The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

My WHY of Home School

Posted · 141 Comments

As my family announces its intention to home school six of our kids starting in January, we’ve received many responses similar to, “WHAT THE CRAP!?  ARE YOU CRAZY?!  And while the answer to that question is a resounding, “YES”, there are other reasons behind our decision to home school our kids besides the crazy factor.

The simple answer is:

We are planning some travel that would take our kids from school for a period of time and we don’t want to be restricted to a two week time period.  If you’ve ever bought plane tickets for nine from Alaska to the lower 48, you know that we could retire on the interest alone of such an investment. Therefore, we plan to make good use of our money spent.

The more complicated answer is:

My children are spending eight to twelve hours of the day with someone else.  And other people, though I dearly love them, are not supposed to be raising my children.  That’s my job.  And I want to do it.

For eighteen years I have had children in the public school system…and I’ve loved it.  My children have been very, very blessed to have almost 100 percent awesome teachers who love them for who they are, where they came from, and where they are going.  Public school teachers have made monumental, life changing differences in my children.  Our school is phenomenal in so many ways…and I adore the way those people love and treat my children.

My kids public school teachers have been their biggest fans, and my biggest supporters in their education…including our decision to bring them home.

But I will tell you…it has comes with a price.  In a home with seven children there are no homework-free evenings.  There is no down time. We are non-stop, by the seat of our pants, on the go every single day.  All of my kids are extremely athletic and there is never a time during the school year that one or more is not in a sport.  More often than not, we have two or three going on at once.  Currently four of the kids are in Native Youth Olympics which is all year long.  Six of the kids are basketball players, three are in track and three are in volley ball.  Practices range from six a.m. to as late as eight p.m. five days a week and games on the weekends.  On Sundays we collapse in a heap of exhaustion and think about how we should have gone to church…but we just needed some down time.

We have NO family time.  We should be taking snowmachine rides.  We should be cross country skiing.  We should be spending time at our cabin.  We should be hunkered down around the woodstove on a cold Thursday afternoon drinking cocoa and discussing the latest literary piece we read together.  We should be…a family.

And because life is spiraling by unbelievably fast and our children will soon be grown and gone, we’ve had to take a deep look at how we are raising our kids…and make some hard choices about how to best handle our limited time each day.

Because…Do I want dinner time to consist of shoveling food in with one hand while multiplying fractions with the other because bedtime was an hour ago and we just walked in the door? Or do I want them leisurely spooning in their hot meal over conversation and laugher because they finished their work that morning, in time for basketball practice?  Yes, I believe I do.

Do I want my children bound by rules to a chair seven hours a day for the rest of their childhood?  Or do I want them learning in spurts, the material I see fit for their future…the realistic future of a child born affected by alcohol in utero who physically…medically…can NOT sit still?  Yes, I believe I do.

Do I want them studying subjects that will never have any prevalence in their lives just because the vast majority of their classmates will benefit? Or do I want them spending their days learning life skills, work ethic, and survival skills for fending off alcoholism, drugs and abusive relationships in lives that, statistically speaking, they are bound for?  Yes, I believe I do.

Do I want my child who scored about 220 on state testing and my child who scored around 480 on state testing…and are in the same classroom…judged by the same standards and required to understand the same lecture, the same materials? Or do I want them working side by side but at the level I choose for them…a level where the child who struggles can shine and feel successful and the one that things come easy to can feel challenged?  Yes, I believe I do.

Do I want them spending one hundred and forty hours a month within the walls of a classroom, cramming text book information into their brains at a rate not determined by them or their abilities but rather by a standard set down by the federal government? Or do I want them spending minimal time seated behind a text book, and more of their time with their hands on the learning, outside the classroom, outside of the box…absorbing what their brains can…less if they are limited in their capacity and more if they have a burning desire to do so?  Yes, I believe I do.

The fact is, my children are damaged. Their brains are affected by a multitude of past influences both in utero, and out.  Without detailing their personal history…collectively, and most overlapping, my kids suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Methamphetamine Effect, Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorder… and… well… everything that comes along with having birth parents and relatives who passed on these wonderful attributes to their beloved, innocent children.

I have children who gain far more from learning life skills than from sitting still for seven hours a day. I have children who are not physically capable of sitting still, who don’t benefit from that many hours in a regular classroom setting.  I have children who wiggle.

And by God, children need to wiggle!

Do I believe home school is for everyone, every parent, every child?  Of course not.  That’s why we have our phenomenal school just down the road, full of educators eager to take over where my failings leave off.  Not everyone is cut out to home school, and maybe I’m one of those people who won’t be able to manage.  But this is a personal decision we have made…as a family…and it’s what is best for us right now.  Next school year… maybe not.  Maybe I’ll be the first one in line, kicking them out of the van as I slow down in front of the school, as some of you remember I was this fall.

And meanwhile, if in the next four months, you see me running down the middle of the highway, screaming and waving my arms as if in deranged panic—just swerve, put me out of my misery, and keep right on going.

 
 
141 Responses to "My WHY of Home School"
  1. JB says:

    Interesting learning site…. http://www.khanacademy.org/

  2. Kristy K. James says:

    I wish I’d been able to homeschool my kids. But I admit I don’t have the patience (or discipline) to do that. I also have an autistic son who desperately needed to be around other kids to develop social skills.

    But I would have enjoyed the freedom you’re all about to have. And the opportunity to spend more time with them. I have a friend who homeschooled her boys until they decided they wanted to go to high school, and she said that they learned more in half the time.

    So as long as you don’t have a breakdown in the middle of the road, you should all be happier. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Jenny Bannon says:

    That is amazing. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you have gleaned from your experiences. thank you thank you. And You Go Girl!

  4. MomTo2 says:

    I hope you are having fun with the homeschooling project! We have done this once or twice and never regretted it. When it was boring, we took a road trip to a national park and studied history and geography, and did math in the car. I read a statistic a few years ago that academic curriculum through 12th grade can be covered in about 2 hours a day for most kids. The rest of the time is basically social. I daydream about starting a coop school with 2/hrs per day of academic time, 2 hours of athletic activities of choice, and 2 hours of creative activities of choice. And then 2 hours in a supervised youth group doing something fun. That seems like the right mix to me! You are inspiring me to think about doing it again this year. 

  5. CyndiLJ says:

    I needed your post tonight, and had never seen your blog before.  I could have written almost every word of this myself about our fmaily of five, all adopted, all with challenges…but a couple less than on your list 🙂  Homeschooling has been our salvation on so many levels, and I don’t think it is for every family but I sure do think it IS for us.  Without it, we would all lose so much, and life in all ways would be far harder.  It WAS harder, for like you we too did public school for several years, and loved our teachers.  It just became clearer and clearer though that our kids’ needs could never, ever be met in a public school classroom setting, and that as we reached higher grades the homework requirements would get even worse, as you so eloquently pointed out.  We were not ready to sacrifice our precious little family time for homework.  3 of our 5 came to us as older children, we already lost half their childhood and wanted to salvage as much as we could.  We also realized that the traditional focus on college, memorization, etc. would never work for a ocuple of our kids, and would be a complete waste of time and ignore other far more important things.  Thanks for the boost I needed this evening, even though I know this is an older post I am glad it was here to find.

  6. Celia says:

    From Personal eperience….And point of veiw Elementary turns kids into Robots…
    I would not know how to read right now If my Mom had not homeschooled me as a child…and I’m 14!!!

  7. Jill says:

    we are going to homeschool our children as well. I have found a leadership education method we are very interested in.  It is call thomas jefferson education. Here is the link in case you are too: http://www.tjed.org/

  8. Margie W. says:

    November 2011 marked a year since we went from a homeschool family to a public education family.  For health and other reasons it was time for us to make that change in the interest of what’s best for the kids.  They have each flourished in their own ways.  For now, public ed is what is right for them.  In a few years, it might not still be right and we’ll change again at that time if it serves THEIR best interest.  That’s all you can do as a parent, I believe.  And you are doing a wonderful job!

  9. nuts4knits says:

    5 years and counting.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.  I love how close we are as a family, and that we eat, learn, and play together.  You will never regret it.

  10. TulipGirl says:

    Go for it!  As long-time homeschoolers who have juggled various kids in school at times — I’m just so, so thankful to have my two oldest home with me this year. . . if for no other reason than we need TIME together and they will be gone too soon.  (The corollary to that is this year? Thankful the youngers are at school — selfishly because it means I actually DO get this time with the older kids.  And I feel defensive about that around some, but. . .)

    More than anyone, YOU know what your family needs. . . you’ll have great days. . . and you”ll have lock-yourself-in-the-bathroom days.  But, hey.  That’s life as a mom.

  11. Billeen Carlson says:

    You’re awesome.  You’ll do great.  You and your kids are going to love it.  And…  FYI…  Both Sarah Lawrence and Bryn Mawr have special application and testing for homeschooled kids.  That says something.

  12. Alethaskid1 says:

    I homeschool my children because I was verbally and physically bullied in public school. I wanted many times to kill myself and/or my tormentors. Some of the ones bullying me were teachers. I love waking up@ 7:00 Am and getting “snuggles”with all three kids before the day begins. I love making healthy, tasty meals that my kids love. I love being the one they come to when they have a problem, instead of some child their own age, whose morals and values differ completely from our family’s. And I love the excitement in their eyes when they grasp a new concept. I would be missing so much if I didn’t school at home. I feel confident you will love it. I wouldn’t trade a minute of my life with my children!!! God bless your home school adventure!!

  13. CCK says:

    I think those are all great reasons.  I wish I felt like I had the patience to homeschool my kids, but I admit I dont feel cut out for it.  I stayed home for a long, long time, but I admit I selfishly enjoy the few hours of work a day.  I also dont know that I would do a good job teaching them on my own and feel like I may be doing them a disservice.  I dont love EVERYTHING about the school or the way school is run here, but I’m pretty involved and my kids do very well.  Sometimes I wish there was more individualized learning within a class, but the world is not perfect.  I could probably afford private school for all 4, but I’ve been to private school and it doesnt function much differently than public school except for the hour of religion class a day. Class size seems the same, so far we’ve had almost all incredibly wonderful teachers (I can honestly say I have only really disliked one and it was a kindy teacher that the school agreed I would never, ever have again) and our school is one of the top schools in our parish pretty much every year.  They are also in activities (we’ve been on a break for the fall/winter, which has been nice) so I know the “activities-dinner-homework” rush you are talking about.  Anyway, I think its great you are choosing to do that for your kids.  You are such a great mom, Keri.

  14. Jamie Lea92 says:

    My family live on a cattle station  in Queensland, Australia. Us kids never had an option of going to a ‘real’ school until we are sent of to boarding school for high school. My mum has home schooled me and every one of my brothers so far and still has another 3 kids to home school. As of now she has home schooled me and 3 of my brothers for a total of 13 years through Mount Isa School of Distance Education. she still has 2 of my brothers and my sister (being born in the next  week) to teach, meaning she has another 12 years to go. By the time she has finished she will have spent 25 years teaching her children. She says that it is the most painful and rewarding thing she has done.

    Good Luck with your adventure!

  15. Peachtreelynn says:

    Just found your blog.  Just read your post.  I homeschool my five and have for seven years.  I love it.  Give yourself time.  Everyday is different.  You will feel inadequate and self concious.  You will love it.  I agree with all that you wrote.  Know that you and your kids will have to detox from “typical” schooling for a bit.  Good luck!

  16. Stew1113 says:

    As somebody getting a Masters of Teaching and getting ready to go into the classroom- I applaud you! You have thought this out well and your kids will grow leaps and bounds because of it. As much as Im going to be a teacher and I think the social aspect of school is huge especially in Junior and High School, I also agree there is a lot of wasted time when kids could be learning practical things that simply arent taught in school. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to posts about how its going. 

  17. JessicaC says:

    I think your decision is awesome!  I have 3 children and we live a very “outside the box” kind of life.  There are always people trying to pull us back inside “the box”, but I have found it is not because that is what would be good for MY family, but what THEY (the outsiders) are comfortable with.  I think it is amazing you have found your own path and blessed all of the children you have come in contact with with your amazing ability to adapt – as your life sees fit.  

    I believe you will do wonderfully and your family will thrive – which is all that is important.  🙂

  18. Jcjlcg1 says:

    Homeschooling is amazing.  Just don’t limit yourself to 4 months of adjustment time.  Feel free to run screaming down the road anytime you need to.  Also, you’ll find that your relationship with the kids, which already sounds great, will become even more amazing.  Welcome to another adventure!

  19. Roxanne says:

    We’ve homeschooled our three all the way so far, currently grades 5,7, and 9 – they love it, I love the great conversations we’ve had and that if we want to delve in and spend longer on something, we have that freedom.  It’s been especially good for one of mine who has sensory integration disorder.  I wish you a wonderful journey as you begin!

  20. MJ says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!!

  21. In case no one has recommend it yet…check out http://www.khanacademy.com.  It’s free and it’s awesome!  We also have just found http://www.aleks.com and straighterline.com.  Not free, but doing wonders for my high schooler.  Enjoy your travels!

  22. Jen says:

    I took the plunge a year and a half ago and believe it or not…it’s easier than packing up everybody and sending them out.  We made our family through adoption too.  It’s clear they benefit from being worth my time.  Have you started your curriculum research?

  23. Kathy says:

    My girls did correspondence, one did grade 5, 8 and 9, the other 7, 8 and 9, our son grade 9. I know I didn’t make up their curriculum but it was great for us. We (them and us) have absolutely NO regrets. It was fantastic. I would do it again in a heartbeat and prob for more grades. Best wishes:)

  24. Tinawooley says:

    You are in the best place to home school! But I bet you already knew that!! I miss Alaska!

  25. Kat says:

    As a special ed para, I can tell you that mainstream classrooms aren’t for everyone. That doesn’t make them bad or good, just not ideal for kids who don’t learn in the “traditional” way. Homeschooling certainly has it’s perks – and I can’t recommend it enough for families with children who need that extra time and attention to reach their full potential. Not to mention the life skills they are learning from you and your husband are going to take them so much further than just memorizing facts by rote.  Good luck!

  26. Mlam says:

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  27. Darnie09 says:

    WOW, sooooo inspiring…..If…….only I could make the time as you do!  You go Girl….

  28. Booksintheburbs says:

    You are one awesome mom! No, not because you have adopted so many children. Although, I love you have that passion as not all parents have the calling to adopt.  No, not because you are homeschooling, either.  But, because you recognize your children’s needs, the family dynamics, know what is most important, and are willing to do something about it. Kudos to you!!!  I”m also homeschooling for the first time ever this January.  My oldest son will be homeschooled, my youngest daughter next year, and my middle child will be in private school, until I feel it it the right thing for him.  For now, I am trying to figure out how to do it well with one child and not freak out. I will quietly go back to my room now and quit complaining each time I think of you homeschooling 7…no room for me to talk 😉  Enjoy your holidays!

    • Ha, thanks and glad to keep your 1 in perspective with my 6(that are staying home)! I thought about picking and choosing which ones to keep home, and sending the rest. But because we are traveling, I only left the oldest, senior, in. She would claw my face off if I tried to homeschool her. ha

  29. Jbost says:

    I applaud you is the only word I can say right now.  And I mean that with warmth and love!  I know why the state has given you the chance to save these children.  Because YOU WILL!

  30. Leah says:

    Go for it! I’m a homeschool kid myself (2 1/2 years graduated).  Other than some problems with my math (hated it!) I truly loved being homeschooled. And, other then spending 3rd grade in a small private Christian school; (By ‘small’ I mean 12 kids in 3d & 4th grade combined,I was homeschooled for all the rest of my time. I read most of my history from good, well-researched fiction. (Try G. A. Henty as an excellent source of exciting historical fiction.) 

    Another book I would recommend is Anne Botsford Comstock’s ‘Handbook of Nature Study’. It is HUGE, but it has enough information to give you a starting point on any sciencey stuff, w/ the option of using outside materials to supplement.

    Back to my schooling, I wrote fiction stories in my last 3 years of high school as my grammar/composition/English credits. Only had a writing teacher for 1 semester. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t stopped the writing.

    This italic handwriting program, http://www.amazon.com/Italic-Handwriting-Book-Barbara-Getty/dp/0876780982/ref=pd_sim_b_7 is AMAZING! And yes, I meant to shout that. 😉 I went through this book in  about 8th grade. I had gotten SO frustrated with Palmer that I switched back to printing & was incredibly slow at it. Within a month I was writing in a clear, legible cursive handwriting that has become very unique in the years since then; and that is the genius of this program, it gives the kids a foundation that will become a writing ‘look’ unique to them!

    Oh yeah – if your kids ask  you what a word means, give ’em a big Webster’s dictionary & tell them – “Look it up!” My parents did & it did me some good!
    Leah

  31. Stacy Kirklin says:

    Exact reason we decided a few years ago to homeschool.   I love it!  Give your self some grace and time, there will be some hard days, but hopefully more good!   Enjoy your adventure!

  32. Chance H. Haller says:

    Want to home school me too? Lol

  33. Amity says:

    I homeschool my kids now for some of those main reasons you listen and a bunch more. This is the second full year and even though at the beginning of the year I had one that really wanted to go back it was not what was in his best interest. His only reason for wanting to go back was to hang out all day with friends. School is for education and that wasn’t his main goal. 
    As I see it our family is in the lower poverty range because dad doesn’t pay child support and step dad is working his way up the ladder at a gas station after spending years in the military but having no skill on the outside world. I want for my children to strive for Harvard and Yale to be lawyers, chemists, doctors, etc. Not to just graduate high school with a diploma. 

    I found it all starts in jr high that if they don’t get into the higher classes by high school then AP is out of the question as is other opportunities. It scares the heck out of me that the only thing kids want to do is play computer/video games and text (even while at school) all day long. I restrict these things and I am disliked for doing so often but I hope in the long run it will make all the difference in their life. 

    I can recommend that you get a lot of material that they can do on their own without you being the teacher.
    Make booklets/packets of things you want them to do if buying workbooks is to costly. You will find that some kids wiz through it while others take 3 days to even get to it. But that is okay seeing as learning is not all done in a book. let them garden, make lego robots, cook, take care of a toddler, clean house, cut firewood, make plans for an out house, build something silly because each and everything  is full of important skills that are taught inside a book just in a way that can be confusing to understand for some.

    I think it is great and I bet you will find that after a bit you actually save a ton of money, have more time than ever to do stuff and are healthier than ever as everyone eats less sugar and grease. 

    good luck! 
    Amity

  34. Amy says:

    Just found your blog by chance- Good luck to you homeschooling! Bless you and your amazing family! I am the mother of three wonderful children who are enrolled in private schools. I taught in special education classes for students Kindergarten through High School. I applaud your plan and your openness to change and belief in your children!

  35. CarolynC says:

    YAY!!!!  Your kids have an amazing mom!  I homeschool one kid (who needs to wriggle while he learns) and the other one is in public school (for as long as it works for her and she keeps learning at a rate that suits her talents).  It’s not easy for me but that’s what my kids need right now, so that’s what they’re getting.  Good luck to you and your brood!

  36. I would check out the requirement to “be in a program that requires testing because your kids want to play sports” ; I believe homeschoolers have the right to participate in public school programs inherently, as taxpayers, without giving the school access to their records and test results, but I can’t assert that as fact.  I would contact HSLDA and ask, they will know, and give truthful, unbiased info.  If the public school can buffalo you into giving them an inch, they have been known to take miles, in the name of receiving increased funding…  As a homeschooler, it will be best if you do not depend on the public school system to regulate your home schooling routine & life.   
      http://www.hslda.org/

  37. Heidifawn says:

    The 8 years I spent homeschooling my  7 children were the happiest years we have ever had, before and since. Even though there will be some struggles, the rewards will *far* outweigh them. Your family will look back on this time with love and fond memories. Here’s to enjoying your sweet kids!! <3

  38. I was a homeschooled kid, and also a dyslexic, ADD kid.  I went back and forth between public and home school, doing whatever seemed best at the time.  In high school I did most classes at home and a few in public school (my parents couldn’t teach me how to play the clarinet, spanish, or chemestry, etc).  I loved that combination to excell where I could and slow down when necessary.   I didn’t end up graduating from high school, but I have my GED and I’m currently in college.  I was a little slow getting to college, but that is another story.  My kids are in public school and they love it.  Maybe someday I’ll keep them home.   As long as you are doing what is best for your kids and family as a whole and as long as they are keeping up with their public school peers, I wish you the best.  I hope the experience your kids have is as great as the experience I had.

  39. Cathy says:

    I have 9 children and 7 of them are homeschooled right now, one graduated and the 2 year old just demolishes the house.  Homeschooling is the best for us, I hope it works great for you!

  40. Cliff Warmoth says:

    I wouldn’t swerve, that would give you relief!  Thanks for putting into words what many of us have felt for quite a while.  30 years ago I couldn’t fathom “home schooling”.  Now with two kids home schooled for almost five years(one has failed miserably, one excels), I feel differently.  They have both needed home schooling.  The one that has failed miserably has severe RAD and ODD, she has been protected as best we could from herself, her public school “education” would have been devastating to her.  Thanks for all you do here, I am frquently inspired by your words.

    • Interesting that your RAD ODD kid is the one failing at home school…those are the kids I was thinking most about when I started this plan. I hope it works for them…bonding time, and all…And thanks for the words of encouragement!

  41. Shannon S. says:

    I’ve been homeschooling for 17 years, I’m down to my last one, I do it for many of the same reasons that you have mentioned. It’s hard work but you will never regret it, there is so much more out there for our kids then to learn than just sitting in a classroom.

  42. LizAnn says:

    Amen!!! and since we  are now going to homeschool our son and I will be praying for him and me—I will include your family 😉

  43. Melinda Michener says:

    Good for you!  Families need to be able to make choices that are in the best interest of their children at a specific time.  It lets the kids know that they are important, that life changes and that change is ok-it doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just different and as a family you can work together.  Good luck and I might add that church is important too, let you pastor help with teaching them about spirituality-for homeschoolers it is an important social time.

  44. Becky says:

    LOVE this post! We home school and it has had it’s ups and downs but I know this is the best place for my kids for right now.  We have 4 adopted children all with various needs and I love the fact that I can tailor the curriculum to meet their needs and they can master it before we move on instead of rushing through because the state says they need to be at this place at this time.  My husband is a high school math teacher and my mother is a kindergarten teacher and we rock the boat by homeschooling! LOL  Also, if you don’t have a math curriculum that you like check out Math U See.  It’s awesome, a little pricey but so good!  We use Heart of Dakota for the rest of our Curriculum and I love it.  It uses living books to teach history.  I saw in one of your comments that you are using The Story of the World and have heard good things about that one too!  Good luck!  And the best advise I can give is if it’s not going well it might not be you or the kids it might be the curriculum and once you find the right one for each kid it’s a lot easier for everyone!  

  45. Franthwaites says:

    You go girl!

    I’ll be thinking of you , over here in Thailand, while you embark on your home – schooling adventure!
    I believe in home-schooling – some of my best friends either were home -schooled, or home-school their own children. BUT, it was not for my family. It was a family joke that I would threaten to home-school my kids if they didn’t lift their game – and they would react with exaggerated pleas on bended knee, to do anything I wanted, if I only they didn’t have to be home-schooled!

    And their education turned out well…..but, I still have pangs of almost regret when I read about the Duggars , and see how home-schooling has been a factor in binding their family so close together…my kids are scattered now, and I have 6 grandkids. If any of my kids what to homeschool their kids, I’ll be all for it, and I’ll help them too, if I’m not in Thailand.

    Go for it!

    • I used to threaten my oldest daughter with making her go to Ninilchik school…and then I ended up moving here, putting my other kids in…and loving it! haha..I WISH I had followed through with my threats!

  46. lynn says:

    Wow, what a wonderful story about you and your kids. I hope home schooling is a great adventure for you all.  You sound like an awesome mom.

  47. carla says:

    I loved this post! What a great, thoughtful mom! Your kids are all very lucky!

  48. Cyndey4 says:

    What you are doing has a name and it is termed “unschooling” and so many kids benefit. Knowing some of your history and seeing the kids at school, you all will shine because of this. My heart goes out to you all.

    Good luck and may God be your patience, provider and proctor.

    • CarolynC says:

      Actually “unschooling” is a form of homeschooling where you DON’T use a set curriculum.  I do this with my son, he flits from subject to subject, sometimes hourly and goes through the info at a pace he is comfortable with.  The only subject we use a curriculum for is math.  Everything else is just “spur of the moment”. 

      Because I don’t restrict him to the grade 5 curriculum, he’s learned to bake a rhubarb pie (learning about the plant, the chemistry of baking, and fractions) while having fun; he’s presently memorizing the entire periodic table because it’s interesting; and he’s discovering the fun adverbs and adjectives can be. 

      The other types of homeschooling are:  literature based; unit studies; classical; relaxed; Montessori; Charlotte Mason; and a few other that I can’t remember right now.

      And I’ll get off my soapbox now… 😉

  49. Kara C says:

    Love Love Love!

  50. Sally says:

    You are awesome and I am glad you are going for it!! I have been wrestling with this decision for years and have been too timid to just do it. 
    Baby steps for me. I have told my 9 year old that he can be homeschool after Christmas if he decides that is what he really wants. The rest can stay in school because the younger ones like it and the older ones need it.
    I can’t wait to hear all about this new adventure!

  51. Hdp463 says:

    I commend you for what you are doing.  I have homeschooled my kids since 2002.  I still have 3 at home that I will continue to homeschool. 

  52. Shirley Braun says:

    I love this post so much!  So well put! 

  53. Jocelyn says:

    As a homeschool graduate and homeschool mom I thank you!  And honestly once you get into a good routine you won’t want to stop!  I think that is the main reason that breaks are so hard for public schooled families, everyone’s routine is messed up and it’s hard to change and adjust.  I think you are making a great choice!

  54. Skye (Matti) Cranor says:

    Good for you!  This is our second year homeschooling (kids are 13 & 11) and it has been a great decision for us.  We love the flexibility to take breaks when we want or need them – be it a day for a field trip or a longer time for a bigger trip.  The kids love being able to go at the pace that fits them.  I love that I am learning things right along with them!

  55. South Carolina says:

    We pulled our kids out of the public school system 3 years ago.  ~Because one was excelling and was unhappy with the slow pace of the classroom, and because the other was beyond behind his peers.  As parents, we got tired of the constant “labeling.”  “Your child is gifted…Your child must be ADD, must have a learning disability, etc.”  Bottom line: Neither of my boys were happy in the system, and because both my husband and I went through private schools years back, the public school system was a confusing maze for us.  Long story short, first we used an Online Charter school program here in our home.  That got our feet wet, and let us figure out the flow of things.  Now, because I didn’t like the curriculum, we are doing our own program, based on my oldest son’s strengths and weaknesses.  Our youngest son is still with the online charter school.  Next year, I hope to get him out of that and then the sky will be the limit as to what both boys are studying/learning/doing every day.
    You’re going to do fine.  Stop worrying about what people think, and just go with it.  I’ve found that both boys have relaxed, are no longer worried about what their peers think, and they both feel so much safer here with my husband and I.  Also, both boys are far more likely to delve into a subject that they’re really interested in!  ~Which makes me so happy!  “Learning” is no longer torture…it’s fun!
    God bless ya and all those kiddos!  =) 

  56. Lori Bisbee says:

    May God bless you and your family.  You are an inspiration

  57. Amy Tuggey says:

    Again, I am just going to put this out there, will you adopt me? I know I am 45, but I am short and I can blend in!!! 😀

    I  think you rare at the precipice of a GREAT adventure and I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read about it!

  58. Camilledery says:

    Good luck with your wonderful family and God’s Blessings heaped upon all of you

  59. Hayley says:

    Go you!  There are so many fun “outside the box” things you can do with homeschool.  So much life learning, and wonderful family memories.  

  60. Emily Ohland says:

    I too made a decision to take a home school parenting journey, with my daughter. We lasted through 3rd and 4th grade, as a teen she has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and I shudder to think how much worse she might have been if she had not had that time to thrive and be built up. Kudos to you, bless you and good luck, don’t base your decision  to continue or not on just one semester, it takes time to settle in and figure out what works best for YOU!!

  61. Rene Shepard says:

    Wish I had done this with my kids.

  62. Wonderfully written post, and I applaud your effort to do what is best for your kiddos. I am a fan of homeschooling and would love to do it myself, if I wasn’t personally so ill-equipped to do so. The purpose of a school is to teach a lot of kids general skills and information. Your recognition that is not working as well for your diversely talented kiddos should be applauded and supported, and the naysayers can go to H-E-double hockey stick. 🙂

  63. Mommyfaithe says:

    Good luck in your exciting new adventure. I have been homeschooling for 17 years. I can be done without them mom going utterly nuts! (maybe just a little, but aren’t we all?).

    Enjoy your new journey!

    Faithe

  64. Laura Wegener Paxton says:

    Can’t wait to read about the homeschooling adventures!  We homeschooled for 4 years, and loved it, and our children are back in public schools, and we love it there, too.  Some days I miss the freedom homeschooling allows….and the relaxed pace of life as homeschoolers.  This is such a well-worded piece…best of luck in your endeavor!

  65. I have homeschooled ( really unschooled )  my DD and DS for the last 6 years. My 16 yr old DD wanted to go to B&M high school this year so she found a small charter school ( yes , I made her do the research). She has not taken a “test” in 6 years but made the highest score on a state mandated test to graduate. I did not MAKE her do school, she just wanted to study certain subjects. She is an avid reader and thought she wasn’t good in math but proved herself wrong. This with NO formal “we are doing school”. She is taking Geometry and Algebra II at the same time and making A’s.
    My son is dyslexic and has never read a novel all by himself ( he is 13). But he has listened to many novels borrowed from the library . He has a great vocabulary even if he can’t spell (but then neither can I). .He can not write a paragraph without help….but he can do Algebra in his head and tell you all you want to know about most any topic in the science world.   He wants to go to B&M High school next year. Will I let him?, I don’t know yet.

    Just to add one more element…My husband and I were working part and full time during all this. Was every thing bright and rosey…no not always. Did we have time as a family to have dinner, hang out, have down time….yep! If we had random days off could we take off and have a family day going to the zoo or shopping….yep.

    I miss our freedom having DD in a structured school . But the bottom line is what is right for the individual child. Will a B&M school be right for DS ? He thinks so…me, I’m not so sure. But no matter which way it goes I know that I have connected with my children over these 6 yrs in a way I couldn’t have if they had not been schooled at home.
    How do I know this?   Because their sister, who is now 28, went to public school . I know the difference.

    Backwoods, you will love the freedom and you will see the difference! You do what your heart tells you and you can’t go wrong!

  66. Debbie Sercely says:

    Best of luck to you!  That’s quite a challenge you’re taking on.  But I know YOU CAN DO IT!  🙂  Do keep us posted.  My husband and I are talking about homeschooling ours (Baby #1 is due in February, so we have some time still, LOL).  Big hugs for you, wonderful lady.  🙂

  67. Joy says:

    I personally have no skill or want home school  but I also have children with issues and work with the school and the kids to do as much or as little as the kids need…… I often send in a note that says such and such wasn’t done because “life got in the way” and never bothered if it was the wrong thing to do……… 
    I love the description of the “Wiggle” …… I have 2 that do that and at the beginning of the year I warn all teachers I don’t want “has trouble concentrating on reports, it is called ADD”……… Email has read receipts so I know they get them then I put it back on the teachers. 
    My kids do go to a private school and I have been blessed that most of the teachers have been brilliant….. but I am the one who fights for them, I know them faults and all and we just work around stuff…….. Lots of extra stuff for me but so worth it… 
    I am sure that without the confines of 9-3 school each day your family will thrive and you will be so much better off…… xxx

  68. LSF says:

    you and your family have to decide what is best and what works with what you plan.  no one should ever judge your abilities  — shame on those who do.  i have always loved your attitude and loved reading how you raise your family, amazing you share it with us.   they are so lucky to now have the parents they do.  not only will they have the brain smarts like the other students but they will also gain the life skills they need to be successful to live on their own one day.  the schedule you describe it what we have too….after this year I have two left to graduate…and then the schedule will change again…so I love every bit of time I can spend with mine that i can.   you have left your options open on the homeschooling/public school and recognize that what you need to do now is what is needed for your family.  not many are able to do this and you are blessed that you can!!  you’ve got the right attitude going in to this next adventure of life!!

  69. Esty E. says:

    My sister and cousin have both done online homeschooling since they both had trouble when they were in public schools, and they both have thrived! My cousin graduated last year and is now in college and my sister is in her final year of high school and is also doing great. The free program they have been with is through National Connections Academy and I have really been impressed with it. I plan to enroll my son when he begins school, too. They offer the classes, teacher guidance, and even field trips and group activities, allowing a connection with other home/online schoolers.

    By the way, I just found your blog and I love it! You have a way with words and I already think you are an amazing person and mom, and your writing is so poignant and I truly enjoy it! Good luck on this new adventure!!!

  70. Wilson_suzz says:

    Best wishes.  You have a ton of options for programs and materials.  Raven, Connections, Cyberlynx, IDEA (from Delta I think), on and on.
    good luck

  71. Sarah Sterns says:

    I loved all that you had to say! You can do this and will love it for all the reasons you just said! It works for us here in the North Pole. Enjoy your trip down south!

  72. Cynthia says:

    I admire your courage, I couldn’t do it but believe that for some kids it’s the way to go. Your kids are blessed to have you.

  73. Barbara says:

    I hope you know how much I’m going to miss my three.

    • Barbara…let’s make a deal.  When you finish up teaching at the school each day, just swing by my house and teach them some history!  You get your fix, and I don’t have to do it!   BTW, I got Robin, Mya and Anthony a wonderful history program called, “Story Of The World”…it is set up like an actual story.  Anthony just took his to bed to read it…for fun.  He’ll probably finish by tomorrow and he can just teach it to the girls! hahahaha

      • Shirley Braun says:

        I’m homeschooling a kindergartner and I also have a preschooler and a 2 yr old.  I’m trying to decide what to do about history.  My husband is going to school to get his degree in history to be a teacher.  So he could totally handle all history lessons…but I can’t necessarily count on him to be home enough to have the time to teach enough to our own kids. 
        I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Story of the World.  Maybe I’ll go check it out now!

      • Kara C says:

        Story Of The World is fabulous!  You’ll love it – also check out K12.com their history is almost identical to Story Of The World but more digital 🙂

        • I was on that site just the other day…thanks!

        • anne says:

          I used K12 for my granddaughter for grades 9-11.  She was a mental wreck after coming out of a less than good family situation.  I couldn’t imagine putting her into the public school system while she was is such a mess.  We loved the program and would highly recommend it to others.  We moved to another state for lher senior year and she finished in public school and graduated as an honor grauduate.  I loved homeschooling and it seemed to work for us. 

      • Tyoung74 says:

        There is also a program called “A Child’s History of the World” from Calvert education.  It is very good and both my girls loved it!!  

  74. Laura says:

    Yay for you!    I know we need a public school system, but I think it should be the school system’s goal to teach itself out of a job.  That is, make it so that every future parent is going to be able to take the  responsibility for their own child’s learning, with the help of other parents and curriculum put together by other experts.  I realize it’s a lofty goal, but setting the standard high is the only way to achieve new heights.

  75. April Collins says:

    I LOVE this, along with just about everything else you say. It has not been easy, it has not been what I thought, it may not even have been “productive” but taking my son out of the race of public school has made him happy, deeply in his soul happy. I won’t trade that for anything. I am new to this homeschooling thing, but you totally have my support. 

  76. Things have changed a lot since I was in school.  I mean homeschool…. I think I turned out just fine.  Kids have so many opportunities to stay involved in public school sports and music or whatever if they want these days, you as a parent can decide just how much away-from-home time you want them to have.  Every kid is different though and you might find a couple of them really, really want to go back to “real school.”  I think what you are doing is wonderful and I wish you good luck! 

  77. Currently homeschooling my three girls and for many of the reasons you have stated. There will be days you understand why some animals consume their young. Other days the light bulbs will be going off and you will be riding high. Take it one day at a time and you will do great. 

  78. Jenny says:

      I started homeschooling my oldest daughter this year for many of the reasons you mentioned above!  She is only in kindergarten but it is so amazing to watch her learn.  Hearing her read her first scentence was like watching my babies take their first steps.  The days aren’t always easy (and I’m only dealing with a 5 year old) but I think it is deffinately worth the work!!  Good luck and I hope you have an amazing journey with your family! 😀

  79. lois says:

    Bravo to you!!

  80. Sharen M says:

    As a public school teacher, now retired, I 1000% support your decision and for all the reasons you give. . . and more.  I wish homeschooling had been possible when my two were in school and I would have done it.  I can think of so many things in our (and their) lives that would be different in a good way.  As I have read your posts about the things you are doing with your kids already, I kept thinking,”Man, they are learning more by helping to build that house or. . .(whatever else you all were doing at the time) , than they ever will learn in school.  Too bad they have to stop to go to school every day.”  I know from experience that kids can learn what they need to learn in about 1/2 the time that they are in school if they have one on one attention and if they didn’t have all the interruptions of discipline issues and other things that come up and if they don’t have to spend a week “covering” a topic that they have proven to you that they got in the first lesson just so the teachers can make sure everyone “gets it” and they can do so much more hands on learning which really fires up those neurons in the brain.  I am happy for your children. 

    Are there Home School co-ops there for sports, proms, graduations, & enrichment opportunities, etc.?  

    Don’t get me wrong, I do support the public schools and  the school  improvement drive that we are on because I know that for some kids the public schools are sometimes their only salvation from an otherwise drab and/or horrible life and is a safe place they can go every day where people care about them sometimes more than their own care takers.  It was really heartbreaking to have little kids cry at the end of the year because they didn’t want to be home all summer.

    • Your last line killed me…I’ve never thought about that aspect…we do have LOTS of home school groups in my area, as we are so backwoods that many people make that choice.  It’s fairly common…so I’m sure I’ll find other kids home during the day we can  hang out with a bit. 

      • Betseyknox says:

        My son just sent me your blog site. I’m a Ninilchik homeschool mom of 8 ( only 2 left at home) and I would like to meet you and your family some day.  We have a homeschool chapel that meets once a month at our church, where the kids can give presentations on things they’re learning and do some learning bees.  It’s a great group of kids.  Let me know if you would be interested in coming and I’ll put you on the mailing list to let you know the next meeting time.

  81. Athena471 says:

    I homeschool my two boys (7 and 6), and it’s AWESOME…most days.  I agree with all your reasons.  And I didn’t settle on homeschool for lack of trying mainstream education.  My boys have been in 10 different schools between them and they thrive in homeschool.  They both have learning differences (my older child has Aspergers and my younger child has ADHD), and at home, I’m able to give them one on one attention.  I go through an online virtual public school (K12), which gives me the best of both worlds.  I get preplanned lessons and a teacher’s guidance, but I get to do school on MY schedule.  It works for us.  Good luck to you and give me a jingle if you want some support.  🙂

    Michelle
    athena471@gmail.com

  82. I agree with the way you did it…if it is not a good fit for THEM, we will definitely change. I am in a program that requires state testing, etc….because my kids want to play sports.  But that’s okay…because I plan to teach them well enough to pass! hhhahaa…crossing my fingers!

  83. I agree with the way you did it…if it is not a good fit for THEM, we will definitely change. I am in a program that requires state testing, etc….because my kids want to play sports.  But that’s okay…because I plan to teach them well enough to pass! hhhahaa…crossing my fingers!

  84. Caroline says:

    Last year I  home schooled my two children. It was a lot of work. I did follow the government outline program and had to have the children’s work handed in by a certain deadline and marked by a Teacher. All thou it was exhausting I loved knowing what they were learning and helping them. I also loved having them home. They both decided it wasn’t for them and now attend school and you know what I miss them! Good luck to you and I hope you and the children enjoy it!  A short time is all we have with our kids and then they are off to enjoy the world. 

  85. Zenmom79 says:

    I think it’s awesome you are going to homeschooling.  My kids have never gone to public school . I has been the most incredible journey I have ever been on!

  86. thats a very beautifully worded piece..and you should pat yourself on the back ..even if you do end up running down the road screaming.Impressive..! yah you ..so much love and hope. big ups!!

    • It won’t be the first time I’ve run down the road…or the last! ha

      • Jay says:

        You just run down the road because it’s the only place that’s plowed!

        Seriously, I think that homeschooling this is the greatest idea for so many kids because school can be a trial for those who don’t fit the average mould. Your kids are so lucky to have come to your family . I am confident that this adventure will be to their benefit and I wish you patience and good luck.

  87. Night Rider says:

    Well that’s pretty much proof that you are completely around the bend. Did you fall off the roof of the new cabin and forget to tell us?

    All kidding aside, I feel confident that if anyone can pull this off, you can. And I really like the reasons you gave for doing it. The worst thing in the world for a child is to be bored. yet teachers now have to teach to the lowest common denominator. Where does this leave the kids who learn faster, who comprehend things better? And it doesn’t do the kids who have problems any favors. They get frustrated seeing classmates who seem to grasp things with no effort, while they struggle for every inch they gain. There is so much information crammed onto kids these days it is appalling. Instead of getting a good foundation in math and english, and building on that, they just back up a truck and dump it all on them. What good does teaching geometry to a sixth grader do, if they can’t add, subtract, multiply and divide?

    Anyway, good for you. You’ll be fine. Anyone who can knock out 24 credits in one year to finish their degree, should be able to teach a bunch of rowdy yahoos their three R’s, with a little time left over for the important stuff, like enjoying being a kid……and a mom.

    Rock on….

    • Everything I’ve ever done feels like it was working up to this time in my life…preparing me for battle! hahahaha
      You are so right…on the “lowest common denominator”…it’s a big problem and the teachers are stuck with what they are stuck with.  They do their best…with 25 kids in two different grade levels and all possible levels of ability…to teach these kids. It’s simply not possible, no matter how great of a teacher they are, to get to each ones level to get the information across. And then, every time they turn around, the government triples their load.   The math just doesn’t work on that one…

  88. Severt Lori says:

    I’m a public school educator and I wish I could home school my daughter.  I’m tired of the testing, the pace that keeps all of my students from doing their best, the ridiculous amount of time that we expect children to spend on homework when they should be spending time having conversations with their families, playing games, playing outdoors with friends.

    You are amazing for taking on the task of home-schooling 6 children but I’m jealous of the fact that you are able to do it—you and your husband are quite a team in order to make it all work!

    I’m looking forward to hearing updates about how you’re managing and how your children feel about home schooling.

    • Lori, that says a lot coming from a teacher.  I have a BIG problem with assigned homework.  Not if my kid didn’t do their work in class…that is not the same things.  But assigned homework because the load is so big that the teacher can’t even get it all in and has to assign things over weekends and holidays…that drives me crazy.  The problem is, kids have been mandated to death.  My kid need FAMILY time…not a book report to do.  And it’s not even the teachers…they are just stuck being the bad guy!

    • Andromedastar1 says:

      Homework is ridiculous these days-especially when it is assigned over breaks-it is a BREAK!!!! Fortunately my daughter could get finished pretty fast, but I have heard so many nightmare stories from other families!! I always thought kids could get finished in half the time during a school day, but with so many parents working, where would the children go if they weren’t at school?? Fortunately, we arranged our lives so I could be home full time, and there are times when I wish I would have home-schooled, but everything turned out great and she is a thriving 19 year old!! Best of luck, backwoods Mom with your homeschooling endeavor, I think you will love the extra travel time etc.

  89. Lola Medders says:

    You are the best teacher for your children.

    • Thanks, LOLA!  I love being back in touch with people like you…who affected my childhood in ways you will never fully understand.  People like you…who volunteered to be there for children like myself… irreplaceable!

  90. Krissy Basham says:

    You crack me up with your writing! I think you rock for making your kids education and family time a priority! Way to go!

    • I actually rewrote this blog three times today…and the first two just didn’t click with me. And then I was like, “OH, it’s not funny!”  So I changed the tone…glad it worked! 

  91. Kim T. says:

    I wish you all the luck in the world. I know I couldn’t do it but also agree with everything you said. I have a child that may not make it through high school because of o few of the issues you mentioned.
    May the gods smile on your family!

    • Charleen says:

      Thank you!!!  I also want to thank the ppl who replied.  There are great perspectives here that I so wish more parents would consider and respect. 

      Again, thank you!

  92. Betty Green says:

    Fantastic, backiewoodie—you go girl.  You’ve got the right idea but I could never achieve your goals if I only tried to home school one student.  Your children will succeed where some in a classroom setting will not.
    Good basics and longevity to you!  God Bless you!  You will be in a whole lot of people’s prayers.

  93. You are an awesome parent.

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