Foolishly, I thought I was done taking huge leaps as a mother. Maybe that’s an oversimplification. I knew there’d be big decisions in such a changing world and that homeschool loomed as a possibility in the future, but nothing seemed imminent. Then we went on quarantine and suddenly we had to build school into our home routine. And, to my surprise, my oldest didn’t miss school. Instead, she asked if we could keep doing this together. Weeks went by, and she felt the same. More than two months later and she hasn’t looked back.
As for me, deciding to homeschool next year instead of returning to her sweet Waldorf school has been an enormous contemplation. Day by day, week by week, I’ve been testing the waters. I’ve reached out to all the homeschoolers I know — and, thankfully, I know four amazing women who’ve assured me it’s not only doable but a lifestyle I didn’t know I craved so deeply.
I’ve researched and researched some more. I’ve read about famous entrepreneurs, performers, and scientists who were homeschooled. I’ve read stories from entrepreneur moms who’ve decided to homeschool and learned to balance their own careers with also teaching their children (hint: it takes creativity and a village we have to create ourselves). I’ve dug so deep that finally one morning I woke up and just knew it was the right decision for us right now.
Still, it’s a hard choice to make. I worry maybe my child is missing something by not going to a traditional school. Then I look deeper and see all the holes in my own education, the years of boredom I spent staring out the window, and all the social struggles I experienced — and then I allow myself to think differently about homeschooling.
No path is perfect. We all just do our best and pick what feels right for our families. I want my children to love to learn, to go deep into areas that interest them, to develop hobbies and skills without the stress of not enough time, to not waste hours sitting idly in a classroom waiting for everyone else to shut up. I also want this to be what we all want as a family, so we’ll check back in annually to make sure it’s still the right course for each of us.
For now, I’m excited. I miss teaching and have so much fun teaching my own children. Teaching keeps me present with them. It’s easy for me in the course of days and weeks to lose track of time and not give them enough focused attention. Imaginative play, while so important for them (and still a huge part of their routine), isn’t my strong suit.
However, give me fresh brains and materials and I love the challenge of helping my kids learn (even if it’s just how to move a paintbrush across paper and explore combining colors). Homeschooling has already become a source of quality time together in our family rhythm. They still get tons of unstructured play, which is so important in early childhood, but I also get time for focused activities together, which I love.
As for working and homeschooling, I’m lucky. I work 25 hours per week and homeschooling can be achieved in a few hours per day. What takes six hours at school, takes only a couple hours at home. I already see this. I hear it from my homeschooler friends. It excites me that both are possible — although I know I’ll be taking some other things off my plate to make it work (and enlisting the help of others for those hours when I’m working).
I just want my kids to grow up knowing life is full of possibilities. I want them to learn to pursue knowledge that excites them and believe the sky is literally the limit. I want to be able to pick up and travel with them no matter what month of the year it is — and take the learning with us. I want to raise them on our evolving homestead, learning how to take care of themselves, plants, and animals, while also showing them the world and letting them pick the activities they love to spend hours fine tuning (I already see ballet and horseback riding in our post-quarantine future). I want to teach them to write their own rules for what life can look like.
As we cruised through Kauai last summer with the sunshine bouncing around us and the tropical breeze blowing through our hair, we dreamed together of a future where we lived outside the box. This is that first step. It’s scary. It’s a leap. But, it’s also incredibly exciting. I want to prove with time that this lifestyle can be rewarding and hugely educational — socially, emotionally, and mentally.
From what I’ve already seen, it can be amazing.