Unexpectedly Homeschooling: Our Journey

Over the years I have known many homeschooling families but I never thought our family would be one of them. My husband and I planned for our kids to attend the school at our parish. We even bought a house within the boundaries of the parish to be sure we had the best chance for getting in. Despite having three little ones, I worked full-time because we knew we needed both our incomes to afford our parish school. But you know how these things go … we make plans and God laughs.

And He had a great big laugh!

Shortly after we moved into that house I started having doubts. Not about the school itself, I knew my kids would get a good education there and we have friends who send their kids to school there and love it. No, it wasn’t that. I had doubts about continuing to work full time. I loved my job, or more accurately, I loved aspects of my job. But the parts I loved were getting buried under a bunch of other things that I really didn’t love. And my desire to spend more time at home with my children was growing larger by the day.

How were we going to afford the Catholic school if I was home? It didn’t seem possible. One thing my husband felt strongly about was that we couldn’t really afford the house long-term if I was home. After much deliberation and lots of research, and plenty of prayer of course, we decided that we’d work toward making it possible for me to stay home full-time and we’d look at selling the house in a couple years. Plus, the schooling decision was now open.

The funny thing was that we looked around our neighborhood and realized that houses were selling pretty fast. We saw a for sale sign go up on a house just down the street and within a few weeks it was gone. Instead of waiting a couple more years, we called our Realtor. Boy, was she shocked to hear from us!!

We sold the house in one weekend and began scrambling to find a new house. Which we did. So now, what about schooling??

A regular guest on a local radio program both my husband and I listened to was a big promoter of classical education models. One day we both happened to hear him mention that he was going to be speaking at a local, classical school one night on this topic. So we decided to attend. It turns out it was also an open house for the school. We had heard of the school before but hadn’t really looked into it. It was a hybrid school, that is, part-time school paired with part-time homeschooling.

Remember, I said I never expected to homeschool.

But we looked around, talked to some teachers, looked at some curricula (I had no idea what I was supposed to be evaluating, but I looked), went to the talk, and walked away sold.

Say what? Yes, SOLD!!

I was shocked that I was seriously considering this. But in all honesty, the idea of homeschooling in conjunction with a part-time school, was easier to consider than tackling homeschooling all at once. The more we looked into the program and talked to others who had experience with the school, the more this seemed like a very real possibility.

So last summer, I left my job and began a new journey. My twins started Kindergarten in September and it has been a great experience. I plan to do a post on hybrid homeschooling itself and why we like it, but that is not this post (look for that later this year). This post is for sharing our journey (done!) and how our first year went.

And the first year has been great! We have a few weeks left in the year and I’m beyond pleased with how well my boys have done and how easy the transition was.

The transition from working full-time with kids in daycare to being home full time took almost no time to get used to. My boys loved being home more and going on more outings with mom. I miss aspects of working, but overall I was ready for this next step (I worked for 16 years, had tenure, blah, blah, blah, that chapter was ready to be over).

Once school started the boys adjusted to the new schedule fairly quickly. They attend school two days (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and we do their assignments plus any supplementing I want to do at home the other days. And they end up with plenty of time to play, do art projects, etc. We even try to make daily Mass once a week.

The hardest part of the transition was keeping the 2 year old (now 3 year old) occupied during school time. He did a lot of coloring or just sitting on my lap listening or even helping to hold the sight word flashcards. After the first 4 months (about the time he turned 3) he started realizing that he could have all the toys to himself, no sharing, while we did school work. Score!! Now he’s mostly in the playroom when the twins are working.

We did fall behind in our religion lesson plans. The school is a Christian school, so they have been memorizing Bible verses and learning Bible stories in school, but I knew we needed a Catholic curriculum at home. We’ve done about a third of the book I chose. Kindergarten has been a good time to find what works for us and what doesn’t. I’m still determined to do this aspect of their formation at home, but I need to make some adjustments for next year. In the meantime, I’ve learned that as a homeschooler, summer is a great time to catch up in a casual, no-pressure way. Truthfully, though, they are not lacking in religious formation. We try to attend Mass at least once during the week, we talk about our Catholic faith often, we pray as a family, they ask questions, and we have learned some new prayers this year. So regardless of whether we finish the book or not, I feel like they have still learned a lot.

Overall, this has been a great year for us and I’m so happy this is the direction God led us. It was a scary path to take at first, but I believe it was the right one for us. We are definitely taking it year by year, trying to leave it open to what God intends for us. For now, we’re happy with the hybrid school approach and are committed again for next year. At the same time, I’m going to devote some time next year to homeschooling preschool with my youngest.

So, if you are on the fence, like I once was, research your options, pray about it a lot, and then go ahead and jump in if God is calling you. Nothing has to be forever, you can always try something different the next year.

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