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To a certain extent, I believe all parents are homeschoolers because parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. Even parents who send their kids to traditional schools are still responsible for teaching their kids so many things, including manners, social skills, ethics, emotional regulation, and much more.
We have a been a homeschooling family ever since we adopted our first child. My son was 18 months when he joined our family in 2010, and my daughter was 32 months when she joined our family in 2012. Both of my kids had many developmental delays when they joined our family, and I took it upon myself to provide them with the most enriching environment I could in order to support their healthy development. I used to call this our “homeschool preschool.”
Although I was in grad school part time when we adopted our children, the hours I was not doing schoolwork were spent engaging them in developmentally appropriate learning experiences. We did process oriented art projects, we engaged in sensory play, we listened to music and danced together, we worked on fine motor skills, we worked on language development, and so much more. (I’m pleased to say that both my kids have made tremendous progress and neither of them would be considered “delayed” anymore.)
In 2013 I finished my Ph.D., but I did not look for a job at the time. Instead, my husband and I spent a lot of time that year looking at schooling options in our community, including the local public school, magnet schools within our district, and several private schools. We also considered homeschooling.
Eventually, after much reflection, we opted to give homeschooling a try when my kids entered school in the fall of 2014.
There was no one reason why we opted for homeschooling. Instead, it was the confluence of a number of factors that lead us to decide that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. In this post I’m sharing the top four reasons that initially led us to give homeschooling a try when we made the decision two years ago.
#1: I thought I would enjoy it.
Probably the biggest reason why I began homeschooling – and why I continue homeschooling today – is that I thought I would enjoy it.
I’ve always liked working with kids, and my professional career was in the educational space. I loved creating curriculum when I was doing educational work professionally, and I looked forward to the opportunity to put together curriculum to use with my kids.
I also enjoy my kids and wanted the opportunity to spend more quality time with them. I wanted to create a family that learns and grows and thrives together, and I thought homeschooling would give us the best opportunity to do that.
#2: I didn’t feel there was any one school that was well suited to meet the educational needs of both of my kids, who had very different learning needs.
My son is extremely bright and he notices everything around him. He is the kind of kid who only has to hear something once to learn it. He has a memory like a steel trap. I was afraid he would be bored in a regular classroom where things would move at a slower pace than he would prefer. And if that happened, I was afraid of what it would do for his motivation and his behavior. I felt that homeschooling would allow him to go at a pace that would keep him engaged.
My daughter, at the time, was still really struggling with some brain integration issues that we now know stem from the neglect she experienced before we adopted her as well as from the tremendous load of heavy metals she carries in her body (and that was are working very hard to detox). Thankfully her learning ability is much improved now, but at the time she had a lot of learning challenges that I knew would put her behind from day one in a traditional classroom. I was afraid she would be negatively labeled for things beyond her control, and that this would affect her self-esteem. I felt she would do much better with one-on-one interaction with me where I could very closely monitor her learning and adapt my teaching to her needs.
#3: I wasn’t convinced that school would be the appropriate place for my kids to get their emotional needs met.
My kids have unique emotional needs that stem, in part, from the fact that they were both adopted as toddlers. Their early experiences and the multiple losses they have experienced have shaped the way they interact with my husband and myself. At the time we were making initial decisions about schooling, my kids both needed the security of being at home more than would have been possible if they attended a traditional school for 30 hours a week.
#4: We wanted the freedom to travel on our own schedule rather than the school’s schedule.
My husband is very fortunate to enjoy a six-week sabbatical from work every five years. That sabbatical coincided with my kids’ first year in school. Our family wanted to take advantage of my husband’s long break to enjoy a four-week RV trip across several states. Choosing homeschooling allowed us to take the trip during the spring when the prices were lower, the temperatures were cooler, and the crowds were smaller. (We had a blast on our RV trip, by the way, which you can read a bit about in this post.)
Homeschooling has also given us the opportunity to take a number of other shorter trips to visit friends, family, and fun new spots where our family could have fun and learn together.
While we may not engage in a lot of traditional school-like learning when we are on vacation, the trips we have taken have provided some of the richest educational opportunities for our entire family – kids and grownups alike!
More homeschooling resources
More homeschooling posts from Gift of Curiosity: