My husband and I have a range of schooling backgrounds, which includes a private school, homeschool, and public school. I enjoyed several years as a middle school social studies teacher in the public schools before becoming a mom. I really missed my job when I left! I had every intention of teaching again someday.
When my oldest was approaching kindergarten age (and he had three little brothers behind him), I was really hoping to find a small Christian school for him to attend. As the start of the school year came closer, reality hit me and I knew the choice was between homeschool and public school. We knew several families at church that homeschooled, and their teenagers were polite and able to converse with adults. They were a great encouragement to us.
I also knew there were things that I wanted to be able to teach him and that if he was in school all day, my brood of four boys just wouldn’t be the same. So, with a newborn and two toddlers in tow, we started to homeschool kindergarten. In reality, it only took an hour or two a day, so we still had plenty of time to play and live life.
Now, my oldest is in high school, and except for a two-year stint in a local Christian school, we have homeschooled the whole way through.
Homeschooling has benefited our family in three big ways.
My husband is a full-time pastor, which means that he is on call all the time. He may need to leave the house unexpectedly for a hospital visit. He also takes Monday as his day off. If my kids were in school, they wouldn’t see dad as much. We can also adjust our schedule to do family activities in the off-season.
One of my sons was slower in gaining confidence and ability in reading. He really needed the one-on-one instruction that homeschool gives. Traditional schools just can’t meet those needs. I remember having 25 or more students in my middle school classrooms and working extremely hard to keep them all engaged. I could have a great lesson planned, but some kids really needed that individual instruction that is impossible in that setting. My children have benefited from the tutoring structure of homeschool. We don’t have to belabor skills that they can learn quickly. But, we also have the freedom to slow down on the topics that need more work.
When our youngest son had just turned one, we knew our family was called to adopt. We didn’t know who it would be, or when it would happen, but we knew we had room in our family for at least one more. It would take six years, but when we finally adopted our daughter internationally as a toddler, it was such a blessing for all her brothers to be homeschooling so we could bond as a family. If they had been off at school all day, this special bonding would have been harder to accomplish. Do we ever drive each other crazy? Of course! But the positives outweigh the negatives.
I believe that parents are uniquely qualified to teach their kids. I have a teaching degree, but I know that it is not necessary to do a great job with homeschooling. In fact, by parenting and teaching my own kids, I know much more about how kids learn than when I was a new 22-year-old teacher fresh out of college, but without kids of my own! Parents take heart, you’re doing a great job!
*** Abby Banks is a homeschooling mom of four boys and one princess. She lives with her husband and kids in Lake Ariel, PA. She blogs at www.4onemore.com and you can find her on Facebook at 4onemore. She is a homeschool evaluator in Pennsylvania, and you can find that page on Facebook at PA Homeschool Evaluations by Abby.