My Journey to Homescholing

Sometimes I'm such an information hound - always reading, researching, learning and breaking things down and then repackaging to deliver and teach that I forget how helpful and encouraging it can be to just hear someone's story.

I was reflecting recently and realized that even though homeschooling is something I had never planned to do it's become something that I can't imagine my life without. It was a twisty route to get here but it's quite literally a perfect fit for my personality and goals. It is such a major part of my purpose, passion and brings so much joy and satisfaction to my life.

Let me tell you how we got here, to being 5 years deep in Willms Grove Elementary.

Going way back - I loved school. I knew very early on that I wanted to be a teacher. I often spent time in the school system working with younger grades and assisting teachers in our school and taking advantage of work programs where I would also teach. I excelled in the public school system academically and athletically. Even as a student though, I could identify that often I did well because I knew what the teachers wanted and I could tell them what they wanted to hear.

It was a no brainer for me to attend U of R and get my education degree and I jumped into teaching Middle Years with both feet as soon as I convocated. I loved teaching Middle Years but as any beginning teacher can attest to, all romantic notions of being an educator fly out the window very quickly. You often start to sense a bit of an "us vs them" sub culture between teachers and division administrators making decisions about how and what you teach.

Teaching in the system often left me feeling like I was teaching with one hand tied behind my back or  like I was constantly having to jump through hoops in order to meet the needs of my students. I am by nature not a hoop jumper, I like to get to the heart of things quickly and efficiently.

Even in all of that, as my husband and I discussed wanting to start a family we were pretty sold on the idea of him staying home with kids and me returning to teaching. We knew without a doubt that we wanted at least one parent to be home raising our kids.

When we had our first child all of that flew out the window. There was no way I was leaving my baby! Ha. I resigned my position but homeschooling still wasn't even on my radar. I had known 2 homeschooling families as a kid and I thought they were weird and fear based. Just being totally honest. I felt like they lived in a world of conspiracy theory and I wanted nothing to do with it.

As I had my second child and they grew, the topic of homeschooling came up and it became something I seriously considered. I struggled with it. Thinking I had a lot of great memories of school. Then wrestled because I have a lot of terrible memories from school as well.

The first question someone will typically ask a homeschooler is "What about socialization?" and so I worried about that angle, wrestled with it but ultimately realized that ALL of my terrible and traumatic experiences in school were social experiences. I also realized that my children weren't in school then and were very social beings!

My son though did struggle with anxiety at times in large groups. I felt like the collective opinion was force him into it, leave him and he'll get over it. We had tried that in several situations and it did so much more harm than it did him good and we dealt with the setbacks for months.

That struggle is not they why of us pursuing homeschooling but it was definitely an added bonus to choose a path that allowed us to nurture and guide him through overcoming that anxiety. I'd say he has made a 170 degree (not quite 180 degree) turn around and is a confident, engaging and fun loving child!

So, what were our why's? We had a few key ones at the beginning but now our list has grown considerably!

1. Solid Foundation - I taught in a school where my first year I had 34 grade 8's in my classroom. I couldn't even walk to the front of the classroom there were so many desks! We felt like it would be a good idea to at least start homeschooling so that they'd have one to one instruction in the foundations of reading, writing, and math. Our initial commitment was till grade 3 (but now we'll go forever).

2. Freedom - I wanted to experience teaching without any hands tied behind my back. I wanted the freedom to encourage a love for learning in my kids. I wanted the freedom to discover their unique learning styles and let them run with that and also to be able to uniquely challenge them where they are not naturally inclined. I wanted that freedom to engage their interests, to learn outside of 4 walls and a desk.

It is not rare for us to feel inspired by something we've read or the weather and to do an about face in our plans and follow adventure. We spend hours paddle boarding/kayaking the river and examining turtles and ecosystems in the summer. In the winter we might be building shelters and surviving in the wilderness while pretending we're in a Gary Paulsen novel. Our days very often get totally rerouted when I see an interest/inquiry sparked in our morning read aloud time.

3. Time - This was a big one! I wasn't done being with my kids during the days or them being with each other. That first 5 years is all the evidence we parents need to back up "the days are long but the years are short" idea. As wild as they are sometimes I LOVE being with them everyday. Honestly, a lot of our time has been spent building characters (in all of us) that can be healthy and enjoyable to be around all day every day. You're forced to work through the head butting and the communication struggles.

We also didn't feel like we could send them somewhere to spend 6 hours a day in a desk if we had the option not to. I knew from my experience how hard it was to manage the spectrum of abilities in a class of 20-30 and often how much "busy", extra work, or reading I handed out for kids who were done very quickly and waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. I knew that if you gave me any kid of any ability, with one to one instruction, schooling would take about half the time as it would in a large class.

Spending less time traditionally "schooling" gives us so much more time to be active, to play and to explore the world around us.

I highly value  as well all the moments that I get to be present for. Seeing them light up in understanding or curiosity. Seeing them catch onto and apply new concepts in math. Hearing them read their first words or listen to the well constructed story they just wrote.

And let's be honest... I LOVE not having to leave the house before 8 am. The other day as I sat enjoying my cup of coffee at 9 am still in sweats, I thought to myself "How did I get so lucky that this is my life?" I've been a die hard night owl forever, rarely going to bed before midnight and so these slow mornings are so much more my speed!

There is so much more to our homeschooling journey but I feel like this is a good synopsis of what got us at the very least started. I love to talk about the home educating life so if you ever have questions please don't hesitate to ask! I'd also love to hear your journey! So message me or leave it in the comments on the blog or on facebook :).

Also... it's not all roses people! If you want to read about how hard homeschooling is, I wrote it about twice HERE and HERE




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