It was one of the first things people would ask. And it often wasn’t even a question; more of a suggestion or an assumption that it would just happen.
“So, you’re going to homeschool?”
I guess considering I was a teacher and now leaving my position of five years in a school people felt as though it was just an obvious choice for our kids. I was, after all, leaving teaching to essentially teach full time. My students were a one year-old “I-can-walk-now-so-I-can-reach-the-knife-drawer” and a three year-old who could string out a completely made up story nonstop for a full two hours. Seriously. I timed it.
No, I wasn’t going to homeschool.
Well, to a point maybe I was. I mean, my whole life was now turning into a 24/7 classroom. Not that Aven (knife thrower) was ready to do calculus but he soaking up new words every day. And Kai was almost ready to take on calculus, but first we needed to brush up on some counting skills. So yeah, in that informal hands-on way I was continuing on in my trained profession.
Fast forward to about two years later and we’re searching around for schools. For as much as I love having a choice of 300 different types of cereal at the grocery store, 14 gas stations in one square mile, and at least 10 options for elementary schools in the vicinity of our Tempe home, sometimes it would be nice to show up somewhere and have just two options. Plain Cheerios or honey nut? The gas here is $2.19, across town it’s $2.20. The public school close by or the fancy charter a mile away? Or, call me a communist, maybe someone could just tell me where my kid should go for kindergarten.
No? I need to get him on a waiting list? A lottery? You mean getting my kid into the perfect Kindergarten program might be harder than winning the Powerball?
After having him enrolled in, yes, three different schools over the course of the spring before Kai would start his educational pursuits, we finally gave up on a full time, public school schedule. I guess after trying to teach both of them so much (like the proper way to hold a knife…) for a couple years, the transition didn’t seem too hard. There were many reasons we eventually decided to homeschool. Among them were the disappearing recess, longer school days, huge classrooms (all things as a teacher I saw being highly ineffective) and the biggest reason: we wanted more flexibility. I know, I know: think of all the holidays! The summers, Christmas break… Isn’t that enough?
Well, no. It wasn’t. Not for us, anyway.
So we ignored the dire warnings that our kids would turn into social zombies and the deeply debated religious reasons to pull your children out of the dens of lions and decided that homeschool looked pretty awesome. It offered us a chance to tailor the curriculum exactly to what Kai needed and allowed us the freedom to take a hike, go to a museum, or fly off somewhere whenever we wanted. It also eventually allowed us to live on the edge of the Wild for a bit.
Yeah, we homeschool now. Lanna (ever the diligent researcher) sorted through some curriculum options and we landed on a really great one from Oak Meadow. Time tested since the mid 70’s, the school itself is based in Vermont and has a well paced, easy to follow guide for homeschoolers. It’s nature based (perfect for Cabin Life), slightly hippie oriented with a good chunk of feel-good stuff to bring out some awesome comprehension and understanding of the basics. We’re now well into the first grade and it’s been a perfect fit for Kai and for us as his teachers. The Oak Meadow folks also have a weekly checklist that follows all the national and state standards, expectations, and other spells and wizardry deemed to have your kid ready for the future, college, or whatever our dear leaders feel nessacry to hand down legislation for. I’m not getting all caught up in that. I’m pretty sure that if I screw them up too bad, Lanna can straighten it all out. And at six and four, the boys don’t need the pressure and stress of preparing for Harvard. The kids will indeed be alright. And we’re good with that.
This may not be forever, maybe we’ll enroll them next year: who knows? Right now, it’s a great option allowing us to slow down, work and play at our pace and focus on the good stuff. Sometimes that’s listening to your kid squeak out a two note song on a recorder, other times it’s ripping through the woods on an ATV. It’s life right now. And it’s a good one.