We have only been “officially” homeschooling for a few weeks now and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been asked, “Why would you want do that?” So I thought for my official first post back, after a fairly lengthy hiatus (at least for the blogging world) that answering why would be a good place to start.
There isn’t a simple answer
Honestly, the answer to that isn’t nearly as simple as those who have asked me would like it to be. They want me to give an obvious answer…there aren’t any good local schools, we don’t believe in common core, we want to be free to teach about our faith, we believe there is too much bullying in schools… the list goes on and on. In some ways these reasons are true, and yet, not really.
Confused yet? Now you know how we felt.
We are actually lucky enough to live in an area where there are many wonderful options for school. Schools filled with teachers willing to give everything they have, and more, to educate their students. But to be fair, after being a teacher for over 15 years I know that the demands placed on teachers- by principals, parents, lawmakers, and in some cases the students themselves-make it nearly impossible for them to offer the best to every single one of their students.
Often it is the parents who complain the most, the students who are the farthest behind, or those that demand the most attention, that get it. Well, the problem with this is that my children don’t fall into any of those categories. We are blessed in that our children are (so far…) average.
They have never gotten into trouble at school. They have never required anything “extra” of their teachers and neither have we, as parents, ever had anything to complain about. While this makes for a great student in the classroom, as a parent I worry that my children’s needs will be passed over for those who are more demanding or in need of, the teacher’s immensely valuable time and talent.
Why we chose to homeschool
Having an opinion about Common Core seems to be all the rage now. People who have not had a seconds training in education, short of being a student themselves, seem to suddenly be experts on the merits or drawbacks to what merely amounts to a set of goals for learning developed mostly by legislators to align learning across the United States. Yes, I know that is a bit over simplified in explanation, but that it what it amounts to. The problem is that while there is a clear movement to common learning goals, there is a greater discrepancy now more than ever on how to attain those goals.
Some students still learn best with rote memorization, some by conceptual understanding, and others develop their own rogue ways of learning. The point is, there is a middle ground in everything and while I see the merits of Common Core as well as the drawbacks, as a parent I want the right to choose which learning works best for my children to help them become productive members of society.
I don’t want their learning to be at the whim of the “next greatest movement” in education-legislators who use buzz words for campaigns, garner support and pass their next bill.
My husband and I were both blessed with sound, faith-filled, Catholic educations. As parents, that is what we also wish for our children. We want them to learn about the love of God, the power of faith, and that there really is right and wrong in the world. The problem with this for us, like many families, is that Catholic education is expensive-especially if you have multiple children in school.
Just do the math
Once upon a time, the children of teachers could go to school where their parent taught, in many cases tuition free or deeply discounted. It was one of the perks meant to draw quality teachers to Catholic schools, despite the nearly$10,000 difference in pay from public school teachers. Now, that is not the case and the pay for Catholic school teachers has never risen to match that of public schools. So, if you wanted to bring your own children with you to school, you will pay, on the average, over $5,000 a year per child. Couple that with less pay than my public school counterparts, it makes bringing your children to school with you a significant financial hardship.
Once my husband and I did the math, after putting all of our children into school and paying the extra expenses, I would work full time, educating nearly 125 students a year, to make a scant several hundred dollars a month and have someone else teach my children. We just couldn’t justify that. Being free to practice our faith daily coupled with the expense of private schools were major factors in our decision.
Will we homeschool forever?
I often get asked if I’m going to do this for the next 12 years. Actually, I’m really surprised how often I’ve gotten this question. If there is one thing being a mom has taught me it’s to be flexible. Do what works for as long as it works. I have no idea how long we will homeschool or if it will be the right choice for all my kiddos.
But for now, it has been a wonderful choice for my family and I feel blessed every single day that I get to watch my children continue to grow, learn, and develop. To be fair, this really is just the tip of the iceberg in our decision make process and doesn’t even being to touch on all the thought we put into this decision, but it is a great place to start. More on that later, I promise.
Here are some pics from our very first official homeschool day
See ya next Sunday,