When I began homeschooling Henry, I had a succinct quick answer to the "Why?" face I would get when we mentioned homeschooling. I often just blamed it on his food allergies because it was easy, and a little true. It was only one small piece of the giant puzzle that makes him an unlikely candidate for successfully schooling outside of the home, but it's hard to argue with and allowed the conversation to move forward.
After I realized that it was unhealthy for me to let him think that his food allergies are keeping him from school, or anything for that matter, I would answer, "we like the flexibility and he's a quirky guy so this just works better for him." People didn't usually press on that answer either, so I used it whenever I needed to, and avoided the uncomfortable conversation that often follows any mention of him being gifted and also having special needs.
Georgia & Miles don't have the special needs that their big brother does. They are bright kids, who in the right program, could thrive in a school setting. Yet, we are homeschooling. The answer to why is so much longer and more involved with them. It's not because I don't think school will work for them, it's that I think home will work better for them. What? That is a totally arrogant thing for me to say. Who am I to think that I know better than the educators that have been serving our schools and children for 100 years?
Well, it's because I see it. I see it working with Henry and we love the life he gets to lead because of the freedom of homeschooling. He has so much free time to explore what interests him. He reads tons of books, because he has lots of time. He doesn't go to school until 3, have an after school activity and then homework for 2 hours or more like other kids we know in school. I can teach to his strengths and his weaknesses. We have extra time to dive deep into topics that light him up, and also to work on skills that he needs extra help with. (Without the singling out that can happen in a classroom.)
I've had to answer the question of where my kids go to school a lot more than I ever have because I now have a part-time job out of the home. (AKA I'm around regular adults more.) Most people are intrigued at the very least, and at maybe, probably, at least a tiny bit, horrified. I get it, I really do. When you aren't used to spending 24/7 with your kids, it sounds like a really crazy thing to volunteer for. It's also a big huge job, and one that I could get someone else to do so I can earn a real income or just have 5 hours to do all of the household chores I currently ignore. I have found myself getting defensive again, since this decision is kind of fresh, and maybe I'm still a little unsure about it. I know that I don't need to defend myself to others, we all do what we think is best, or at least the best we are capable of at the moment. But, it's hard sometimes being so "counter-cultural." Most of the time I don't mind not fitting in, but with this mom gig, I greatly want to commiserate with, and support (as well as be supported by) other moms. I understand that we are doing something that's still way out of the ordinary, so I appreciate when people at least feign support. It helps me to not run away the next time someone asks where my kids go to school.
It's definitely been harder than I thought it would to add 2 more children to our home school. We've been going for almost a month and we are just now getting into a routine that doesn't involve me raising my voice and then retreating into my "fake that I'm not going crazy" persona. I have the gift of experience to know that it's worth it to trudge through the tough parts because it pays in dividends. New routines will take hold and it will feel easier. Then the season changes and we start over. Nothing in parenting is static.
I never saw myself as a person who would even consider homeschooling. Now, I can't imagine anything better for my kids. Whenever a new school enters my radar, I get excited and start researching. I even visit schools now and then to make sure I'm still doing what is right for my kids. So far, although the schools are great, they are still a compromise to what my kids get at home. Eventually I expect the compromise to shrink, and maybe even go away in favor of outside of the house schooling. I would love to find a challenging, but not stifling high school environment for all of the kids when the time comes. For now though, this is where we are, and what feels right to all of us. We reevaluate on a yearly basis officially, and unofficially I reevaluate daily, right around the time Henry starts his pre-algebra work. So far we are all still on board, including my husband, who listens to some version of this blog post on a daily basis.
The book Georgia is reading in the picture is This Is My Home, This Is My School by Jonathan Bean. It's a must have for anyone homeschooling young kids.