If I have learned one thing about parenting over and over again, it’s that I knew nothing of parenting before I became one myself. All of those statements that began with, “I will never…” or “I will always…” pre giving birth were total self indulgent crap opinions. One of them was, “I would never consider homeschooling my kid because I’m not a teacher so I’m not qualified.” On top of that I’m sure I also concluded that home-schooled kids lacked proper social skills and therefore were doomed to become non-functioning members of society. Well, well, well…here we are today as I gather all the proper forms like a birth certificate and immunization records to apply for a homeschool program.
How did we get here? It was a slow process to be sure. Our daughter is 4 years old and currently attending a lovely preschool program through our local Parks and Recreation Department. Over the last few years we have had the pleasure of attending various classes like gymnastics, art, dance, etc. Each time we would meet one or more families who home-schooled their children. My questions were motivated more by an incredulous curiosity, “Why do you homeschool?” Some of the time my suspicions were confirmed when I would receive answers like, “We are a conservative family and want more focus on religion and control over what our children are learning in public school.” Each time I got that answer I would nod a bit smugly to myself and think that is absolutely not us. For everytime I got that answer I started noticing a trend. Much more often than not I got a variety of different responses and my interest began to pique.
My main concerns about homeschooling had evolved and had nothing to do with lack of social interaction. That proved to be true almost right away as I mentioned, most homeschooling parents tend to go above and beyond to shuttle their kids to extra curricular activities. Our Parks and Rec District even has classes exclusively for home-schooled kids. In fact, these kids have ample opportunity to participate in many more activities than their traditionally schooled peers. I consistently hear parents complain about the amount of homework their very young children have. I see older kids giving up activities they love to make time for more homework. You start to feel sorry not only for the kids but also for the parents who bear the brunt of ensuring all this homework gets completed. It becomes a battle and as a parent that gets old really fast. Not to mention kids start to not like school. When you attend classes from 8-2 or 3 pm and then have to do 1-2 or more hours of homework it starts to take a toll. What about family time, practicing sports or music, playing outside, etc.?
My real concerns were, “Would my child be accepted into college with a homeschool education?” Along with, “Am I capable and willing to take on this tremendous responsibility?” I have learned so much about the different programs available and I can say with confidence that if you want to homeschool there is a program for you. This was a huge relief because we have become increasingly concerned for our daughter’s safety and mental well-being in a public school setting. Between the frequency of mass shootings in public schools and the presence of unrestricted internet access from Smart Phones we were worried about our ability to protect our daughter. Now I know that sadly, mass shootings take place anywhere. I also realize I can’t shelter our daughter from what she sees on the internet forever. There are other reasons we want to homeschool. The freedom to travel when we dictate versus set school holidays is appealing. Our daughter’s love of figure skating, dance and other activities that are helping her become a well rounded person won’t have to be cut short or replaced entirely. The fact that I can tailor a teaching style to my individual kid instead of the potential for her to struggle through a subject because it’s only taught one way. As much as I want to refrain from projecting my own experiences with public school onto our daughter I can’t help but remember how painful Math was for me or how horrible mean girls made junior high school. I also want to teach our daughter so much more than what was included in a public school curriculum. More focus on women in history and science for instance. I also want to spend time with her. I’m not going to pretend that I will meet all her needs, the older she gets she will need more mentors and different positive role models. Being able to guide her towards people who have her best interests in mind rather than have her influenced by unsupervised peer pressure is a better alternative.
I am fortunate to have the option to homeschool her. For us it feels like a good fit. If you are curious about homeschooling or on the fence about it I highly recommend joining an online group of homeschooling parents. Start a Pinterest board with ideas. Read a few blogs on what works for other parents. There isn’t a one size fits all approach and to me that’s a good thing but it also means it can be a bit overwhelming. It helps to figure out what your motivation to homeschool is all about, then seek out the people who will support you.
About This Blogger: Ciara Polikretis
Ciara is a Doula, entrepreneur and champion for women. She received her degree in Communications from Baylor University. She strives to keep learning and growing by taking photography classes, improving her sewing skills, traveling to kid friendly destinations and reading something with actual pages. She continues to remind herself that a spotless house doesn’t make her a better person and loves surrounding herself with smart, witty and creative women to keep her grounded and inspired. She is good at accepting constructive criticism but terrible at directions. Ciara lives in permanently sunny Los Angeles with her husband, daughter and French Bulldog.