Why We Homeschool

This was originally published on September 5, 2011.

Tonight is "Back to School Eve" in our town. And as such it seems like it's the perfect time to finally share "our story" with everyone (or at least everyone who doesn't already know it, that is). The story on how we became an homeschooling family begins five years ago, in a hospital room in Newton Massachusetts on a warm July night. This sweet little being came into the world, was placed in my arms and instantly my world made sense. I always knew I wanted to be a mama, and after eighteen months of infertility and forty-one weeks of pregnancy I was finally getting the chance. I remember looking at this sweet baby girl and thinking "I am so not going to want to give her up (to the schools) in five years."
Our days were incredibly blissful. Grace and David and I were a fabulous trio right from the start. Our little family of three delighted in our world and all the experiences we shared together. She and I were each others greatest sidekicks, going on many wonderful adventures from the very start. A few short months after Grace was born, a tragedy occurred that literally rocked me to my core. It was a beautiful autumn day, and as I sat feeding this sweet newborn girl, word was getting out of the tragic Amish school shooting. No sooner did the reporter finish her first sentence than the tears started streaming down my face. The Amish? Really? What is this world coming to? And it was then that I dialed my mom (who was also shocked over this terrible news) and said to her: "Don't be surprised when we homeschool our children." Truer words were never spoken (even if they were the words of a mama twelve weeks postpartum).
Our days continued as blissfully as they began. And a couple of months before Grace turned one I found out I was pregnant again. We began to make plans for the new little life that would be joining us earthside in early 2008. And still I could not imagine a day that was not spent with my girl (and her soon to be little sibling). How could I possibly not be there to witness all sorts of wonderful things she has learned after being there for everything else?
Emma arrived February 21, 2008 and our family of three easily became a family of four. Life with two that much under two was certainly an adventure and it is one that looking back on I would do again in a heartbeat. We quickly learned how different two littles from the same parents could be, and we quickly saw how two sisters could instantly become best friends. Once we got the sleeping arrangements worked out, life started to fall into place and soon enough the three of us girls were off on many wonderful adventures together. All the while learning from the worlds classroom.
I was never one of those mamas that counted the minutes until she was free of her children. I was not one of those mama's that (even on the worst of days) counted the days until I could send them to school. I started to feel as if I was the only mama that ever felt this way. That I was the only mama who would get a pit in her stomach at the mear thougtht of sending her littles off to school. The more I thought about homeschooling the more I wanted to be part of that world. One day, my mom called me up and shared with me that she had gotten to chat with their neighbors and it was then that she learned that this was a family of "life learners". And somehow it came up during that conversation that we were toying with it. MamaK graciously gave my Mom the link to her blog and Mom passed it on to me. As soon as I got off the phone I made a bee-line to the computer, typed in the address, and proceeded to spend the next few hours pouring over Frog Creek , meeting the HeartRockin' Family, enjoying a little Ordinary Life Magic and Sweet Home Days and discovering the beauty and slow paced days of SouleMama. All I kept thinking was: "there are others like us!" I couldn't believe it! I don't know if any of the mama's who write the blogs mentioned above realize what an impact they had on our world, but I can honestly say that it was because of that community of mama bloggers that we have blossomed into the family we are today. 
The more I surfed the net, the more blogs I discovered, the more I kept thinking about how we fit in this world better than we do the traditionally schooling world. Pre-girls I had been a Special Education teacher. Anyone that gets in the field of education will tell you that you do it to make a difference. It's the reason that I got into the field. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to inspire the students. To instill in them a love of learning. And sadly, with each passing year our hands as teachers are tied more and more. There are amazing teachers in our classrooms dear ones, and more and more often they are not being allowed to teach the way they want to. More and more the focus is on test scores instead of teachable moments. The more I thought about how I did not agree with the focus on test scores, the more I thought about how broken our educational system is, the more I realized that I would be a hypocrite of an educator to send my children into a situation that I did not whole heartedly support or believe in.
But yet, we still made the decision to send Grace to preschool. And while I was not in love with it ("how do people get out the door five mornings a week and I can't even handle two?" I would often ask my Mom) we did it anyway. We soldiered through the first year and while I totally felt like we were the black sheep of the preschool world we made it through. The moms that first year spent more time fussing and worrying about what their children would be doing the following year than they spent being focused on the current year. To me, preschool is not supposed to be stressful. You should go, sing songs, have a snack, make a craft, hear a story and play outside. It was because of this belief, in what preschool should be, that we even sent her in the first place. This preschool however was way too academic in nature (have I told you that she had weekly homework last year?!) and if we are really honest was not a good fit for our girl who is way more about fairies and playing outside and baking than anything else! We should have pulled her out that year when the word "homework" was first mentioned, but against my better judgement we didn't. It is the one area I have allowed myself to have any "Mommy Guilt" about. Generally I make it a practice not to have "Mommy Guilt". Honestly, it does not do anyone any good. The key is to confidently make the decision that is right for you, your child and your family. If your decisions are based on what is right for those categories "Mommy Guilt" will very rarely (if ever happen). And sadly, I must report that I chose to ignore my gut and instead solider through an otherwise less than desirable situation for all involved. The good news is that this preschool experience served to confirm for us (a million times over) what we already knew: we were an homeschooling family. We had been since the day that this sweet being came into our lives. It's how we roll. It's what makes us happy.
So, here we are on what would be the night before her first night of kindergarten if we had made the decision to traditionally school her. Here we are with two sweet little girls nestled in their bed sound asleep dreaming of all the wonderful adventures we will have together in the coming days and years. We love using the world as our classroom and seeing where each day takes us. Simply put we just love being together! 

Emma attended preschool during the 2011-2012 school year but at a totally different school from where Grace went (and a place that I truly wish we had sent Grace to). Em was part of the Crickets class at the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool. She spent her Tuesday and Thursday afternoons collecting chicken eggs, milking cows, playing with pigs, digging in the dirt, planting, harvesting, baking and going on nature walks. Her preschool experience was rather similar (minus the farm animals) to the way she has always learned and the way that we have always lived. 

We love to use the world as our classroom and see where each of our days take us (though there surely is a distinct rhythm to each of our days).  We love the freedom that comes with this amazing lifestyle ('cause really, it truly is a lifestyle). We love following the girls lead and seeing where it takes us.  In the words of Grace: "I love that we homeschool, mama! It's the best life ever!" And I have to agree. I am so glad that we will be continuing this amazing journey. A journey we have been on for six years now and one that we will continue as long as the girls want to.
For an update click here and here and here.