Thursday, October 3, 2013

So I've Decided to Homeschool

Up until two days ago, I had been saying that I was "open" on what to do about Declan's early education.  Ryan is very supportive of my lean towards homeschooling, but if I felt otherwise he would consider other options.  Both of our sets of parents would also be happy to see us keep him home.  Ryan grew up in private school and I was homeschooled, so we are certainly influenced by our backgrounds in alternative forms of education.

Most of Declan's little friends attend some sort of daycare or mother's day out program a couple of days a week.  I work from home part-time in addition to being a stay-at-home mom, and I've thought at times it seemed ideal to put him in a program 2 days a week.  I would be able to work more, he would have exposure to a new environment and structured activities.  On paper there are certainly a lot of reasons for me to jump on the train.

Last March I had decided to do it.  He'd be entering the toddler class with his best friend and it was going to be perfect.  A few days before his first day, however, I had these major knots in my stomach.  All I could think about was the time I would miss out on with him.  I imagined the activities he would do, and I thought I could do that.  So, I called and cancelled his enrollment.

Since then, I wonder sometimes if I should consider it again now that he's almost 2 1/2 years old.  I've asked myself is it best for him or best for me?  I hear my friends talking about how they feel like their little ones are learning social skills and how to respect other authority.  I feel afraid sometimes that my son won't learn those things if he stays at home with me.

But I look at him and I watch him interact with other people, and to me, he doesn't seem behind on those skills.  I think about my own childhood and growing up surrounded mostly by homeschoolers.  Where are my homeschool friends now?  Do they lack social skills?  Do they have trouble with authority?  By and large -- no, they don't.  In fact I remember growing up that I felt very comfortable around adults and I could sense when other kids had similar values to mine, and I was drawn to them.  In high school I was usually teacher's pet, I was definitely not a rule breaker, and I had a lot of friends.  I was however, very uncomfortable around rowdy kids.  Not to say that homeschooling made me a perfect child, but I know myself and I can very well picture my people-pleaser and rebellious personality growing up in public school and not being the same person I am today.  There are exceptions, but my point is that being homeschooled did not seem to inhibit me from having quality friends or knowing how to respect authority figures.

And why would it?  When you're homeschooled, your main influences are your parents and the kids and other adults that your parents choose to bring into your life.  I am intentional about Declan having playdates with other children several times a week (I even log them because it is important to me that he gets that).  What I like about these is that I get to oversee his interactions with kids and adults and use every opportunity to teach him "this is acceptable" or "this isn't."  I would strongly disagree that kids need a classroom setting in order to develop social skills or learn respect for authority.

Education, I think, is the biggest thing that sets my decision apart from other parents'.  It helps me understand that this road is for us even if it's not for them.  I've had a few friends tell me things like, "I'm not creative enough to think of ways to teach my child" or "You're the teacher-type."  I'm always kinda stumped because I really don't see myself as especially creative, and my mom's the teacher in my family, not me!  Those kind of comments made me see that it's not that I'm creative or "teachery," it's that I'm comfortable where others may not be.  It's what my childhood looked like.  I grew up with two wonderful professional teachers in my life - my great grandmother (whom we lived with until I was 14) and my mom.  Also, I was the oldest in my family.  I have a brother who is 4 years younger and a sister who is 12 years younger than me.  My mom started homeschooling us when I was in 4th grade and continued until I finished high school.  I've always known "it's not for everyone," but now that I'm starting to think more like a "homeschool mom" I realized that without my school years at home, the responsibility of my child's education may seem better left to the professionals.  My comfort and confidence level with homeschooling is a 10, whereas my friends with different backgrounds may not have a strong idea of what homeschooling looks like.  I've heard some moms say, "[My child's] teachers can teach him things that I can't." and I just instantly think, Now that's not true!  He's a toddler, his education is pretty simple!!  But I do think I can understand that mindset that they have.  I consider our situation entirely different because of the "mom-teacher mindset" I have ingrained in me.  And I'm so thankful for it!  (Thanks, Mom!)

So, I just want to say to my friends - we may have different ways of doing it, but I know our visions are the same and our love for our kids can't be compared.  I hope this helps you understand our decision a little bit better.  Let's continue supporting each other as we raise our kids to love God and love people.