Last year, my daughter Addy turned five. Leading up to that, my wife and I debated and prayed about what to do for her schooling. Despite Chicago Public Schools being famously bad in general, Jen and I both went to public schools and survived. So, we applied to a couple of the better elementary schools and didn’t get her in.
We then made appointments to visit the two schools in our neighborhood but weren’t impressed with either of them. We’d thought about private school, as well, but the cost is prohibitive and would pretty much impossible once we had two kids enrolled. So, we started researching homeschooling—well, Jen did the bulk of this and I’m grateful to her—and quickly warmed to the idea.
Since last fall, we’ve been holding school in our dining room. Jen teaches most days, but since I was laid off I’ve been able to teach a day or two each week, as well. It has been great! Here’s what I/we like about it:
Homeschooling is efficient. With one-on-one attention, you’re not dragging out school into an all day affair simply because those are the hours the school’s open. Home school lasts long enough to cover the material each day and allow for one or two of Daddy’s nutty tangents, and then it’s over. No wasting time.
Speaking of tangents, homeschooling allows for spontaneity and creativity. If we want to take a field trip related to something we’re studying, we can. If we want to act out a story we just read, do a spontaneous craft or look up supplemental videos about what we’re learning online, we can. I love having the freedom to flesh things out on the spot and make dull things more interesting when I see the kids' eyes glazing over.
Homeschooling is flexible. We’ve been going with a 4-day week, generally, but some weeks it may be 3, other weeks it may be 5. We do school in the morning but we don’t have to. We can have yearround school, or we can take breaks as we see fit.
Homeschooling gives my daughter (and my son--he sits in) a better education that she'd get in a public school for considerally less cost than a private school. She's learning things in kindergarten that I didn't learn until 3rd grade. For me, kindergarten was about counting, the alphabet, naps and crafts. She's doing science experiments, hearing poems and full-length books (The Boxcar Children, The Wizard of Oz, etc.), studying history, learning addition, etc. She also participates in social activities through the church and other groups and is taking dance classes.
Lastly, I know that my kids are getting truth and not whatever nonsense is in mental fashion. We're able to integrate our faith into the teaching and, though we're not wrestling with too much controversy yet, we will be able to address all sides of an issue and not simply the "approved" perspective.
Homeschooling isn't for everyone. It requires patience and a desire to push through the tough days. It takes time, energy and creativity. Some circumstances simply don't make it workable. But if you're curious about it all, I encourage you to look into it and talk to those who are doing it.