I let out a deep breath as I clicked “send.”
Feeling the weight of the decision, I’d put off submitting my official letter of intent to homeschool my first grader until the last week of summer vacation.
The next morning, the registrar replied with two sentences. “Thank you for letting me know. I will withdraw him.”
And just like that, our homeschooling journey has begun.
I’ve been curious about teaching my children at home since my firstborn was just two years old. Over the last four-and-a-half years, I’ve read books and blogs; I’ve educated myself on the arguments for and against; I’ve researched ways to “socialize” kids outside of the classroom; I’ve listened to podcasts, and I’ve observed other families on their own homeschooling journeys. The flexibility, the ability to have some sense of continuity in the midst of moves and the everyday chaos of military life, and the opportunity to learn alongside my children, to watch them grow and be an active part of their education and character development, is so very appealing to me.
Now, the curriculum has been pieced together. Our supplies have been sitting on the shelf so long, they’re already starting to collect dust (I may have been a little overzealous). I’ve made a plan for the school year, and our schedules for the first few weeks are set and ready to go.
The choice is no reflection of our experience with the Department of Defense schools in Europe (DoDEA-Europe). Attending kindergarten on our local military installation was the best decision for our firstborn and our family at the time for many reasons. He had a fantastic year, and sending him back for first grade would have been a perfectly fine decision.
So why would we even consider homeschooling him this fall?
I believe we are free to make our own choices as parents to do what we trust is best for our children and families. In turn, we trust God to walk beside us in all we do, filling our gaps along the way.
Having to pick between two good decisions is one of the many difficult tasks of parenthood. We weigh the pros and cons, seek wise advice, spend time in prayer and go to scripture to discern what is best. Taking the time to do each of these things, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that it makes the most sense for our boys and our family this year.
Teaching our boys at home may not be the only good decision for our family, but we believe it is the best one for us in this particular season of life.
Homeschooling will give us the opportunity to …
Spend more quality time together as a family.
Last year, my husband was tasked with a special assignment that allowed him to work in an office Monday through Friday on a nine to five schedule. It was wonderful, and I didn’t realize just how spoiled we’d gotten until he switched back to his regularly assigned duties in June. Now, his schedule is all over the place, and he will be rotating back and forth between lengthy night- and day shifts every couple of months. As a result, duty has called our family to be extremely flexible this summer. The difficult adjustment has helped us realize how little time we would get to spend together once school starts and we are bound even further by the district calendar. Homeschooling will allow us to hold onto that flexibility so we can spend as many rare off-duty moments together as we can.
Make the most of our dwindling days overseas.
Speaking of spending as many rare off-duty moments together as we can … we plan to take advantage of every opportunity we have to travel as often as possible. There are several trips we would like to take before we have to leave, and homeschooling will allow us to learn as we go (and often with authentic hands-on experiences). This year, the world will be our classroom when we are away from home.
When we moved to Germany a little over two years ago, I vowed to take advantage of the opportunity to start fresh so we could slow our pace of life down a bit. We were coming from a busy season of training, work and adjustment, and I was looking forward to life in a small, quiet village. It didn’t take long for the boredom and loneliness to set in, however. I quickly lost sight of my reasons for wanting to slow down, and I filled our schedules with activities and commitments without much consideration. Over time, I ended up even busier (and more overwhelmed) than I was at our previous duty station. This year, I hope to be more intentional about what we fill our schedules with. I plan to choose our commitments wisely, focus on the quality of our friendships over quantity, value our opportunities to rest … and, yes, even make time to “be bored” more often.
Of course, there are many other reasons why homeschooling is a great choice in general, but these are our main reasons for choosing to walk this path this school year.
As for whether or not we will homeschool for second grade and kindergarten… we will have to wait and see. We know from experience, seasons of life change, and with them, so do our needs and circumstances. When it comes time to decide whether we will continue or not, we will start all over again with weighing the pros and cons, seeking wise advice, spending time in prayer and going to scripture to discern what is best.
Today, we are stepping out in faith, one stride at a time.
Whether you have decided to send your kids back to school or teach them at home, let’s walk together, encouraging one another and trusting God each step of the way.