I recently walked into my son's school with the intent to withdraw him from attending. Elvis (my husband), Ariel, Eliel, and my big ole pregnant self walked in hand in hand; all on the same page that this was the right decision for our family. So many emotions ran through my veins: excitement, peace, exhilaration, fear, all topped off with a bit of anxiety.
It all happened so fast! Within 5 minutes of walking in and signing a couple of papers, Eliel went from 1st-grader-at-this-school to an official homeschooler.
Allow me to backtrack a bit to illustrate what led to this very dramatic feeling decision:
Not too long ago from today, I picked up my son, Eliel, from school, eager to hear all about his day.
"Soooo...how was your day?!" I asked with a big smile on my face.
Hesitating, he looked off in the distance and said his day was "okay...". This is not like my son. Every day while he was in Kindergarten, he'd respond with a big smile beaming, "Great, mommy!!" My mom-tuition (mother's inner knowing), kicked in high gear. I decided to pull over and investigate the changes I was seeing in my sweet boy.
After a few long discussions over the next few weeks, I realized Eliel wasn't as happy as I hoped he was in the first grade. In kindergarten, he loved school. He loved the pace. And his teachers loved him. And why wouldn't they? He is a natural lover-of-learning, well-behaved, and kind. And every time I asked Eliel if he wanted to go back to homeschooling (we homeschooled him for preschool), he quickly shrugged off the idea. "I'm good, mommy--I like school!" he'd say. I was both proud of his independence, but my heart had to admit: I missed being the one to spend the whole day with my boy!
But something shifted in the first grade. There was more pressure. More tests. More tech time and less time for exploring. More structure; less time for imaginative play. In short, there was more stress. And he's only 6! I began to fear my son was losing out on what I believe the beauty of childhood should entail --and I realized I needed to help restore and keep the wonder of his childhood.
And soon, my son was asking me if he could go back to homeschooling. He said he wanted more attention so he could understand his lessons more clearly. He said he wanted to be home when his little brother was born to help out and enjoy the family. He said he liked when I taught him; that he had more fun. When he started talking like this, I knew it was time for me to seriously think about homeschooling him.
I gathered my thoughts. Wrote them down, prayed. Did my research on Texas homeschooling laws. Studied the various homeschooling methods. Talked to my husband. (Thank God we are on the same page).
But then, the crazy-making thoughts began: can I really do this? I'm about to have another baby! Am I patient enough? How's this going to affect my business as an entrepreneur? Will he be missing out by not fitting in to the status quo's idea of education? Ugh. I was exhausted just thinking about these things.
And my husband, Elvis, asked me what I dreaded hearing: "How are you going to have time to work on your business (Moms Wear Heels) and do all this, especially with a new baby on the way?" I appreciated the hard question, but I had not given it adequate attention. My focus had been on what I felt my son needed and why. My husband's inquiry felt intrusive, but necessary. Realizing I had to face this too though, I thought long and hard about what I'd be giving up for the ability to homeschool my son. For one thing, I'd definitely work less, which meant taking on less clients, and perhaps less time for creative endeavors. I can handle that, I decided. Overall I realized that slowing down and doing less was perfect for the season I was in. Sure, I could work more and make more money, but which option left my 90 year old self feeling the most happy and peaceful? Being more ambitious with career pursuits or being the mom I feel called to be?
Eventually (not too much later than that initial day I picked him up from school), I decided that I was going to follow my heart. I was going to be the primary role model in my child's life, teaching him not just what the state requires, but what I, his mama, whom God entrusted to care for him, deem worthy of learning. I decided that regardless of my fears, I was going to homeschool my son. I decided that with discipline, I could have him home learning and still live my passion as an entrepreneur (just not with as many hours!) Upon reaching this conclusion, I wrote down my "whys" and reasons for going this direction for further clarification. Here are the most important reasons we are deciding to homeschool:
Why We've Decided to Homeschool:
1. Individualized Curriculum
In Texas, you must teach grammar, spelling, reading, math, and good citizenship, but you can do it with any approach you like--in other words, you can do it with your own style. I will be teaching Eliel based off his own temperament and learning style. He won't be forced on to the other kid's timetables. Every child shines in different areas. Expecting all our children to learn various subjects at the same pace can induce stress and lead to anxiety. When I can tell his brain's had enough, we are going to take a break or change gears--not continue to over stuff his brain. When I see his attention veering off, I'll work to make the lesson more engaging and fun. I see my job as making our lesson plans as creatively as possible. I can teach him good citizenship, for example, by creating opportunities for us to volunteer, donate items we don't need, and even engage in simple things like holding the door for others while we're out and about. To me, learning in life is never solely relegated to a classroom. I believe life is class.
Every family is unique. And our schedules are too. We are organizing our homeschooling schedule to fit our needs; not society's. My husband, Elvis, has crazy work hours sometimes. And when he finally gets a full day off and it's on a school day, my heart hurts that he misses out on spending that time with Eliel the majority of the day. Secondly, as I mentioned above, we have a new member to the family coming soon :). Eliel has already voiced his desire to be here when Rafael gets here--and I don't blame him! Those will be magical times indeed. Also, we deep down are adventure-seekers and travelers! The flexibility homeschooling offers will create opportunities to not just learn about the world, but to see, explore, and engage with it. And of course, our lesson plans will acclimate to wherever we are so Eliel still learns on schedule.
I have to admit, there are times when I hear other kids in peer groups at school and my heart breaks--whether I see a bullying incident or someone just being downright mean. I believe life skills and training starts at home. And while we may strive to instill the best values and behaviors into our own children, sometimes the biggest, loudest kid influences others in class the most. Why? Because the need to feel approved of and accepted in school feels like it's more important than anything else(--like learning!)--and the need for peer acceptance can become incredibly distracting to what really matters. Of course, you can provide your children with safety if they do not homeschool as well--(prayer helps with that!) And I am fully aware I cannot keep my kids in a bubble forever--and I am very intentional about raising resilient children, but I am balancing that desire with also protecting their freedom, their childhood, their innocence as long as I can.
Kids spend on average 1,300 hours per year in school. (And I probably spend about 100 hours a school year in the carpool line). Before I know it, my kids will be all grown up, living their own lives, and leading their own families. I've spoken to enough older, wiser parents who often urge me to enjoy these days while they're at home. "It goes by so fast and you'll miss it more than you can imagine!" They say. And I believe them. I have a calling to homeschool my kids. At least for now. It's what I'm being guided to do for my children in this season.
I know it's not going to be easy teaching my 1st grader, and soon to be preschooler while breastfeeding a newborn and working from home, but I believe that if God gives us an assignment, He'll also give us the strength to accomplish that job. I'm choosing faith over fear.
There ya go, mamas! Here are a few of my 'whys' for homeschooling. And disclaimer--I am not here to tell anyone that homeschooling is the best method for educating your children--we each have a duty to do what is uniquely best for our own families, and at the right time.
There is so much more I can say on this subject. And I will...in due time. Motherhood is my passion. I'll be sharing my process of how I'm going to continue my journey of becoming my best self, wife, and entrepreneur as a mom while homeschooling here and on social media.
If you homeschool or are thinking about it, please let me know on this Instagram post! Let me know if you want to see posts of our homeschooling journey. :)
**Update: I created this website, littlebearhomeschool.com to chronicle our homeschooling adventures! Head over and subscribe.
And if you're interesting in working with me one on one with your business, mom, or fitness goals--or if you have questions about homeschool pertaining to your situation--I have a few spots for coaching available this month!
Love you ladies!
Until the next post,