Is home schooling right for us?

When I started down my crunchy parenting path over four years ago, I think several people assumed that when the time came, I would home school my kids. I figured then that I would consider it, but it seemed like ages away and I never really gave it much thought. Well, that time is now rapidly approaching.

At age 3, I started sending Ava to an amazing Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool. It wasn’t a surprise at all to me that she thrived there and, despite the cost, I didn’t hesitate for a second before signing her up for her second year this year. She’s had a great experience there with a wonderful teacher. In fact it’s been so good that I’ve even considered sending her to a Waldorf school for kindergarten through eighth grade. I think if it weren’t for the money involved (think college tuition), she’d be going there in a heartbeat. But since we are not independently wealthy, nor do I feel are we financially-hurting enough to qualify for massive financial aid, that doesn’t seem to be a viable option.

That has lead me to exploring our public school options. There are a few public charter schools in our district, a public International Baccalaureate school, as well as many traditional public schools. Because we live in an area with open enrollment, we could potentially send Ava to any one of those schools come next fall. The question is – which one is right for her?

I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the options (I do better with limited choices) and, while I haven’t actually visited any of the schools in person yet (I have talked with some moms about where they are sending their kids), I haven’t felt peaceful about the whole process.

That leads me to a conversation I had with another mom while at Ava’s friend’s birthday party last weekend. She intends to home school her kids, at least initially. She told me about a local home schooling co-op and gave me the name of a Yahoo! Group of local home school support group. And that’s when it suddenly started to seem (again) like something that could potentially be an option for us.

I’ve kind of been of the mindset lately that I couldn’t handle home schooling. That I wouldn’t be any good at it and that Ava needs to be with other kids all of the time. After all, she is a very social kid. But then I joined the Yahoo! Group and discovered that they meet regularly for play dates and have many activities together and that there are a lot of other ways for home schooled kids to be a part of social activities. The more I read, the more I think this might be right for us, at least on a trial basis. We could try it for kindergarten and if it works well, great! If not, then it’s back to square one and finding the right school.

We have been talking about kindergarten a little bit here and there lately, especially because one of Ava’s friends from preschool last year goes to the “big” Waldorf school now and we just saw her over the weekend at the Harvest Faire. So, in an effort to gauge Ava’s thoughts on the matter, I mentioned to her that I have been thinking about home schooling next year. I asked her if she knew what it meant and who her teacher would be and she did. And she said it was a “great idea.” I actually expected her to be more reluctant, but it’s good to know that she (at least in theory) is on board.

I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately end up deciding. I still want to visit at least a couple of the elementary schools that are  on the top of my list, but I have to admit since I started considering home schooling, I feel so much more peaceful and even a little excited. I know there’s still a lot I need to research, but I’m confident we’ll find our way.

Are there any home schoolers out there that want to share any resources, links to curriculum, etc. with me? Thanks in advance. πŸ™‚

Photo credit: Flickr: brandijordan

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39 thoughts on “Is home schooling right for us?”

  1. I say go for it! I wish that I had started sooner. I wanted to homeschool my boys this year, but my oldest wanted to go to public school again and my DH wasn’t on board. So they are at public school and while I feel “ok” about it, I wish they were home.

    I wish I had started them at home from the beginning. But I thought, “I could never homeschool.”

    Some advice Google these things- charlotte mason, Math U See, Thomas Jefferson Education.

    Then just do it and have fun.

  2. Have you checked out unschooling yet Amy? We love the freedom it allows our children. They are steer the way down their path of learning. Life is learning.

    There are several yahoo homeschool groups that are local too. The women from NICHE in Longmont are very helpful. πŸ™‚ They are VERY active and plan all sorts of social outings and small learning groups.

    Homeschooling, unschooling specifically, has been wonderful for our lives. πŸ™‚ It is rewarding and loads of fun. And one of the best selfish parts is that you will learn more about yourself in the process.

    Check this group out. Ann B is awesome and resourceful. These gals have a wealth of information.

  3. Definitely visit the other schools yourself. No matter what you decide, you will at least have explored all of you options. It can’t hurt to ask what the financial aid cutoffs for the Waldorf school are, either.

    Here in Seoul, the international montessori is $10,000 a year for 3 day a week for toddler preschool! Needless to say, my son won’t be going. A lot of the foreigners here on business or with embassies have their employers pay for school, but my husband’s employer, the US government, but not State department, doesn’t.

    I am going to be in the States for the spring term this year while I have my baby and will send him to Montessori in the States at a cost of $210 per month for 3 day a week. To the people that live in the town, that is not cheap, but to me, it is practically free because of the reverse sticker shock. Seoul is super expensive.

    Good luck with your decision!

  4. As someone who “accidentally” became a homeschooler (bad public school experience), and as someone who only intended, three years ago, to homeschool for a few months, I would say homeschooling is definitely worth trying. Homeschooling has been one of the happiest, unexpected surprises in our life.

    I was a staunch supporter of public schools, having both been educated in them and having many generations of teachers in my family, and I was also of the ilk that I would/could never homeschool. I have discovered that homeschooling is a wonderful educational alternative (maybe even the best, but I am biased), and that homeschooling has given me so much opportunity for my own growth and joy.

    Initially what was so fascinating for me is how many hidden assumptions we have tied to school– socialization, age-specific learning, that children must be encouraged (demanded) to learn, must have structure, etc… What a fascinating journey it has been for me.

    Our entire family has loved the homeschooling lifestyle. We love vacationing in September and February. We are learning Spanish in anticipation for a month trip to Ecuador, my husband has been re-learning world history along with my kids, I have been reading books that I missed as a kid. I love that my children are receiving an education that is perfect for them and respectful to them.

    I love the slow-down lifestyle that we have now, and I love the focus on learning. On a beautiful day, we can go outside and make paper. On a rainy day, we stay inside and read books all day. We can do our activities during the day (such as karate, swim lessons, ballet, guitar) and have our evenings as family time. I am so grateful for this lifestyle as I watch our friends do the after-school rush of homework and activities. It really is a great life, I definitely think you should check it out πŸ™‚

    Oak Meadow (I believe this is a Waldorf Curriculum)

    Mothering forums (check out Learning at Home and Beyond– there is also a subforum of unschooling)

    Books by David H. Albert, John Holt, and David Gutterson (teacher and author of Snow Falling on Cedars)

  5. There is so much research to be done. The approaches vary to the extremes. I’ve done reading on:

    Charlotte Mason Method
    Reggio Emilia
    and many more.

    as well as authors like John Taylor Gatto, and John Holt, and Alfie Kohn (regarding grades/rewards/punishment).

    I get the most from reading books about different theories, but I’m not much further along in actually choosing exactly what method I want to follow. I imagine that is something that will fall in place as I observe how my children react.

  6. I have the same feelings about should I or shouldn’t I. I was homeschooled and most of it was positive but there were aspects to my schooling that I wouldn’t want to repeat with my kids. I do believe I’d be more positive about homeschooling my kids if it were just one, but since I’m going to have three kids it makes it sound even more overwhelming. I really think it won’t be something I decide until the last minute. And you can always put them into school and then pull them out if you decide it just isn’t the place for your child.

  7. I have been considering homeschooling or unschooling for my family, too, so I understand your dilemma. There is a great deal to consider when taking on such an important project.

    I like the suggestions you have been receiving so far from other commenters. I’ll have to check out some of these resources myself.

    Best of luck with your decision!

  8. On another note, what I finally did let go of was homeschooling because that is what I would want. I’m going to look at each child and decide what would be best for each child.

    Some children would simply thrive better in a school setting while others at home. I saw that with my brother and myself. I really loved being homeschooled but believe that my brother would have done better in school.

    I do know some homeschooling families that homeschool one child because of whatever reasons and the others are in school.

  9. I agree you should visit the schools at the top of your list. Because then you’ll know you explored all options and I get the feeling that if you do homeschool and then you change your mind you’ll kick yourself for not doing the school visits.
    If you visit and your heart soars and you love what you see, the decision will be tough.
    If you visit and aren’t all that thrilled, then you will know for sure, for the moment homeschooling is for you.
    I personally love having my kids at home. And they love it too. I love the freedom, the possibilities, all the cool stuff we get to do and all the fun we have. We are more unschoolers than schoolers though and we just love it. Not only that, but my kids are doing fabulously!
    All that said, I know people who can say the same thing about their public schooled children or their private schooled children … and so the only advice I can really tell you is you (and your family) are the only one who can decide for your family. And one year of kindergarten will not make or break your entire child’s future. So if you are on the fence, feel free to pick one side knowing you are open to switching if it isn’t working out =)

  10. Why don’t you see if Ava thrives in your local public school and take it from there?

    Parental involvement and support are the keys to having a successful education at a public school, and it sounds like you’re on that track already! πŸ™‚ If Ava doesn’t fit in well, then you can look to alternatives. Don’t you live in a good school district?

  11. My husband brought up homeschooling when our oldest was not yet a year old. I was persuaded and we’re now in our second year (1st grader and K), though on a bit of maternity leave since I just had baby #5. We LOVE homeschooling, and use a variety of curriculums and approaches. There are so many enrichment opportunities, co-ops, sports teams, and social events – there’s even a yearbook, graduation ceremonies and prom in our area for homeschoolers. The best thing for us was finding other homeschool families for the mentoring, networking and social aspect. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone in the journey! Best wishes, whatever course you find is right for your family.

  12. i have been doing a ton of research as i have the same concerns and questions. though mine is only 7 months old i still am curious. i like to follow blogs of unschoolers to see what their life is like here are a few of my favorites.

    also a great person/authority, in my opinion, on unschooling is Sandra Dodd
    She has unschooled all her kids and they are now almost grown. for me i needed to see the ‘results’ of such a thing. even though i know that every kid is different it was nice to see a case study. she offers tons of great advice and resources on her site.

    there’s also the Growing Naturally Project.

  13. I am on the fence. There is part of me that just wants normal life for my kids. Normal as in going to school and learning about life just like we did. Then there is the other part of me that is fully aware that school is hard, being with your peers is hard and the world is a harsh place compared to when we were kids. But when then are they prepared for life?

  14. Are you considering homeschooling because you think it would be better for her academically or socially? A parent list I belong to recently discussed a similar topic, in which parents were unsure their kindergarten or first grade class was right for their children. The consensus was that academics don’t matter a whole lot until 3rd grade. Until then, if your child is happy and learning to be with other kids, it’s probably fine for the kid. If you are concerned about academic development, a little supplementation after school would probably do it. If you have social issues with the local schools, then perhaps homeschooling would be a better bet.

  15. Good luck with your decision, Amy! I know that I love having my kids home with me all day, and while I do *still* sometimes question it (just as I imagine a PS parent questions their decision on occasion), I don’t think I could ever choose differently.

    It *is* a lifestyle choice, and a big decision. Either way, you can always change your mind and go the other direction.

    I see my friend Ann (hi, Ann! when are you coming up here next?) has recommended unschooling, and I second that! πŸ˜€

  16. Good luck with your decision! My kids aren’t old enough for school yet, and I still work 4 days/week, so we’ll see how things change when hubby gets a new job. I’ve always thought about it, but haven’t ever been sure I could really do it.

  17. Check your options.
    Remember that one of the things taught in regular school is socialization and how to work together with everyone (one of my few complaints with home schooling).

  18. Amy,

    Good luck in making this personal, important choice. I am biased, being an educator in a public school (high school), but I have also met some wonderful kids who were homeschooled until 8th grade.

    Although I don’t have children yet, I am very confident in my town’s public schools. My kids will go to the same school I went to, and many of the same teachers are still there. I had a very positive experience there, and I hope the same will happen for my future children.

    I would encourage you, your husband and Ava to visit all of the schools that are options before making a choice. And even if you decide to go with a more traditional school, there is always learning to be done at home! As I’m sure you know, the kids who succeed usually have strong role models at home who spend quality time with them and read to them. As a teacher, there’s nothing more important to me than a parent who cares about her child.

  19. Hi Amy, I already tweeted at you about this, but thought I’d add more here! We love using, which is a Charlotte Mason methodology. But there are many out there, and you’ll find what works for you.
    For me, it does not come down to the question “What do I care about more, academics or socialization?” After all, the socializing that happens at school is often not positive, and the positive socialization that does happen is easily accomplished in homeschool groups and co-ops.
    We decided on homeschooling, for many reasons. One of our problems with public or private schooling is the age segregation. When in the real world, are we ever among people only of our own age? With homeschooling, we are constantly around people of different ages. When we volunteer, at homeschool co-op, at our Lego group, and at home with our siblings. My kids are just as comfortable around kids their own age as they are around adults.
    Also, I believe that, although academics are important, character is more so. Of course I don’t want “stupid” children, but I DEFINATELY don’t want mean, greedy, self-conscious, rude, add your adjective here kids. I feel like teaching these important life skills and attitudes is too hard to do when you have to fix bad habits learned while they are away.
    Of course, I was a public school kid, who had a crazy family life, and here I am, a decent human being:) This is an important decision, although your child won’t necessarily be “ruined” whichever choice you make:) That was more like a dollar’s worth of advice! Sorry for being longwinded….

  20. We are unschoolers at this point and intend to go this way as long as we’re all happy with it. However if my kids really wanted to go to school we’d be ok with that too. I have friends who send their kids to school, but are open to homeschooling if their kids don’t thrive happily in school, that’s the beauty of this day and age, we can be flexible and change our minds about these things.

  21. As a mom who has been homeschooling for the last five years, I initially began on a trial basis also.

    “I can try it for Kindergarten without screwing my kid up too bad.” πŸ˜›

    I don’t know how long we’ll go – if my kids will go to high school or if we’ll school all the way – I plan on taking it year by year. I do know that it’s HARD, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s completely worth it. You may reach setbacks. My oldest struggled with math last year and didn’t pass the math portion for the 2nd grade exit test at the end of the year. Truth is, she could have done the same thing in public school. On the other hand, this year she has improved in her math by 1000% And I know that is partially because I was here to take the time with her, on an individual basis, working through it with her step-by-step. That is one of the many blessings and benefits of homeschooling.

    I still intend to email you some links. We’ve been sick and I’ve been a little unmotivated. πŸ™

  22. I went to public school until grade. I loved being homeschooled!!!!! I liked Saxon math, other than that I didn’t use text books. I was more unschooled. If that is something you want to hear about send me an e-mail. It would be a VERY long comment. πŸ™‚

  23. Visit the public schools, both charter and regular, before you make a decision. I’ve had many parents tell me they wanted a charter school only to have them unable to answer any questions comparing regular to charter classes/curriculum etc. Make sure you do your research; then you’ll know if homeschooling is really the best choice for your family.

  24. it sounds like you are making a measured and well-considered decision, and whatever you choose will certainly be the best for you and your family. trust yourself and your instincts. i look forward to reading what you decide…

  25. Should be interesting checking out all the options πŸ™‚

    I like the idea of homeschooling but I know I don’t have the confidence or the patience (with my own kids) to try and teach them.

  26. I send my oldest to public elementary school but I supplement with Waldorf and Montessori at home. I taught art in the public schools in my previous life and have found the balance to be perfect for our family.

  27. I have gone back-and-forth on this a million times, but like you never thought the day would actually come. Well, Sam will start kindergarten in August and so the decision is here b/c wher we live, registration starts a good 8 months before the first day of school! I am soooo torn, so I am relying on my faith. Sam will go to a public school in GA (oh, yes, the horror) b/c I have faith in God. If there is anything at all bothersome I am prepared to homeschool, but I think he will really thrive in the “public environment”.

  28. Hi Amy,

    We love homeschooling. I have 3 kids, but I basically homeschool my oldest, who is 7, and we are in our 3rd (WOW) year of it and still going strong. My middle one – the 4-year-old – is doing preschool so to speak right now and my littlest is only 1, but we have one on the way too.

    It can seem chaotic at times and especially at first, but Kindergarten is a great place to start because it is so low-key. I know that there are people in my area who homeschool according to the Waldorf curriculum as well as even run classes out of their home based on that curriculum. I have also heard from friends who homeschooled and raised their kids in Colorado that it is a great state for homeschoolers – very lenient.

    I think you’d love it!

    – Megan

  29. I am looking forward to hearing more about how your decision unfolds. While my daughter is only turning 2 this December, my husband and I are already thinking about homeschooling our children (as the topic of “getting into pre-school” has come up in conversations with other parents). I have a teaching background, so I am really leaning towards homeschooling my children; at the same time, I have the socialization concerns that you express here, although I have discovered that our county has a huge homeschooling community that is quite social. I think that one of the best parts about homeschooling may be the opportunities to explore and learn as interest dictates (like traveling to Rome for a study of ancient history and government).

    Good luck whatever route you go. There certainly are so many good schools to choose from too. =)

  30. Hello!

    I have crunchy tendencies–that’s what got me to your blog.

    Let me give you my two cents worth. I’m a strong advocate for public school. Why? Because isolating your children in any manner is not healthy for them. So, you group together with a homeschooling Coop from time to time–you’re still putting them only with very similar children, with similar backgrounds and views. Put them in a private school and you’re putting them with another “group”.

    My son is a public school kid because I want him to learn more than just the three Rs. I want him to learn about all the different types of people and behaviors that are out there.

    Only when our children are in with the general population, can we know how they’re going to be in the real world. My son has a chance to live his values because they can be challenged in a public school setting. I’m so proud of him for being his own person despite the outside pressure that can exist in a public school.

    I have friends who homeschool, they’re kids are great, a bit socially awkward, but great. I have friends with kids in Waldorf programs, they’re broke and their kids go to school so far from their neighborhood that they know no one here.

    It’s a big decision. You’ll make the right one for you.

  31. Hello!

    I am in Aurora, CO and we have been learning at home since my oldest was born at home in 1996 (I cannot believe she will be 13 this August)! I now have three kiddos (DD12, DS10 and DS6.9). We love being home, and would not want it to be any other way! We use a delight-driven approach (very relaxed).

    For our situation, it has been a God-send. My youngest has classic autism, and my other son is also on the autism spectrum (just not as severe).

    Every few months we sit down and talk about what they would like to do and/or learn about. I write it all down (no matter how silly or overwhelming it may sound), and then my job is to figure out resources for them (we use the library and the computer extensively)! Then, I strew these things (books, DVDs, videos, cable listings, software, etc.) around the house for them to “discover”! It actually is pretty FUN for me to figure out ways to learn about what interests them!

    If they want something that is more “hands-on” (like baking, experiments, arts, crafts, etc.), we usually do it together!

    We are not at the mercy of any artificial schedules that we do not choose.

    There are plenty of homeschool group activities, places to visit (museums, libraries, zoo, field trips, parks, etc.), classes to take, therapies (this is one that we choose), people to visit, volunteer opportunities, religious groups, etc.

    “Socialization” is not something that even crosses my mind. As a matter of fact, I believe that being with all different age groups is much more “natural” in life than being in a group of people all the same age, for several hours a day.

    When, during the rest of one’s life-time, are we expected to be only with one age-group outside of a school setting? It is important to me for my children to be exposed to this type of living, to learn to think independently, and to learn about HOW to learn for the rest of their lives!

    Just my humble opinion as a learn-at-home parent… ;D

    Good luck in your search, and feel free to email me any time!

    Annette in Aurora, CO

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