When I say the word homeschool, what image does it conjure up for you? For me it’s a picture of smiling kids sitting around the kitchen table, painting with watercolors while drinking raw cow’s milk from their mason jars with yummy oatmeal cookies on the side. The table is adorned with fresh garden flowers, nature’s treasures, and ornithology field guides.
Homeschooling looks different for every family. That is one of the marvelous things about it. Your unique family, lifestyle, interests, and passions all drive your journey of learning. I have been following homeschooling blogs for a long time, totally in awe of the process and the dynamic. How do these women multitask between their roles as mothers, wives, housekeepers, and teachers? Until recently, as blissful as pictures of these families appeared, the family connection, the interactive learning, the world being their classrooms, I could never have imagined that this would be us.
We are soon to be a homeschooling family
Just writing it sends waves of excitement through my body, quickly followed by a knotted nervous feeling.
It probably didn’t come as a surprise to any of our family and friends that we would choose to homeschool. After all, we are considered to be a family who chooses a path less traveled, but deciding whether or not to homeschool has not been an easy decision. After deliberating, dreaming, and soul searching, we arrived to the decision and are ready to make the commitment and the financial sacrifices necessary to make it happen.
As a family of humble means my first question was “can we actually afford to homeschool?” followed quickly by, “Am I smart enough to be responsible for our children’s education?” Then a flood of other questions were raised. “When will I get time to do the house work?” “Is homeschooling really possible with three kiddies and a baby?!”
The finances of homeschooling
Financially, homeschooling means committing to being a stay-at-home mum instead of contributing financially to the family income. Then there is the cost of expensive curricula, activities to enroll the kids in, and possible costs to remodel our house for a classroom. How much would it truly cost, and do we have the means?
Like any lifestyle choice, it’s important to make decisions, identify priorities, do your research, and live within your means. In reality, there are endless free resources and curricula, and you don’t need a ‘classroom’ in your house – the world becomes your classroom! Reading chapter books under a shady tree in the garden, a math lesson by the river, or writing in a journal on the beach. There are incredible support systems available for families where you can share your life skills with other like-minded homeschooling families offers an affordable way to share resources, save money, and build community. It’s also important to be mindful of consumerism. Homeschooling is an industry, and it’s easy to feel compelled to purchase all the things the kids will ‘need.’
My son had a happy year at kindergarten, and I do value the public system and the incredible work teachers do. But he was not terribly inspired and motivated to learn because of the repetitive and generic content. We want his time and energy to be spent learning about the world in a certain way, be motivated by his passions (currently all things reptiles), learning at his pace, and learning through hands-on experiences. We want our kids educated in a safe place with healthy influences, having time each day to explore, play, dream, and just be kids. Homeschooling would also give us infinite freedom to travel as a family, something we place a large value on.
I’m quite sure there will be those days when I see the school bus drive by the gate and wonder what it would be like to have them in a traditional school. I’ll probably question myself, my abilities, and our decision, but I’m hoping this phrase might be enough to get me through: “you are living amidst the most wonderful classroom ever created!”
So, can we afford to homeschool? We feel we can’t afford not to. We are compelled to follow our hearts and dreams to give our four children a holistic education. I’ll keep you posted with a follow-up homeschooling series, but for more about our family’s homeschool/homestead journey, follow us on our blog and Instagram @littlegreenlives.