As parents we are tasked over the years with making hundreds of decisions about the future of our children. In most cases, we want what is best for our children and their well being. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are bombarded with opinions and advice everywhere we turn. Just a simple search online can turn up hundreds of articles in favor of or opposing a single decision you are trying to make.
Breastfeed or formula feed?
Co-sleep or sleep in their own bed?
Vaccinate or not vaccinate?
Circumcise or not circumcise?
Baby wearing? Pacifier? Baby-led weaning?
The list goes on and on!
When it came time to make a decision about whether or not to homeschool my children, it would be a lie to say I wasn’t overwhelmed. My desire has always been to offer them the best education possible while still allowing them to have a wonderful childhood filled with freedom and good experiences. I scoured the internet looking for information from other parents who also struggled with this decision.
I came from a homeschooling family and was homeschooled for most of elementary school, as were my three siblings. Hannah, my sister and co-owner of These Lovely Acres, has chosen to homeschool her children who are of similar ages to mine. I realized this wasn’t a decision the internet could make for me, or my mom or my sister- It was a decision that my husband and I had to make for our own family.
Last summer, I ended up choosing to homeschool my children for the upcoming school year. I would like to tell you it was because I felt an overwhelming passion for teaching my children at home. In all reality, I was going through the difficult process of recovering from a long season of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks cause by the two traumatic births of my children and did not feel equipped to make a decision about their education. My husband and I decided that we would keep the children home for another year so that we would have more time to think about what we wanted our family life to look like.
Over the course of the school year, I learned so much about myself and my children. I learned that I am capable of educating my children. I am not a “teacher” by nature and it doesn’t come easily to me, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was absolutely able to teach my children (you can’t mess up kindergarten math too bad, right?). Being able to observe the way each of my children liked to learn,what subjects came easily to them and what came as more of a challenge, was a huge benefit.
Conversely, I also learned that I have limitations. While I learned I CAN teach my children, it is very challenging for me and requires a lot of effort and, quite honestly, at times it can be stressful. As moms we put so much pressure on ourselves to “do it all”. Balancing life as a part-time social worker and full-time mom is challenging and I felt very torn about adding the title of “teacher” onto my plate.
At the end of the school year, my husband and I decided that we would be sending our children to public school. This was not an easy decision or one that we made lightly. Hours were spent talking about the pros and cons of homeschool vs public school and what that looked like for our family. For me, letting go of the role of “teacher” was a huge relief!
I can not stress enough the importance of making the best decision for YOUR family. You know your children better than anyone else. Take into consideration every member of the family (including yourself) and ask yourself realistic questions about what homeschooling and public school would look like. Being honest about your strengths and limitations will help to make a solid decision for your family. Homeschooling may work for a few years, and then not and that’s okay! The same goes for public school.
The following are some of the benefits and shortcomings to both homeschool and public school.
- time efficient learning due to one on one teaching
- flexibility with schedule (able to sleep in, travel, etc.)
- freedom with curriculum
- more family togetherness
- individualized education for each child
- less bullying/ social pressure
- increased cost compared to public school
- time investment, possible loss of income for one parent
- simultaneously managing different educational needs of older children and younger children
- less interaction with other children their age unless in a homeschool community or group
- juggling role as teacher in addition to mother, employee, etc.
- interaction with other children their age on a daily basis
- low cost
- structured days
- encourages independence
- more intentional about quality time as a parent with children after school and on weekends
- allows both parents to work if need be
- somewhere to be every day
- less control over curriculum
- exposure to bullying and social pressure
- less time for free play
- ability to travel is limited to breaks during the school year
The beautiful thing about parenting is that many of the decisions we face are not black and white issues- many fall into the “gray” area. What works for some may not work for others. It doesn’t mean I am right and you are wrong. What this means is that we may have two differing opinions on how to raise our children, but that doesn’t have to change how we view or treat each other.
Standing in judgement of other parents only hurts you and your children. This was a lesson I had to learn, and many of us do, when becoming a new parent. When we view others through the lens of understanding and grace, we open ourselves up to friendship and also the ability to view life from a different perspective.