This guest post is part of the Why We Homeschool series. This series is intended to encourage those interested in homeschooling as well as those already knee-deep in it. It is NOT designed to tear down any other schooling choices. Today I’m excited to welcome Mandi from Messy Wife, Blessed Life to talk about her homeschool adventure!
Mandi and David have been married just over three years and have a 21 month old daughter, Lucia. David has his PhD in biomedical engineering and teaches science at a Catholic prep school. Mandi stays at home with Lulu and writes about the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood at Messy Wife, Blessed Life. With David’s math and science background and Mandi’s Spanish and history degrees, they look forward to a divide and conquer approach to homeschooling to pass on their passions to their little one(s).
My daughter just turned 21 months, so why are we already thinking about school? Coming from an education background (I have a teaching license and spent last year as a K-8 Spanish teacher), you might say education is always at the back of my mind; but also, I’m not at all alone in this. Lucia will be old enough for most preschool programs next year and, turning two in December, could probably start mid-year in some. Many parents with children Lucia’s age already have them on waiting lists or pre-registered for preschool. Kindergarten starts at 5, but I don’t know any families who didn’t put their children in preschool before then. I have to make concrete decisions about my child’s education soon.
This slow creep of formal education for younger and younger children is not only prompting us to make plans for our child’s education, but is also one of the main reasons for the decision we’ve made: homeschooling. My mom fondly remembers the play kitchen in her kindergarten classroom. When it was my turn for kindergarten, not only did my room not have a play kitchen, play was reserved for a few short recess periods. In the industrialized world, most children start school at age six compared to age three or four in the US. These are the same countries that consistently outscore us in math, science, and reading tests.
I’m in no hurry to rush Lucia into school and I feel the only option that leaves me with is to homeschool in the early elementary years. If I were to start her in school at age six, she would be going into first grade “behind” her peers who had been part of the education system since preschool. Just like her international counterparts who will swiftly catch up to American students despite their “late” start, I imagine she would be able to enter a private/public school at the third grade level, however, that is not our only reason for homeschooling.
Homeschooling appeals to me because I will be able to give my child an individualized education by using my intimate knowledge of her strengths, weaknesses, interests and learning style to adjust the curriculum and pace. If Lucia shows interest in a certain topic, we can spend more time on it. If she excels in a certain area, we can breeze through grade level work and go on to more complex, challenging concepts. In addition, if there are particular struggles at home, such as a new sibling or a death in the family, our schooling can reflect that too. We can lighten the schoolwork or shift topics to discuss what we are experiencing, for example incorporating books and writing assignments that deal with loss.
Another aspect of homeschooling that I look forward to is the integration of school with home life. Instead of there being different expectations at school and at home, there can be consistency enforced through every area of our child’s life. I’m not speaking specifically of religious values, but ideas of responsibility, courtesy, perseverance, etc. By putting the same emphasis on completing chores as on completing schoolwork as following through on their word, and having the same consequences for each, Lucia will learn a well-rounded idea of responsibility as it related to all areas of life.
Also appealing to me was the idea that I’ll be there for my child’s best hours. We’ll get to spend the daytime hours, when she is most alert and engaged (and happy), learning and playing together. We can go on field trips and schedule activities while she is at her best, instead of the late afternoon and evening hours with tiredness setting in and the stresses of making dinner and completing homework. If we have more children, those daytime hours will be invaluable for sibling bonding. Early morning can be spent sleeping in, or cuddling while watching a morning cartoon together, instead of the get-out-the-door rush. Evenings can be spent with my husband when he gets home from work, and I’m hoping that he can sneak in some math and science lessons during that time as well.
Reading through what I’ve written, it sounds like I’ve presented this perfect, rosy view of homeschooling. I do realize that it will be challenging and will most likely be a difficult transition when we first begin but it comes with great advantages that, from our current perspective, make it the best option for our family.
Do you homeschool? I’d love to share your story with my readers! Read this for more info!