As a family, we chose to homeschool our oldest for Kindergarten, sent her to public school for first grade, and have homeschooled the following 2 years. Some people cheer us on, others don’t get it. Some families say “I wish I could” and other people act like we are judging them for not homeschooling, which is not the case. What I know is as a family, in this season, homeschooling is the best option for us.
The BIG Problems With Public School
A few years ago Stef was helping a high school senior write lesson and said “We are going to write this like a 3 part essay.” The student had no clue what intro, body, and conclusion where.
It seems like today more then ever families are struggling with the public school system. Administrations and politicians consistently have excuses for why test scores are decreasing and discipline problems rising but no good solutions seam to be on the table.
We hear that the student to teacher ratio is too high, but that number has been on the decline for literally 100 years.
We are told students need to be in school year-round; 180 days is just not enough. But time in school also rose.
We are told we need to spend more money. But spending per student has also been on the rise.
I could list other talking points, but that’s not really my goal. We all feel and see the effects of a failing school system.
I should also note that all the graphs I am using are just shy of 30 years old. That’s because I struggled to find newer information (granted I didn’t look very long). Since we are told these are the issues the statistics to back it up SHOULD be at our fingertips. Why aren’t they?
In even more recent times new problems have arisen. One local school decided last week to spend $2,400,000 because of one girl who struggles with what a few years ago was seen as a mental health disorder.
The brokenness of the public school system is only a small part of our decision to home school.
Private School – Out of Reach
Because as a family we struggled with public school we looked at private school. The issue was the expense. Many private schools offer great scholarships but the expense will still be too great for us to cover with 4 children.
This isn’t a criticism of the private schools. And I recognize we choose to have 4 children and knew each came with additional expense. But that removed private schools from the equation.
After trying public school for a year we discovered another issue that private schools would present for our family; I’ll get to that soon.
The Struggles With Homeschooling
When Ava went into kindergarten Stef and I decided to give it a try. The year was a struggle. As a family, Stef did the majority of the work to home school Ava but it was a constant strain on their relationship. Ava can be strong-willed and would refuse to do work she didn’t want to do. We struggled to find a way to motivate Ava.
The Attempt at Public School
The following year as Ava went into first grade we decided to try out public school. From her teachers’ perspective, Ava thrived as a student. Every quarter she was off the charts on their testing. From this angle, the public school system looked great but four big problems arose.
- Every night when she got home she had so much pent up energy she acted crazy for the first 2 hours. We discovered as a first grader she only got 20 minutes of recess. That’s not nearly enough.
- As we talked with her we discovered she was bord. She was spending the majority of her day on a Chromebook playing learning games.
- The school didn’t like the number of educational trips we took (we like adventure).
- I almost never saw her during the week (Private School wouldn’t fix this).
Back to Homeschooling
Now #4 was the biggest deciding factor that lead to us switching back to homeschooling. I was serving as a youth pastor at the time. The majority of my nights and weekends were taken up with “work” so to see Ava I had to drive her to school every day. Some dads might be okay with this but not me. I wanted to see and invest in my children. By switching back to homeschooling I know I can spend at least one full weekday with my kids.
This is still not the perfect solution, and we continue the discussion on how to insure our children receive the best education possible. There are still days when we wonder if it was the correct choice, but we know in this season it looks like the best option for us.
Things to Consider Before Homeschooling
If you are considering homeschooling don’t rush the decision. Here are a few questions I would recommend your family works through together.
- What is the leading driving factor leading us to consider homeschooling?
- Am I in agreement with my spouse on homeschooling?
- Do I (and/or my spouse) have the budget and organizational skills needed to buy and oversee my child’s curriculum?
- Does my (or my spouses) schedule allow us to invest intentional learning time every day?
- How will I provide intentional socialization time for my child? Are their community co-ops? Does my local school district allow home school students to take specials (Gym, art, or music)? Does the local library have homeschool programs?
- What goals must we hit as a homeschool family to consider the year a success? If we don’t hit them what’s our fallback plan?
How have you chosen to educate your children? What pro’s and con’s lead to that decision? Comment below.