It took me a long time to transition from being a registered nurse in a fast-paced Emergency Room to being a stay at home mom. When I say a long time, I mean like years. I definitely did not have any plans or thoughts to homeschool.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids! …but the change of pace and purpose of my day was so dramatically different, that I really struggled.
I remember exactly where I was standing the first time someone mentioned something to me about my oldest being old enough for preschool the following year. I remember thinking, “What?! Preschool?? My kid?? Already?!” I was tired, regularly using a lot of dry shampoo for my hair, finding stains on my clothes when I was already standing in the grocery store, and eager for a break – so I began to get really excited about the prospect of preschool coming up.
Two mornings a week preschool was a hit! Oldest loved her teacher, the other students, and the structure it gave to our week. I had Middle at home with me, but it was still a bit of a break. I liked the idea of Oldest and I having time away from each other so we could miss each other.
Three mornings a week Pre-K was next and the whole family loved it! I had Middle and Youngest at home with me at this point. It was a bit of a challenge to get out the door for drop off and pick up, but we made it work.
The next year was the much anticipated Kindergarten! Oldest would be at school for about 6.5 hours a day – 5 days a week. Real school had started! I will admit that I did not cry a single tear. I was proud of her and knew she was off to conquer the world.
We lucked out and she got one of the best teachers in the school. Oldest looked forward to going to school every day and she was learning a lot.
So…Why did I pull her from public school? Why did I start homeschooling for 1st grade?
I’ll be honest and say it was not anyone individual thing. We are not a single issue homeschooling family. It was a slow trickle of concerns that just got bigger and bigger and I could no longer avoid it.
The more those trickles started to add up, I realized with shock and horror that the idea of homeschooling had taken hold of me and would not let go. I didn’t want to homeschool! But why couldn’t I get it out of my mind?!
Why I Started Homeschooling
1. What does she do all day???
When Kindergarten started, Oldest was suddenly spending more time away from our family than with our family. When I asked her what she did all day or how things went – I got a lot of one-word answers. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know who was in her class, what they were doing at recess, what she was learning, or anything else about that huge block of time.
I started to become uncomfortable with that. I also started to really miss her. Hadn’t I waited all those years for Kindergarten to start?? What was happening??? For the first time, I really considered homeschooling as an option.
2. Lost Influence
I also started to notice that Oldest greatly respected her teacher. This is a good thing – something we encouraged – but I started to notice that Ms. Hamilton had significant influence over my daughter.
I don’t know Ms. Hamilton at all. And she now seemed to carry more weight with my child than I did. I didn’t know how I felt about handing my daughter over to a total stranger and allowing them to become a greater influence than me. Somebody else was now shaping my daughter. Something just didn’t seem right about that.
3. Mean Girls and Bullying
Yes, there were mean kids when I was growing up. Yes, I got bullied here and there a bit. I have always said it made me a stronger and more compassionate person.
Kids these days are different. I continue to be shocked when I read the news and see how much of a problem bullying – physical, verbal, and cyber – has become. I was stunned when my sister texted me the other day to let me know that my teenage niece had witnessed a pregnant teenager as she was drug down the school hallway by her hair and punched in the face till her jaw was broken – by a group of girls! A horrible thing for my niece to have to witness. My sister took her to the hospital to visit the girl and reach out to her family. The family told my sister that this was their second high school already due to previous bullying.
When I was a kid, some boys said I was fat and it really hurt my feelings, but kids these days are taking bullying to shocking and dangerously new levels.
My little kindergartener had already starting to have problems with other girls excluding her from play and telling her that her picture day dress was “ugly.” The same girl who said that also said that when she grows up she’s going to kill my daughter. I contacted the teacher and the school counselor got involved with the little girl. I began to wonder what lay ahead in the coming years if this is just kindergarten. I definitely began to think this was not the group of peers I wanted socializing my child.
4. School Shootings
I remember where I was when I heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Oldest was not even 2 years old then, but I remember feeling so sick, sad, and helpless about the state of our culture and nation.
Fast forward to kindergarten. Oldest is in the back of the car telling me about some weird occurrence in her school day. She began to describe a game that the teacher played with them where they had to hide and be really quiet even though the principal was walking through the hallways and banging on doors.
She was clearly describing an active shooter drill. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy the school was taking precautions. As I drove down the road though, I felt the blood drain out of my face. I asked myself, “Really, this is the best you can offer your kid for an educational atmosphere?”
5. Teacher Misconduct
Right upfront, I want to say my grandmother was a public school teacher and my mother in law was a public school English teacher. I have great respect for teachers who work so hard for so little pay. Since I homeschool now, I have no idea how they accomplish with 25 kids what I struggle to do with 3! I want to be clear that I highly respect teachers and appreciate all their sacrifices for kids.
Sadly, though there are a growing number of bad apples out there who are eroding the trust we have all placed in teachers. Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation reports that 1 in 10 students in grades K-12 will become victims of educator sexual misconduct.
Go ahead and google “Teacher Sexual Misconduct.” You will likely find many news stories you have not heard about. It doesn’t even make national news anymore! We are no longer shocked by a news story of a teacher taking advantage of our trust.
Thoughts of this floated in my mind as I wondered about just how safe Oldest was at school. I never doubted Ms. Hamilton, but what would next year bring?
Btw, since I pulled my daughter from public school, 2 teachers in our area (not from her former school) have been arrested for sexual misconduct. Again, I highly respect teachers and count several as friends, but I am saddened by how our culture seems to be affecting some in the profession.
6. Hot topic social issues being discussed during school hours
There are a number of hot topics out there today – abortion, sex education, homosexuality, and transgenderism being some of the biggest. These can be uncomfortable for adults to discuss and agree on, but for some reason, the school system has been tasked with laying out curriculum and teaching kids about these very sensitive topics.
When my kindergartener came home one day and explained that she had been told at school that two princesses actually could get married, I realized again that someone else was shaping her. It is my place to have that discussion with her. I want to be the person who explains to her our worldview.
7. Broken Education System
Have you ever had a conversation with someone where this was said, “Oh, I think the U.S. education system is doing great! I am really impressed!” Probably not. It seems to be much more common to hear and read discussion about all the failures of our current system and how badly it needs to be reformed.
I just read that the US now places 27th in the world for education. 27th! We are being outranked by countries such as Greece, Latvia, Estonia, and Belarus. How can that be?! What is even more alarming is that the US was ranked 6th in 1990. There has been a steady decline.
I don’t pretend to understand all the reasons why this has happened. All I know is that there are legitimate facts that point to significant problems in our education system.
As I sent my little kindergartener off to school, this information about our school system made me wonder – could I do better? Could I provide a better education than 27th place??
These thoughts plagued me!
As much as I just wanted to stick my head in the sand and not think about all of the above issues – I could not shake it off. I just wanted to be a “normal” parent and send my kids to school. But I felt like I had a tractor beam on me that would not let up.
I kept looking at my kid and thinking – despite my fear – I have to try. Maybe I will fail, but I have to at least try homeschooling and see if I can give my kids a better shot. Yes, it will be hard, but they deserve my best.
The list continues
Now that we are homeschooling the list of reasons to continue homeschooling has only grown larger.
I now see that I have the power to customize her education to her learning style, go at her pace (faster in some areas and slower in other areas), and encourage science and math (something girls can be ridiculed for pursuing). My daughter wears her pajamas to class most days and has no thoughts or distractions in her head of being judged by her peers about her appearance. She is not motivated by grades (not necessary in the elementary school years), instead, we are instilling in her what will hopefully be a life long love of learning!
If you want to know more about “after” we started homeschooling check out – 5 Benefits of Homeschooling I Didn’t See Coming.
What about you?
Have you read this far because you feel the same gnawing on your heart to try homeschooling? Have you been nodding your head and agreeing with all the issues with our culture and schools? Are you now terrified and a bit nauseous because you don’t think you’re capable?
I’ve been there! You can do this! If you feel the conviction to homeschool your kids – you owe it to them to give your very best effort.
I started this entire blog site for you. If you want to take the leap, go against the grain, buck the system, choose a different path – I want to help you get started with your homeschool and keep you going. It won’t be easy, but nothing that is really worthwhile ever is.
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