Guest blog, by Stacey Campbell.
Imagine this: you go with your husband out of town for his job and take your kindergartener, toddler and baby with you. You drop your husband off and the kids need some serious time out of the car to get the wiggles out. You realize you don’t have a stroller and only two arms, so you go to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy a cheap umbrella stroller. As soon as you get out to the car, you open the stroller box and it has parts. Uh-oh. What to do? Of course! Use the nail clippers from your purse as a screwdriver and get ‘er done. That’s me! A take charge kind of gal. A gal that graduated from high school a year early, had a college degree, went through real-estate school, worked full time and had four kids by the time I was 26.
Fast forward a few years and I am rushing around my kid’s school putting on three class parties in one day almost by myself (as room mom for my 3 older girls) and I have an ah-ha moment. A thought that wouldn’t leave me alone for the next year, just rolling around in my head. Why am I putting all this time, effort, energy, and money into the 32+ kids in EACH of my kid’s classes (that’s almost 100) when I could be pouring it straight into just my 4 children? I talked to my husband about it and to my shock and awe he fully supported the idea! So I started to gather all the information I could find on homeschooling and pulled my kids out of the public school they had attended for years after the school year had ended. Before we get ahead of ourselves, I want to say my kids went to a great school and had awesome teachers. With that being said, all of my children were in class sizes of 32+. Even the MOST AWESOME teacher will have a hard time teaching that many kids.
We dove into homeschooling, survived our first year, and have never looked in the rear-view mirror. Like the family from the movie “The Robinsons” say, “Keep moving forward”. Every day, I am so thankful for the choice I made. If my kids are growing and are a little more tired, they can sleep in! They no longer sit under halogen lighting seven (or more!) hours everyday and the year-round runny noses are a thing of the past. They can take a bathroom break anytime they need one (shocking!) and on winter mornings when it’s still dark outside and cold, my kids wake up and do school in their socks and jammies eating a warm breakfast.
We have so many adventures now! Homeschooling allows time to go to art museums, history museums, science centers, nature conservatories and more- most of which offer discounted homeschool days and a definite plus is we get to go on weekdays when no one else is there! When family comes to town or something important comes up, we take time off. I don’t worry about my kids taking time off as they are in their learning environment 24/7/365. If we are out somewhere, anywhere, I know exactly what my kids are studying in their subjects and can point out relevant connections to their schoolwork. I feel this enriches a deeper learning than just checking to make sure they did their homework and checking their report cards (like in public school).
A by-product of homeschooling is how SOCIALIZED my kids are (even though I feel that term should be reserved for dogs). What?! Socialized Homeschoolers?! But homeschoolers are all weird! Homeschoolers wear long skirts and eat granola and don’t brush their hair! Riiiiggght. Although there are times I may not brush my hair, my kids do like granola and for awhile the maxi skirts were in style, for the most part we are just like everyone else. My kids interact with people of all ages every day, from babies to grandmas. This is a great opportunity for them rather than being jammed in a classroom with 30+ kids all around their age with similar thoughts and behaviors. There are several co-ops to join and make friends as well. Anything you can imagine. Sports, P.E., Art, Robotics, cooking, you name it. Homeschoolers also have their own prom and graduation ceremonies.
My kids thrived in public school-they were “Golden Scholars”, given many good citizenship awards, and beloved by their teachers. However, the time they get to build relationships with each other (their siblings) and the deep connections they have with me and me with them doesn’t compare to any award they may have received in the past. My oldest daughter (14 years old) said to me not long ago that before homeschooling she mostly just thought of me “as a babysitter who made her lunches”. My mouth was wide open in shock! I was “the” involved mom- I was room mom, made those cute pinterest-worthy valentine’s and Halloween costumes etc.. If that’s how she felt then, in elementary school, I can’t imagine how our relationship would have progressed through the teenage years when faced with peer pressure and social influences every day. I am thankful I don’t have to worry about my children’s safety and doing “lockdown” drills at school.
Self-interest/led learning is so wonderful for the individual child. My children are all so, so different from one another and have their own thoughts and ideas about their future and I can help lead them on their own specific journey. My oldest has decided she wants to pursue political science (she is very type A) so she volunteers at the Public Library and works as teen volunteer for the municipal county court along with her school subjects and other volunteering. My second child is a born artist and we are able to do art everyday as a family- learning about the master artists, art history and art movements. She lights up and comes to life during art and I cannot imagine her only doing art once or twice a week and in some schools, no art at all. My third little girl devotes all of her free time to piano practice. Gone are the days of vegging in front of mind-numbing Disney channel shows as soon as they get home, exhausted.
I understand not everyone has the luxury of having a husband to support the family but I do feel it’s all about priority. We are a minimalist family. We don’t buy clothes or shoes until it’s a NECESSITY. I’m driving a 12 year old minivan that I will drive until I just can’t drive it anymore. I have had to put aside my need for a “successful career” until my kids are older. We don’t eat out, like ever. We see a movie maybe twice a year and save and scrimp to go on any vacations. I don’t have brand-name make-up, I don’t get pedicures, and most of my clothes are from Goodwill (they’re still Ann Taylor and Gap and I still look good ).
I hear all the time “I wouldn’t have the patience”. Do you think all homeschool moms are Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz with her soft voice and magical wand? (Excuse me while I go laugh maniacally) We all have bad days. I do, my kids do, and you do, but in the end, all of the hard work will be so worth it.
“Children are NOT a distraction from more important work. They are THE MOST important work.” – C.S. Lewis
Stacey Campbell is a homeschool mom of four beautiful children, wife to one doting husband, and Residential Interior Designer by trade.She resides in the wonderful state of Texas in the great US OF A. Follow Lavish Living Interior Design on Facebook for contact information. Follow Stacey or LavLivInteriors on Pinterest.