Homeschooling was something that I always wanted to do. I loved the idea of facilitating my children’s education and being really hands-on. I homeschooled my oldest for preschool when he was 4, but when we lost our son Bennett, I lost my ability to focus on anything. Homeschooling was intimidating and felt impossible. We found a fantastic preschool for him to attend, and then we moved to a neighborhood with a great elementary school.
We really loved our neighborhood school.
My oldest’s teachers were terrific, and the support staff seemed really great as well. We had a few instances of poor communication, but that stuff happens all the time, so we didn’t overthink it.
Then, in February of last year, there was another school shooting.
I made a flippant comment on social media about wanting to homeschool my children in a bubble. That comment brought the long-lost idea of homeschooling back to the forefront of my mind— but I kept pushing it to the background!
Towards the end of the school year, we noticed that one of our sons experienced a lot of anxiety and some angry outbursts. Once school was out, we saw a distinct change in those areas. Our happy little guy was back again. That’s when I started asking a few of my homeschooling friends for their input and suggestions and began looking at different curriculums.
Making the Homeschooling Leap
On July 12th, one of my friends reminded me that the deadline to register as a homeschool with the state of Nebraska was July 15th. I went ahead and filled out the paperwork so that the process would be started. I had no idea what curriculum I was going to use or what I was going to do! But I figured we’d go for it. I didn’t want to look back and wonder if I could have homeschooled my kids and missed out because of my fears and insecurities.
In August, after asking for insight and opinions from family members, who are educators, and friends, who homeschool, I finally decided and ordered our curriculum. I was so excited to get started, but it was important to me that we broke some of the scheduled feelings of standard schooling. When everyone in Papillion headed back to school in mid-August, we headed to the zoo! We didn’t start our “formal” school until after Labor Day.
The main thing I would advise anyone who is thinking of homeschooling is to not be intimidated. There are so many different ways that you can homeschool. It’s essential to find what works best for your family. And if you try homeschooling and it doesn’t seem like a good fit, you can send them back to public or private school! It’s not a lifetime commitment!
The other important thing I would say is to ask questions—join Facebook groups for your area and/or for the curriculum that you end up choosing. Omaha has a lot of great resources for homeschooling parents. Other parents and teachers are also a great resource! Don’t feel married to the curriculum. It’s okay to change your mind if you find a curriculum isn’t working for your family. There are so many fish in the sea, so to speak.
Break the mold of traditional education.
We do work from a book, but we also do a lot of experience-based learning. Field Trips and fun science projects are an excellent way for your kids to learn something and not even realize it’s happening!
And lastly, don’t be hard on yourself.
No one is perfect. We’re all just doing our best for our kids. There are days when I want to throw in the towel because I feel like I’m failing my kids in so many ways, but these boys of mine love me—even when I don’t get the right supplies for a project we were supposed to do!
I’m still figuring out what I’m doing.
Every day is a different battle, but, so far, homeschooling has been a huge gift for our family. The boys are learning and growing based on our curriculum’s assessments (which aren’t necessary, but we like them). We all have loved spending more time together, although sometimes I miss the silence I could have during my youngest’s nap time if my older boys were in school! We’ve even been able to go on family trips during regular school days and also just take a day off when we weren’t feeling it.
Homeschooling definitely isn’t for everyone, and if you asked me a year or two ago, I would never have thought that I would be homeschooling! I’m glad we made the leap—even if it was kind of on accident!