Growing up, I knew - just as all of you know- that homeschooled kids were weird. I only actually knew one family that was homeschooled, and they weren't weird- but that was definitely an exception to the rule.
Just like all kids that went to public school were totally normal and never awkward, all homeschool kids were strange, unsocialized, overly religious, and did I mention weird?
And I'm not being sarcastic. I believed this to be true.
And yet, somehow- in the five years since I first starting feeling my little boys kick me in the gut, I've slowly and steadily realized something.
I have to homeschool.
I am compelled to homeschool.
When my mom started homeschooling my littlest sister last year, it cemented what I'd always known somewhere- I'm a home school mom, too.
A lot of bloggers and instagramers that I follow also homeschool, and while they may post samples of their schedules or links to their curriculum- they very rarely (if ever) write about their reasons for doing so. I am left to assume, as I usually do, that they homeschool for some bizarre religious reason. And when I tell people that I'm planning and hoping to home school, there's almost always a pregnant pause, and then "... Really? And why on earth would you want to do that?" or "Wow! What a great mom, I couldn't wait to get rid of my kids!"
So I wanted to talk about my reasons for homeschooling, share them with you so that people (including perhaps my own family and husband) can understand why I feel so compelled to have my children at home.
Just to be clear,
It's not for some bizarre religious reason.
It's not because I think the school system has failed.
It's not because I'm a really great mom, because I too feel regularly overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to send the boys to grandma's house for the rest of the week.
The reason, is this: Time is fleeting.
That's silly isn't it? I guess that's not the entire reason, but it's a big part of all the little reasons.
I just don't have enough time.
Let me try to explain:
I often tell people that in college, I studied Children's Literature. This is technically a big fat lie, since what I really studied was English and there's no children's lit emphasis. So I made one. Every optional course I chose was a children's lit course. My film class was a study of children's films, my writing courses were based around writing for young adults, and the american lit class I took was actually called something like American Coming-of-Age Novels.
I know what I love, what I'm passionate about and that, my friends, is children's literature. My budding library downstairs is over half-filled with children's chapter books, books I loved as a child or discovered as an adult. Each time I found another copy of The Secret Garden or Little House on the Prairie tucked between vampire romances at a used book store, I would bring it home and find a safe place on my bookshelf, imagining the day that I would read it to my children. When I finally decided that I loved and wanted to marry Travis, it broke my heart to give up a vision I'd created of my perfect future. That perfect future was this: Sitting inside my cozy home in Minnesota, snuggled up by a bright fireplace with all my dark-haired babies, reading Little Women aloud to them while a blizzard raged outside.
Of course, having given up that idealized vision, I have gained a new and better reality. Now I get to sit, snuggled up in my bed in Utah, with my little white-haired boys listening to me read Peter Pan while the rain patters against the windows.
It is the best and most perfect vision and experience of motherhood. It is everything I could possibly want. And I am not ready to give that up.
I am not ready for them to leave every day at 8:30 to catch the bus, and to trudge home every day at 4. (Those are the actual times that our next door neighbor kids leave and arrive home each day.)
I can't do it. I love them too much. I want them too much.
If my children are gone from me from breakfast to dinner, when do we get to snuggle and read Charlotte's Web? When do I get to teach them to love Aslan and fear Voldemort? When do we read and discuss the scriptures as a family? These books are important to me. They are significantly more important to me than anything that they will learn at school. Yep. I said it.
Okay, now my husband and Alissa are both panicking that I am going to read books to my kids all day instead of teaching them about the imports and exports of Botswana and the names of the different chambers in one's heart. Before I continue, let me say this: I promise to teach my kids all the things they would learn in school.
BUT, I am not just afraid of giving up reading together. I'm afraid of giving up family trips to Kenya when Travis has a month-long job there. I'm afraid of giving up piano lessons to homework. I'm afraid of giving up the chance to teach my children right and wrong when they make mistakes throughout the day.
I'm afraid of giving up hikes to the canyon on early fall mornings, and of imaginative play on snowy afternoons. I'm afraid of letting my child learn about bullying and sex from their peers like I did.
I'm afraid of letting someone else teach my child the right way to apologize, work hard, sit still, treat their friends and show respect.
I know that I could teach them these things on the evenings and weekends, and I know many families successfully do. Please, please don't think that I believe I am a more dedicated parent than anyone who sends their child to school. I am not. I am normal and flawed and my kids drive me insane on the regular. I am not choosing to keep my kids home because I think I will do better job teaching than someone who went to college for teaching.
I am keeping my kids home because there are only a few short years when they are small, and I don't want to miss it. I want to fill up these years with watercolor paintings, and collecting eggs from the henhouse, with snuggling, and caped crusaders. With chores, and gardens, with making homemade jam and then eating it on everything. With reading together and browsing the library, with snowmen and homemade popsicles, and spontaneous trips to the seaside.
And if the only way that I can have those things is to homeschool? Then my children will be schooled at home, thank you very much.
Time is fleeting and so, I am compelled to homeschool.
Because I am new to this and because I am slowly preparing to start school - I am going to post semi-regularly (for a while) about homeschooling things and I hope you'll bear with me.
Next up (I think): types of homeschool curriculum and my plans for teaching my kids all the things.