Friday, May 11, 2012

Leaping into Homeschooling

My husband and I suddenly made the decision to homeschool our two sons in January of 2011, when they were halfway through 4th and 1st grades.  This hadn't been our plan for educating them, nor had we discussed the idea in any great detail in the months prior. In fact, we had just moved to Oregon from another state and specifically chose our new community because its school district was (and still is) so highly rated.  After six months, however, it became agonizingly clear that even in one of the best school districts with the best teachers, public education was not working for either of the boys.

Prior to leaping off this cliff, we had casually discussed the idea of homeschooling, but primarily in the context of "Wouldn't it be great to take a year off and travel around the world?"  So, the idea wasn't a completely new one and it was something I had looked into, but for me it still felt like one of those dreams where you find yourself walking into a testing hall, and then panic when you realize you haven't attended a single class or studied at all for the exam. The sense of responsibility I felt was instant and overwhelming, and the only reason I continued forward is because I knew, in a way that I only rarely know things (deep down in my gut), that this was the right choice.

My first day "on the job" I immediately began researching curricular options, materials, local support groups -- anything I could find that would help assure me that I could do this. What I discovered in those early days of research, and subsequent weeks of talking to family and friends about our choice, was not anything close to what I expected.  It turns out that over 2 million kids in the United States are homeschooled, and not just kids in families with strong religious views, or with learning or behavioral issues -- many families who just decided that their kids would be better off learning at home.  And I was especially surprised by how many friends and relatives said they wished they could homeschool, too! Wow!  Different reasons prevent them from making this choice, and it is certainly a very personal choice that is not right for everyone, so I was truly encouraged by their support.

Now, as we approach the end of our first full academic year at home, I can only say that this is the best decision I've ever made, and my family and I are more committed than ever to this path.  This doesn't mean, however, that I don't worry sometimes (okay, fairly regularly) about whether my kids will be seen as "weird" as they move out into the world, and whether I'm doing enough to prepare them academically and socially.  Which is why I am continuously looking for information about homeschooling ideas and resources and, yes, statistics, to calm my fears and validate our choice.  My reassurance this week comes from the "College@Home" site which is predicting that Homeschooling is the Future.   I love being on the leading edge of a trend!

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