If you had asked me five years ago what I thought about homeschooling, I would have said it was for kids who were sheltered, different, or couldn’t make it in the real world. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Funny thing is my husband and his four siblings were homeschooled. But no matter what my mother-in-law said about the benefits, I was not buying it. I didn’t care that my brother-in-law graduated high school at 14 and was successful in college. Nor could I ever see myself being a stay-at-home mom and schooling my kids full time. Now, my Southern friends may be a bit surprised, but at the time I was a Northern city girl. And living in the Bronx, you didn’t come across many homeschooling families. (If you can relate, read 10 Homeschooling Myths Debunked.)
Why I said no to homeschooling
For some reason, I felt qualified enough to teach 32 students in my class, including many with special needs, but was not up to the task of teaching my own child. I guess I didn’t see my child as needing anything more than his public school education afforded. He was a straight-A student with pretty good social skills. Yes, he was a bit hyper; but he was blessed with great teachers who understood and kept him busy. Even when he started having anxiety in 3rd grade over having to take the state tests, I didn’t see any alternative. I reassured him he would not forget everything he learned all year and get held back like he feared. As a third grade teacher, I knew all too well the stress and anxiety students faced but just saw it as another learning experience for them.
So what changed, you ask?
God had been planting seeds and sending people to water it for some time but it wasn’t until my second year living in Florida that something clicked. I was feeling drained upon completion of my first year as a third-grade teacher in Florida. I had always worked hard at everything I did so the teaching part was easy (especially compared to NYC). Still, I saw so many needs in my students that I just could not meet. So much was invested in them that I had nothing left for my own family each night.
MEET & Mentor Learning Center
I was pregnant with my third child and knew I could not return to work. I found out that a woman, and now dear friend, who used to attend my church, ran an enrichment program for homeschooling children. Her teaching philosophy and mission statement matched mine perfectly. I was excited about the freedom and flexibility I would have in teaching academic, as well as, social-emotional skills. During that time, I got to meet some amazing young artists, designers, creators, and entrepreneurs. These brilliant souls were not all typical honors students; in fact, some had been labeled and restricted in public school. But when given the chance to foster a love of learning, they soared higher than imagined.
During that time, I was also finishing up a Master’s Degree in Christian Studies with a specialization in Youth Ministry. My courses helped me to reflect on my own upbringing and teenage years and made me yearn for something more for my children. I wanted them to love learning, not just perform to meet my expectations. I wanted them to experience the adventures and richness of traveling while they learned about new places. And most importantly, I needed them to know that they were, and would always be, second to no one but God, in my life.
How I did the thing…
As the first semester of sixth grade came to an end for my oldest son, I mentioned the idea of homeschooling his younger siblings. To my surprise, he expressed an interest and we agreed to try it out for the second semester of the year. I enrolled him in the homeschooling program where I worked and he loved it. We later found out that he could dual enroll at a local college by passing the PERT exams. He was up to the challenge and passed the entrance exams. He attended his first two classes on campus and earned a 4.0 GPA.
May His will be done…
As he continued his studies both on campus and online, I went back to teaching in the public school system as a middle school math teacher of exceptional students. I loved every second of it and was privileged to work with amazing teachers whose passion for teaching and love for their students was unrivaled. I was also honored to receive the ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year Award for my county. Still, I heard the sweet whispers of my Heavenly Father and I knew what I had to do: trust him to provide as I focused on my family full time. So this summer, I have embarked upon a new adventure: one that will allow me the opportunity to walk with my own children in their learning journey. I hope you will join me as I share what I learn and encourage other mamas on their journeys.
If you are on this journey or considering it, here are 8 Simple Tips for Homeschooling.