Note from Amanda: Educating our kids is part of the bigger picture of teaching our kids about God and the Bible. Each family is unique. How do you navigate the myriad of schooling choices? Tasha shares her experience to help families think through the “how to school” decision.
I grew up as a teacher's kid. I have such fond memories of roaming the school hallways early in the mornings, pinning bulletin boards for my mom, grading papers at night, and cutting out laminated items for hours. I loved it.
So naturally, when my husband (Josh) and I got married, I envisioned waving to my future children as they climbed on the school bus to head to school. I didn't have much perspective on homeschooling at all, except for the fact that Josh was the oldest of 5 kids and they were all homeschooled.
With preschool and kindergarten just around the corner for our littlest, the conversations began picking up and our prayers intensified as we tried to weigh the pros and cons of sending our kids to school vs. keeping them at home. Josh really liked the idea of homeschool but I didn't know where to even begin!
Luckily, the church we attended had an excellent preschool and Areyna (our daughter) got a full scholarship to attend 3 days a week. This also happened to be the time that Josh and I were traveling full-time leading worship for camps, conferences, and retreats. The amount of time Areyna was away from the classroom began to pose an attendance problem, and would only be exacerbated when she began elementary school.
So, I jumped all in and began our homeschool journey. At first it was really great! I loved it! Actually, I take that back. I LOVED seeing progress (watching your child read their first word is pretty amazing), I loved getting organized, I loved the concept of it, I loved the plans I had in my head. The flexibility enabled us to travel full-time and even move to Uganda to adopt our daughter, because we just brought school with us!
Less than a month after our new daughter came to America, we added our 5th child. I was now homeschooling a 2nd grader, a child somewhere between preK and K, and 2 preschoolers. It was all beginning to catch up with me. Areyna's phonics was falling behind and the two preschoolers weren't getting NEARLY enough attention between the newborn and the Kindergartner who needed constant supervision and help.
After 3 years of preschool with little to no progress, we decided to go to a child psychologist who helped us sift through it all. Our son was later diagnosed with ADHD, several different types of dyslexia, processing disorders, and anxiety (just to name a few). To us these were not labels that were going to DEFINE our son, but rather a means to help us get the help he needed in order to thrive.
This new information helped us make a connection with our base school to see what kind of resources they had available for him. But after seeing all they had to offer and the amount of time he would be at the school, we felt like the best route would be to enroll him in the school. Because of his anxiety, though, we didn't feel like he should be the only one to make such a big change, so we also enrolled his older sister. I continued to teach Alethia and Cai through Preschool here at home.
For us, we had a decision to make, and it had to be based on what OUR family needed, not what the latest statistics portrayed.
The first thing we did was pray. We needed God's direction and peace to make this leap of faith.
Second, we had to put aside what other family members and friends might think about our decision.
Third, I had to let go of any feelings of failure. I am not someone who just gives up when something gets tough, so to have something that I couldn't “fix” through perseverance was difficult for me. But I was NOT going to let this circumstance be dictated by my pride or self doubt.
Fourth, we just needed to make a decision and run with it. No second-guessing and wavering. Own the decision and walk confidently in it.
Fifth, we made the decision that this particular decision was NOT permanent. It was a decision that we made for this particular season. Every year we reevaluate where each of our children are with the needs they have, the current school system, the status of their heart, our relationship with them, and the season of life we are in. In fact, Areyna is already talking about wanting to be homeschooled for middle school.
If you are on the fence about whether to homeschool or not, take a few days and pray about it. Jot down the pros and cons and make the decision based on what YOUR family needs, and be open to reevaluate often.