Why Our Family Chose Home Education

I was going to share a picture of my daughter finishing up school work today (which happens to be a Saturday) on Facebook, but the length of the post kept growing. I decided to take the opportunity to turn what I was wanting to say into a blog series, instead.

Each school year, I have a couple of friends approach me with an interest in homeschooling. They usually have general questions about how to start homeschooling, what homeschooling is supposed to look like, questions about curriculum, and some are curious about why we have chosen home education while sharing their own reasons for exploring the idea of homeschooling.

This blog series is intended to help those who are thinking about homeschooling or already homeschooling but may need some motivation or reassurance to keep going; to keep “fighting the good fight.”

I’d like to say “Welcome!” to the first blog post in my new “Why We Homeschool” series. My first post will cover why we initially decided to homeschool and what our average day/week looked like BEFORE we took a leap of faith into the wonderful world of home education.

Here goes! Today I snapped a picture of my daughter who was writing dictation words for a language arts lesson that we didn’t quite finish earlier this week. The picture made me think about all the reasons why we chose to homeschool five years ago. One of those reasons? F.l.e.x.i.b.i.l.i.t.y. The flexibility that homeschooling has provided our family has been one of the greatest blessings of our lives. We have flexibility in when we homeschool and how we homeschool.

Bit of a back story: My husband is a firefighter and fire instructor who teaches all across the state. He usually works 24 hours on, 48 hours off at the fire station (and that’s on a good week). He periodically (more often than not) has to work mandatory overtime shifts, which turns his work schedule into 48 hours on, 24 hours off at the fire station. He averages teaching anywhere from three to seven classes a month on top of his regular fire schedule. Five years ago, our daughter attended public school pre-kindergarten and I taught third grade in our local school district.

Here’s a glimpse into what our life looked like before we ventured down the path of home education.

Monday: My husband would leave for his 24-hour shift at the same time my daughter and I left for school. Note: My daughter and I would be at school on average from 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. each day.

Tuesday: My daughter and I would leave for school before my husband made it home from his 24-hour work shift. We would make it home from school around 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. We would have approximately 4 or 5 hours together as a family before bedtime.

Wednesday: My daughter and I would see my husband for a short time before leaving for school. Again, we would make it home around 4:00 or 4:30 p.m., and we would have another 4 or 5 hours together as a family before bedtime.

Thursday: We would have a very short time together before leaving the house and heading our separate ways. My husband was heading into the fire station for his next 24-hour shift, while my daughter and I headed off to school.

Friday: This day was basically a repeat of Tuesday. My daughter and I would leave for school before my husband made it home from his 24-hour work shift. We would make it home from school around 4:00 or 4:30 p.m. We would have approximately 4 or 5 hours together as a family before bedtime.

Let’s add up the family time we were able to have in that five-day period. From Monday morning (before school) to Friday evening (bedtime), our family had a total of 12-15 hours of quality time together! And calling it “quality” time is a bit of a stretch because most evenings were filled with planning lessons, grading papers, homework, and preparing for another stressful day in the classroom. My heart aches when I think about all of the quality time we missed together as a family.

NOW. Take that same five-day example, and imagine that on Tuesday my husband came up for mandatory overtime. The 4 or 5 hours of family time on Tuesday evening before bedtime would go away and in that same five-day period our family time would go from 12-15 hours to 8-10 hours (in FIVE days!). This also meant that my husband would barely see our daughter on Monday morning before his shift and before her school day and wouldn’t see her again until Wednesday around 4:00 or 4:30 p.m.

We did this for an entire year before we decided there had to be a better option. That better option turned out to be home education. The flexibility that homeschooling has brought our family is immeasurable. We decide when we do school. Sometimes it means we double up on lessons when my husband is on shift so that we can have a family day on his day off of work. Sometimes it means catching up on school work on a Saturday while my husband is working or teaching because we took a day or half-day off of school during the week.

The beauty of homeschooling is that it does not have to model the traditional school week. We don’t have to school Monday through Friday if that’s not what’s best for our family. We can school from Tuesday through Saturday or any other combination of days if needed. We can also choose a four-day school week or year-round schooling (school through summertime but more breaks throughout the year).

Everyone’s family dynamics and needs differ from the next. If home education is something that you have been thinking about then I would like to encourage you to jot down the reasons why you are considering it. Keep those reasons close and available for you to refer back to as you go through the process of deciding what educational option is best for your family. For us, the lack of quality family time we were experiencing was one of our main reasons for homeschooling.

You can subscribe (click the pink Subscribe button) to my email list below to be notified when my next blog post in my “Why We Homeschool” series is published. My next post will be all about the freedoms we have as a family now that we homeschool.