The question posed at The Blog Cruise this week is this: "How has homeschooling affected your family?" First, some background as to why we chose homeschooling.
Many years ago, when B13 was just a preschooler, he attended a developmental preschool. We had originally placed him there due to his severe speech delay. At age three he was still only saying first syllables and had a vocabulary of about ten words. The state offered free preschool for children with delays and they also offered free therapy during. I thought it wonderful.
B13 florished and thrived. Along with speech therapy it was also determined that he needed occupational therapy for "sensory issues" (i.e. he has autistic tendencies). For two years he attended this preschool. I loved his teachers. I loved his therapists. I also spent a lot of time in the classroom. While it was "local," as most things are in rural Maine, it was about 20 minutes from our house. Sometimes I would hang out for the morning at the school to observe B13 and take lots of photos! I was also still a working mom at the time but I was able to tweak my schedule to fit in preschool.
Here is a sample of our day the first year B13 attended preschool:
- Up by 6am to get ready for the day.
- Out the door by 7am and headed 20 minutes in the opposite direction from where I worked to take B13 to preschool
- 7:30-8:00 B13 received speech therapy - on occasion I would sit in and watch but the room was very tiny so I did not do this often.
- 8-11am B13 attended preschool. He was pulled out for an hour once a week for occupational therapy.
- While he was in preschool I would either do some grocery shopping or read or nap and I actually even once worked on a scrapbook in the back of my minivan - I folded down all the seats and used them as tables.
- Pick B13 up from preschool, eat lunch on the way, and drive to work - an hour in the opposite direction.
- Drop B13 off at day care and go to work for the remained of the afternoon.
We did this twice a week and I thought this was all wonderful.
Fast forward two years. B13 is now five years old. We have now moved to a different town and N8 has joined the family. In talking with B13's preschool teachers we had made the decision to have him wait a year before starting kindergarten. His birthday falls at the end of August and the state "allows" you to wait a year (in actual fact - the state only requires school from 7th birthday to 17th birthday but I didn't find that out until I began homeschooling). We felt he was too immature to start.
This is when it finally hit me. I had just quit my job to stay home to raise my boys. N8 was just a baby when we moved (3 months) to a different town. Why did we move? We sold our house so that I could stay home. We couldn't afford the mortgage on just my hubby's salary. We went from a 3000+ square foot home to a four room apartment.
I did the math literally. B13 would be spending more time with someone else every day. I had quit my job. We had sold our home. All so I could be a SAHM to my children and yet I was planning to send my first born off to public school. I was suddenly interested in other methods of education.
Thankfully living in the same town was one of hubby's co-workers and his family. He and his wife had been homeschooling their children for quite some time. I began asking her more and more questions. She was extremely helpful and truly held my hand that first year. She was a huge help with getting us started on homeschooling.
Since B13 wasn't going to be starting public school that year, I called it my "bonus year" and decided to give this "homeschooling" thing a try. We never looked back. My two younger boys have never had to go to daycare or attend preschool or any other "school" but our "homeschool." And I'm so very glad. The stress of getting everyone out of the house on time every day was gone.
So how does this all answer the question I posed earlier? "How has homeschooling affected your family?"
- They get to spend their entire afternoon (from lunchtime on) playing outside, inside, with each other - just enjoying their childhood - being boys.
- I know my boys. I know their favorite colors, favorite things, favorite foods, etc.
- I get to chuckle over the things they say - like when B13 exclaimed one day "Lands sakes, Mom, I'm a teenager!" in response to me telling him he couldn't text on my cell phone. Now seriously, how many teenagers talk like that? We have a decided lack of "peer influence" for which I'm extremely grateful.
- I learned that siblings really can be good friends. Yes, they fight a lot, but they are also fierce friends.
- They spend oodles of time with their great-grandfather and grandparents every single day.
- They spend oodles of time with me. I am one of the biggest influences on the character of my boys - not anyone else. It is completely up to their father and I how they turn out. We don't have to worry about what others are teaching
Overall homeschooling has made us a family in ways I never knew it could. Our boys have strong bonds. They have lasting memories of each other as well as extended family. I'm so glad we made this choice seven years ago. I have never really regretted it.