My youngest started his senior year of high school earlier this month. After years of homeschooling both boys, our homeschool journey will come to an end in just a few months.
In 2007, when we started homeschooling our oldest son at five years old, we were the only homeschool family in our church. Many people were supportive. Others were skeptical. When people at my job found out we’d decided to homeschool, I was met with harsh criticism. We were repeatedly told what a huge mistake we were making and that our kids would always be behind their traditional school peers. I was told my boys would never go to college or be successful because they were homeschooled. I was shocked by some of the open hostility I faced.
At the time, homeschooling was beginning to grow in popularity and laws were beginning to change. Where homeschoolers once had to get a GED after graduation, colleges were beginning to recognize homeschool diplomas and even seek out homeschool students. We did our research, bought a full curriculum that covered all the major subjects, found a homeschool co-op to join, and dove in with our oldest son, who had turned five just a few months before.
Within a few years, we saw a dramatic shift. We went from the only homeschool family in the church to one of many. At one point, half of our church families with school-age children were homeschooling. Some of the skeptics began to change their minds as they saw how how the homeschoolers in our church did. People also realized that many of the stigmas surrounding homeschool, like kids being “unsocialized,” were simply not true.
Now, fourteen years later, with only months left, I’m so glad we homeschooled. Our oldest graduated a year early and will finish his associate’s degree in December. He’s made one B in college. The rest were A’s. In January he will change to another nearby college to finish his bachelor’s degree, then his master’s. Our youngest is on track to graduate high school a year early with a few college classes already done. He’s told us his goal is to have his PhD by the time he’s thirty.
It wasn’t always easy, and I’ll be the first to say homeschool isn’t right for everyone, but there are so many things I loved about homeschooling. Some of the highlights for us:
1. More family time
Pastors don’t work on an 8-5 daily schedule. Ministry is unpredictable and doesn’t follow normal routines. Add in a mom who worked weird hours for many years, and you have a really crazy schedule. If our kids had followed a traditional school routine, we would have had very little family time.
For most of our married life, we’ve lived hours away from the closest family. If we wanted to go to a ministry conference, our only option was to take the boys. Homeschooling allowed us to work the boys’ school around our trips. It was a great experience for all of us.
Another plus: We love vacationing in the off season. It’s more affordable and less crowded. Homeschooling gave us the opportunity to do that.
3. Real world experience
My boys frequently went on hospital and nursing home visits with their dad. They went to the bank and the post office and the DMV. They watched major construction projects at our church and major renovations at our home. They learned about so many real world experiences because they were home and involved in our day-to-day lives.
This was the concern almost everyone brought up: What about socialization? Aren’t they going to be isolated and socially backward?
Nothing could be further from the truth. My boys grew up involved in church, and they belonged to homeschool co-ops when they were younger. They also had the benefit of going everywhere with their dad as he worked. They interacted with its people of all ages and all walks of life. At a young age, they were able to carry on conversations with adults just as easily as they did with kids their own age.
Does homeschool work for every family? Absolutely not. But for ours, it was the best option. I’m so glad we didn’t listen to the critics. It’s bittersweet to see it end, but I’m so glad we took this journey with our boys