If you are one of the ten people who follow me on Pinterest then you've probably already put this together, but (deep breath...) Steve and I have made the decision to homeschool the girls next year.
The fact that we have changed our minds so completely about this issue, just confirms that this is a God-thing. We've never been against homeschooling, but we've never felt it was for our family. The people we know who homeschool do it really well, and it always seemed like more than what our family wanted to take on. Honestly, we've just never felt the need. That has definitely changed in our hearts.
In a nutshell, our reason for homeschooling is this...
It's oversimplified, of course, but also such a clear picture of what's in our head when we think of what we want for the little humans who we're responsible for.
So, for my own benefit, for those moments when I think I'm failing, or when I forget why we ever decided to do this, here are some of our reasons for homeschooling:
• First of all, this is not a negative reaction to Bella's current school. We love Eastside, and I am so unbelievably grateful that we were financially able to send Bella there for two years. She has grown and matured and blossomed as a little girl during her time there! We love the teachers, the principal, the Christian education, the other parents - it's a great school that I would continue to recommend to parents who are looking for a Christian school for their children. That being said...
• I'm ready for school and childhood to not be at war with each other. I hear parent after parent talking in the hallways, in carpool lines, at school plays about the amount of homework their children are struggling with. Over an hour for third grade, two hours for fifth grade. Students are stressed out, exhausted, and over-extended. Parents just seem sad or at a loss. These aren't articles I'm reading; these are real kids and families who go to our school. And it's not entirely the school's "fault"; this is our culture at-large and the expectations that come with false measures of success. I've talked to parents who have their kids in public schools and say the same thing. I want my girls to be kids! I want them to learn and be challenged, yes, but I want them to play and run and be silly! Homeschool gives us the freedom to raise our children with the best of both worlds.
• I'm never being separated from Steve for five weeks again. Steve's schedule may not always be as intense as it was this past Fall, but his job will always include some sort of travel. I don't ever want our family to be broken up for that long again. I don't care if we're doing school in a hotel in the middle of Tennessee - we may not always travel with him, but homeschooling means we can if we want to. I love the freedom that comes with that!
• My Instagram feed. No, not the pictures with the pretty filters...if I look back through my photos, it's hard to find one of Bella. I miss her. I don't know if it's God changing my heart or that I've become a little more of a hippie with each new little human or a combination of both, but I like my kids. Sure, they drive me crazy, and exasperate me, and there are plenty of times when I wish I could scream at them without scarring them for life, but they're also hilarious and smart and weird and loving and so much fun! I hate sending Bella to school every morning. We don't want to form our own little cult or anything, but we want to enjoy our kids for as long as we can.
• Financially, it's a plus. I'm pretty sure I saw happy, little dollar signs in Steve's eyes when I first brought up the issue of homeschooling. (He tried his best to hide them!) We pay almost $700 a month for Bella's private school, and in two years, Evelyn would be an additional $500 on top of that. (And that doesn't include, uniforms, curriculum fees, registration fees, etc.) That's a lot of money. And in my mind, it's always been totally worth. I was raised in a Christian school, and I've always wanted that for my children. But as we started talking and praying about homeschooling, it was hard to ignore the financial benefit. It would give our family freedom to do other things, while also getting an education...we could choose some of the most expensive curriculum for Bella's entire year for what we currently pay in one month of tuition.
• We're okay if it's a total disaster. (Okay, not o-kay, but you get the idea...) Here's the thing: if we do this for a year and decide we must have been very, very wrong about what we thought God was telling us to do, then we go back to a school that we've loved or explore any number of other options. We're in the incredible position of not being stuck with just one thing. I'm excited about homeschooling, and I think it will be a wonderful success, but if it's not, we can walk away without too much baggage.
• A few "extras"...not being on anyone else's daily schedule, having a better grasp on the outside influences our children are facing, being able to travel and visit family whenever we want, not wasting time with things that are just a part of a traditional school day...there are a lot for us.
This choice is not for every family, and I don't think that our decision to homeschool makes us better parents than anyone else, but I also know that this is the right choice for us.