As my bio below suggests, I never intended to homeschool. Every homeschool person I knew growing up was weird, awkward, or socially inept. Plus, I went to public school and always really enjoyed it. So when I had children, the conversations about schooling never came close to “homeschool”. They were about public vs. private vs. charter.
And then I had a super bright child with a birthday just after the cut off. And I started questioning. Would it be academically fair and fitting to send my almost 6 year old to Kindergarten to learn her abc’s when she was already reading at a 3rdish grade reading level, and ahead across the board in all other subjects? Would it be socially fair to put her in a higher grade level with kids older than her at a private school? When I answered “no” to both of these, I agreed (albeit reluctantly) to “try” homeschooling for a year (letting our daughter skip Kindergarten) and see how it went.
It took me almost a full year to decide that I did, actually, enjoy homeschooling.
We are in our second year of homeschooling, and I am learning how to juggle a 2nd grader, a Kindergartener, a preschooler, and a baby. It’s hard and challenging, but I’m still enjoying it. Here are my (current) top 6 things I love about homeschooling:
1. My children move at whatever speed and pace suits them. My almost 7 year old can work ahead in language arts, while staying at a 2nd grade level in math. My 5 year old can master the letters and sounds that are difficult for her in reading before moving on to the next thing. They don’t have to get pushed ahead in areas where they’re not ready, or held back in areas where they’re excelling. It’s all at their pace.
2. My children can focus on interests. We listen to our children speak and question things, and use those to decide what we’re going to learn. The best time to learn about something is when you’re actually interested in it, right?
3. We can use our days for activities, freeing up our evenings for family time. I HATE giving up our evening family time. My children and I both want to spend time with their dad when he comes home, not at sports and activities. Since we have our days available, we can do most of our activities during the day. Places like Urban Roots or Freeman Karate or the Galena Creek Visitor Center even offer homeschool specific classes during the day. We even take our private swim lessons during the day, too.
4. My children (and myself) can take a break when we need it. If they’re tired, cranky, frustrated, or not feeling well, we can take a break. Sometimes this means we just put away the books for the rest of the day and go do something fun or just relax, but sometimes this means we take a couple days off in a row. We can take breaks for family vacations without worrying about them “missing” something in school.
5. My children interact with both children their own age and with children of all ages. Some of our activities are with homeschool families in general, providing opportunities for my children to learn how to interact with children older than them, and how to help with children younger than themselves, too. We also participate in co ops and my children take classes that are based more on age.
6. We get to try a lot of new things. There are a TON of homeschoolers in Reno, and there are a lot of different co ops, classes, field trips, and events that are catered to homeschoolers. Not only that, but often these things are at greatly reduced costs or even free. We got to go to the Reno Air Races this year for the first time, and we went for free with one of our homeschool groups. Co ops work by all the parents being involved, and means classes are very inexpensive. My daughters, for instance, are taking ballet for 10 weeks, for only $20 each. My kids also take Art, Spanish, and preschool classes at the co op.
My biggest concern when I started homeschooling was how to get them in social situations and meeting friends. But since starting, I have found that I actually have to turn down many activities/get togethers/events because our schedule gets so full. I’m thankful for the homeschool community in Reno, and I’m loving the adventure homeschooling has been for our family!