loved. The freedom to get up and do the things we wanted to each day was top of my list. Living in Florida meant we had no shortage of activities to enjoy together as a family.
Being new in town, however, left me very isolated. It really was just me and the children who were all very young at the time. I wasn’t confident in my ability to educate them well, and about six months into the homeschooling process I began to feel a lot of anxiety.
I also felt like a failure.
I’d observe other women who homeschooled their children, and they seemed to just love the process. It all looked so fun and easy. So why did I feel like I was drowning? Why couldn’t I pull it together and embrace the beautiful art of being my children’s teacher?
After one year, we felt settled enough to enroll the kids in our local public school. I sobbed the first day the bus came and picked them up, so afraid we’d made a bad decision.
I’ve learned a lot in the last three years since the’ve been in public school, and I feel much more confident in my ability to teach my children now. Looking back on our year at home, I’m able to see with a clearer perspective why it was so difficult.
We’ve decided to bring two of our children home again next year. There are several factors that we weighed out and discussed as we mulled over the decision.
Athletics: These two children are extremely involved in sports, and the time spent on their sporting endeavors makes life hectic if they’re in school all day. Homeschooling allows us to give them the opportunity to continue growing in their sports, while not sacrificing their education in the process.
Resources: I know more now than I did four years ago. Tampa has a lot of really great resources to offer homeschooling families, from virtual school to hybrid school programs and co-ops. Our children will attend a co-op one day a week, and the other days they will be home with me.
I also spoke with our elementary school and explained our reasons for leaving, and I asked them what options the kids had for remaining involved in the school. The offer has been extended to our children to continue to take music, art and P.E. at their public school, which is a huge relief to us as a family.
Our oldest son will not be homeschooled, much to his chagrin. Because he is entering middle school, I felt it best for him to continue on his current educational path. He is also the child who functions much better with a very set structure.
What we have to remember as parents is that education is not one size fits all. This is one of the challenges most schools face as they shuttle kids in and out of grade levels based solely on age. But we also have to be willing to take that same approach with our own children.
Not all children within the same family are cut out for the same educational path. Based on your family situation, it’s good to know that you have options to help your children best succeed. Even if private school or homeschool are not an option for your situation, with a little bit of effort you may see that there are resources to help your child best succeed right where she is.
Take courage, moms. You know how to best help your children through their triumphs and challenges. And, no matter your circumstance, you have options when it comes to education. There’s no need to argue over which educational path is the right one, because the determination of right changes with each child.
And no one knows what’s right for your child better than you do.