By Alicia Arseneault
First, let me say this: I don’t wear skirts down to my ankles; I don’t have goats or chickens, or milk my own cows. I do from time-to-time make my own bread but basically I am a yoga-pants-wearing, Big Mac loving, “ok, have the sugary cereal”, mom of four children who often has days where I want to rip my hair out…. but I home school my four children. That’s right, they’re home 24 hours a day, 7 days and week and – I never thought I would say this – I LOVE IT!
We made the decision to home school after our fifth child, our son Elijah, was born stillborn. I never got to hear him laugh, watch him take his first steps, or make him his Halloween costume. This tragic event caused me to realize how little time we actually have with our children. From the time we’d wake up, get dressed, pack lunches, rush out of the house, get to school, pick them up, make dinner, help with homework, have baths, sign tests, and tuck them in bed – How much quality time were we actually having with them? Did I really need to send them to school for 7 hours of the day only to come home and do an hour or more of homework on what is supposed to be family time? Why is it that for some reason we believe that as soon as our child turns four years old, society indirectly tells us that we are no longer capable to “teach” our children? Do we actually realize that by the time they are four years old we’ve potty trained them, taught them to walk, to tie their shoes, to zip up their coats, to use their manners, to use a fork, to drink from a cup, taught them numbers and ABC’s, taught them about hot and cold, about Summer and Winter, about sharing, loving one another, and so much much more? What makes us think we can’t continue to? I was challenged. I began looking into homeschooling and the common fears that go with it. Studies have proven that children who’d been homeschooled are happier, confident, and ahead of many of their peers educationally, as well as huge contributors to the good of society. If you’re feeling tugged at the heart, do your research, and many of the persistent and unfounded rumors will be squashed. I recommend “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling” By: Lisa Whelchel. A great read for homeschooling-curious parent.
By no means am I one of those homeschoolers who would say that other parents are making the wrong decision to have their child in a public or private school. In fact, we’ve had our children in public and private school and had basically good experiences and, at that time in our lives, it was the right decision for our family. I think that there are many homeschoolers who home school their children for the wrong reasons as well as families that mistakenly use the public education or private education system simply because they don’t think they are qualified to teach their children. With every family dynamic there are different variables and perhaps you need to return to work and homeschooling isn’t a possibility. I am merely trying to say that don’t throw out the idea simply because you don’t feel qualified. You’re your child’s mother and that’s enough qualification in itself.
Since our homeschooling journey began, I have been awestruck of how much our family has bonded, learned to care about the other, and our days are so much more relaxing and enjoyable rather than the rush-out-the-door while making-three-lunches and “hey you put on your mitts! and “where is your history project” morning Who knows, in a few years and as our family changes, there might be a need for another change but for now I love watching my kids learn and seeing that sparkle in their eye when they’ve mastered a concept – it’s as glorious as it is watching them take their first steps.