Confession: I am an accidental homeschooler. And I became one when I realized the poor quality of our public school forced me to be one.
You may be asking, “How do you become an accidental homeschooler?” Let me tell you our story.
I never in my wildest dreams thought of homeschooling. As a matter of fact, we only knew of one family that homeschooled and they were a friend of a friend. It was honestly the culmination of a whole bunch of changes happening at once, and, I believe, the Lord’s guiding.
It all began in March of 2010 when my son was turning 3. He was getting help with his speech through a local Head Start program, but as soon as he turned 3 we were told he would have to enter the local public preschool if he wanted to continue to get speech help for free. My oldest daughter was currently in a private Christian school, which was actually why we moved to the town we were currently living in, because of this expense we could not afford to get him private help for his speech difficulties. We struggled really hard with this decision because our local public school system was not very well ranked in our state and the high school was continuing to fight for accreditation. This had us very nervous about putting our son in such a subpar system and honestly I was sick the first day I dropped him off.
He turned 3 at the end of March so he would only be there for two and half months to finish off the year so we decided to give it a try. To my surprise, he actually seemed to enjoy it. It was just 3 half days a week and he was getting the help that he needed. Or at least that is what I told myself.
In June of that same year, my husband lost his second job. That was basically the money that was going towards my oldest daughter’s tuition. Both my son and daughter were wrapping up school at this time. I went to my son’s end of school celebration and spoke to his teacher about him possibly being placed in her class again next year since he seemed to really like her and he didn’t do very well with change. She informed me that while that is usually how it is handled in situations like his, this year those referrals were taken away from the individual teachers and now placed in the principal’s hands.
I went home and e-mailed the principal before everyone left for the summer and asked her to consider placing my son in the same class next year. I was blown away by the response. She basically told me that I know that is not a decision for me to make and that they know what’s best for my son. Angered by that response, I called my husband. He tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t having it. He finally convinced me to take the summer to go over our options and cool down, that we didn’t have to make a decision until school started up again. After all, we had a lot to figure out in the coming months.
Now that the kids were home, we really needed to weigh our options for schooling both of my oldest kids. Money was tight, real tight. We looked at other private schools that may not cost as much and even considered moving to a town with better public schools. But the money just wasn’t there for either option.
I can still remember the day I just blurted out, “I will homeschool her.” I don’t even know where it came from. Me, homeschool? Was I crazy? I said it quite confidently as if I was sure of this, but I wasn’t. I just didn’t see that we had any good options left. I think my confidence came as a way to convince my husband, and myself, that I could actually do this. Understand that at this time I had a 2- and 3- year-old and I knew nothing about schooling my kids. I was an accountant, not a teacher.
I decided to jump headfirst into learning about homeschooling, what paperwork I needed to pull her from school, and what curriculum to use. I spent the next 2 months pretending I was confident in this decision, but underneath I was petrified I was going to mess her up.
We still hadn’t made a decision on my son attending preschool again in the fall, as we were waiting to see whose class he would be placed in. If he was placed with a new teacher we would keep him home and I would have to figure out how I could help him myself. If he was placed with the same teacher we would consider putting him back into public school in the fall.
It was about 2 weeks from school starting and we received the letter that he would be placed in the same class again. My husband thought it would be best to have him go back to school since it would give me more time to teach my oldest and he did enjoy it the year before. I agreed even though I knew it wasn’t what was best for him.
Right before school began, I melted down. I just didn’t know how in the world I could do this. We went to church that Sunday, and I was still scared and unsure of what I was doing. I knew I just had to keep going forward. I got in a whole 5 to 10 minutes of that service since my youngest dealt with separation anxiety and wouldn’t stop crying in her class. But in that few minutes, a young lady stood up on the podium talking about her mission’s trip. She told of how the closer the day came for her to leave the more frightened she became. She told of how she got down on her knees in a moment of overwhelm and said, “God, I can’t do this.” And He spoke to her and said, “You can’t, but I can.”
In that room in only those few minutes, I heard what I needed to hear. I can’t, but He can. I went home and found a banner with Philippians 4:3 written on it and placed it on our classroom wall.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
That verse has brought me through all the rough days.
My son only made it a few weeks back at school until we pulled him. He went from loving school to screaming and fighting with us to go. After a short time, my momma heart just couldn’t bear it anymore and we pulled him from the program. It was at that moment I realized that my kids belonged home with me. I knew what was best for them and I knew that I would do everything in my power to help them, so who would make a better teacher for them than me?
I’ve been homeschooling now for 8 years. It took a while to find my groove and we still have to tweak things here and there. I am not going to tell you it has been easy. But it has been worth it. If you are struggling with a public school that doesn’t seem to have your child’s best interest in mind and are torn because you just don’t think you are qualified, let me tell you that you are the most qualified. No one knows better what your children need and no will fight harder to give it to them than you.
Jenna is a homeschooling mom to 3 amazing kids and a freelance writer. She has been homeschooling for 8 years and has taught every grade from preschool to 12th grade. She loves sharing tips for frugal living, homeschooling, and her heart over on her blog CenteredAtHome.com.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.