December 7, 2013

We're Considering Homeschooling

Since their birth, I have deeply felt the profound demands of my role as a mother and so have never seriously considered (or had interest in) adding to it the responsibility of personally delivering the boys' formal education. Always with an open mind, but also having little experience with homeschooling methods, I've held preconceived ideas and curiosities about the kind of family who chooses to homeschool, what motivates them, what their intentions are, what their learning days look like, and how the decision translates for their children in the short and long term.

With that said, Roscoe turns five in May and planning for the 2014 school year has been in the works for months already. We are confident that Roscoe should have a play kindergarten year versus an academic one. We submitted our application to Waldorf last month although interviews won't begin until after the New Year.

Recent conversations I've shared with a few mothers outside my circle, whose ideas, philosophies and perspectives on child-rearing (and life) I really respect, have sparked a sudden shift in my thinking on the subject of formal education. Given that 1. every kid has different emotional, developmental, and educational needs over time, and 2. every family unit has changing needs and priorities as a function of finances, proximity and access, career paths, childbearing, and more, it makes sense that a child's education doesn't have to be all or nothing whether public, private, or home school is chosen.

I'm learning that children from many families I know have experienced a mix of these educational models; weaving in and out in a nonlinear progression that reflects the needs and resources of their family at given points in time. With this mindset, to choose to homeschool feels less a commitment, and more an opportunity.

Our primary motivation to homeschool is the freedom and flexibility that our family would have to live, work, and learn together (we only have one short lifetime!) and the resources it would free up to do some serious traveling as a family throughout each year. 

The kindergarten year feels ideal to begin with, and the leap from play-based Waldorf to home-based learning doesn't feel that great. Maybe we'll love it, or need to tweak it (probably!), or learn that it's not for us. However it manifests, it's exciting to think about what the upcoming school year could be like for us with the river city as our classroom, taking advantage of the well established local homeschool network to support our learning, and then stepping out to explore the world together.

This year I've grown to love even more the Reggio-Emilia approach that the boys are engaged in at preschool, which highlights project based learning. If we decide to move in this direction, we would probably adopt that approach.

We are definitely in the exploratory phase of this inquiry, and right now I'm honestly working through my ambivalence on a range of topics and what-ifs that stem from this surprising change in heart. While I will attempt to figure out the biggest pieces, I am compelled to be bold in making decisions that feel right, knowing and trusting that we will figure it out as we go.

This could be the craziest idea we've had yet, or the most incredible, right?!

If you are considering homeschooling your kids, where is your process taking you? If you are a homeschooling mama do you have resources to share?

A few resources I've been pouring over:
The Camp Creek Blog: project-based homeschooling
Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring self directed learners
Virginia Homeschool Groups: Community groups for local support and collaboration
VaHomeschoolers: the organization of Virginia homeschoolers
The VaHomeschoolers Connection: the VaHomeschoolers blog
The Home School Legal Defense Association: learn the laws in your state

Other books on my radar:
Working in the Reggio Way
An Encounter with Reggio-Emilia: Children's Early Learning Made Visible 


  1. good luck with your decision! :)

    whether you decide to homeschool or not, feel free to join us on the PBH forum!

    1. Thanks! Your resources are incredibly helpful and I hope to link up with others who have more experience through the forum.

  2. What an exciting venture! I am very eager to hear more about your plans for homeschooling. I have always flirted with the idea of homeschooling, but with no background in education, I question my ability to be my children's primary source for schooling. For me, I fear that I would be doing them a disservice by homeschooling because I don't have the resources that schools do (beyond the traditional curriculum, they have music, art, PT, OT, etc…, not to mention the socialization aspect). Have you struggled with this at all? What helped you get past those sorts of fears? Also, how long do you plan to homeschool for? Sometimes I consider doing it just for the elementary years because I'd really like my children to be involved in extracurriculars with their classmates such as sports teams, clubs, band, etc when they are older…

    1. I share all the worries/fears you mention here, and many others! Although, the more I learn the less relevant they seem, which is making a lot of sense too. I'll write a post of my fears, it will be long :) But maybe my experience as I work through it will inspire others who have interest in knowing about all the educational choices that are available for our kids, and not just those that are most socially accepted or well understood. I'm realizing that there is not a lot of transparency when it comes to education, for us consumers. Here in Richmond there are so many private schools, a few alternative schools, lots of public schools including a lottery and a science/art charter school. Many of the parents in my circles are just as bewildered and unsure as I am about what is the best route.

      In this moment I'm really just looking one year ahead, because who knows how the experience will evolve, and how the kids will feel, or how I will fare! I'm trying not to think too far ahead because then it feels like a commitment...if I begin then I must continue...One of the (less important) things I've thought about is that it would be hard for me go "back to work" if I'm involved in schooling the kids, but that may be just another preconceived idea, and maybe I never want to work a conventional career again! In my mind, the middle school years would be a perfect opportunity to bring them back home, to protect them from the crazy, sexual, cruel, and hormonal experience I imagine it is now. Oy.

      As for socialization, I'm gathering that you don't do homeschooling alone. There are communities that you tap into in order to complement the learning happening at home. So children who are homeschooled get the benefit of collaborating with other kids their age, but also children younger and older than they are, other families, and many adults. I think the socialization aspect is a moot point for those who have been in the homeschooling communities long enough to know better.

      For content stuff, you can also hire tutors to supplement certain subjects like math, or government, or I was thinking Spanish. And you can develop opportunities to collaborate with local private schools to allow your kid to attend certain subjects or activities like math, science, or band in a traditional school environment but also allow them the flexibility to learn other things at home.

      Basically, It seems as if you can cultivate an incredible educational environment full of experiential learning, and spanning a broad range of activities and subjects, however it makes sense for your family. The more I learn the more excited I feel about the possibilities, but there are still those lingering thoughts of maybe the education won't be sufficient, or maybe I'll suck at this! Or he'll be deficient in some important aspect of life that will turn out terrible for him (probably not!) but there are plenty of things to stress about when I honestly know so little. But I'm hot on the trail so stay tuned! :)

  3. Oh wow, I never considered collaborating with schools or hiring tutors for certain subjects. It makes perfect sense though. I definitely want to try and find a network of local homeschoolers so that I can pick their brains. There is just so much I don't know on the matter. I know they are out there though…we were at the children's museum not too long ago and I remember seeing small group of children wearing special "home schooler" badges. And I remember thinking how fortunate those parents were to be so actively involved in everything their children learned. And how lucky those kids were that school that day was at the children's museum!


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