The perceptive readers amongst will have noticed something odd. I talk a lot about home education moments with my children – resources we use, activities we’ve enjoyed, and curriculums I recommend. But I also mention my children’s school life. So, the question arises: Am I a homeschooler or not?
The beginning of my homeschooler journey
My eldest son was just 2 years old when he said, “Mummy, I want to read. Show me.” A few days later, he added writing to that request. Stunned with such a mature request from so small a person, I obliged and did what all mothers do when they need help.
I hit Google.
And down the homeschooling rabbit hole I fell.
It was never my intention to be a homeschooler, but as an avid reader and professional editor, how could I deny my son’s amazing request? He was too young for school, but my boy knew what he wanted, and it was up to me to provide that intellectual stimulation he so obviously craved. But self-doubt is a monster, and it had its claws in me.
“Oh, there’s no way I can homeschool full-time,” I told my mother when she asked how things were going. “I’m happy to fill in the gaps here and there and do extra work with him, but I can’t have the whole responsibility for his education on my shoulders. That’s too much. I’m only human.”
A reasonable argument… or so I thought. I began to see more and more “humans” homeschooling their children. Deep down, the seed had been planted and was starting to grow – maybe I can do this.
We needed a push
Now, there is one little fact that is crucial to this story – my husband is a teacher. Whilst he can see the problematic issues with UK schools, this is the Middle East! The sun shines all the time, the adhan (call to prayer) is heard through the streets, and un-Islamic agendas and materials don’t get anywhere near the schools. So why be a homeschooler?
Because my son changed. That’s why.
We sent him to school and because of his enthusiasm at 2 years old, he was able to read and write by age 3 and thoroughly enjoyed his nursery year. But by the following year, the cracks started to show. He came home with reading books he had already read with me or in nursery. When I explained this to his teacher, she sympathised but said her hands were tied because the head of her department insisted all children read the books in a certain order – no skipping.
I rolled my eyes at the politics of it all and decided to do my own reading with Umar at home. But now we had a problem; my previously enthusiastic boy found reading “boring”.
Maybe just a phase?
That’s what I thought until we sat down to do his maths homework (yes, you read that right. He was 5 years old and received compulsory maths homework.)
After a particularly frustrating homework session, Umar turned to me and said, “I don’t know it and now I’m going to fall behind.”
The “Teacher Speak” coming from his little mouth shook me.
Taking the plunge
I’d like to say that was the final straw for us, but it wasn’t. We pushed on. We tried harder and provided fun learning activities for him at home to subtly fill in the gaps in his knowledge he seemed to think he had. We tried to build up his confidence.
We tried for 2 more years, so no one can say we didn’t “give it time”. My poor boy hated school and associated learning with school. Anything that involved reading or learning was met with heavy resistance.
“I can help him,” I insisted to my husband. “He needs to be home with me and I guarantee he’ll not only be back up to speed, but he’ll enjoy himself doing it.”
After exhausting all other options, my husband agreed!
I was now officially a homeschooler!
Politics and the homeschooler
We had 2 glorious years. In those years, I also homeschooled my younger 2 children. I went all out. I read anything and everything I could. I learnt just as much as my children did in those two years. I fully adopted my homeschooler identity.
But we were living the expat life and were in the middle of the desert where the only real social time kids got were through the local school. My children actively saw the events, the sports days, and the fun their neighbours participated in. And they felt left out.
Then came the pressure from my husband – maybe it’s time to put them into school? Now, anyone who has found themselves on opposite ends of an issue with their spouses know that compromise is essential. You have to pick your battles.
And so, they went back to school. I cried that first day.
Home ed and school life
Now, I don’t want anyone to ever say I haven’t given school a chance, because I did. I have whole-heartedly thrown myself into it. I am actively involved; I go to all the parent workshops to find out how they are teaching my kids so I can make sure I am on the same page when I help them at home. I study the reading programmes, I attend the meetings. I do MY homework.
And I see the flaws. Now I do my best to gloss over those flaws with all the home education knowledge I’ve gained over the years. My daughter is struggling with reading? I know how to make it fun. My son wishes he had more science at school? I’ve got a unit study ready and waiting.
Being a homeschooler has empowered me to know exactly how to help my kids when school short-changes them.
We are still, and always will be, a home educating family.
Will I be an exclusive homeschooler again?
You bet! I refuse to give up and I will continue trying to prove that home education is best. And who knows? Maybe one day my prayers will be answered and my babies will be back to the awesome life that is Home Education.
Tell me your story
Everyone has a Homeschool Story, especially now the world went Covid-Crazy and the schools closed! Tell me your Homeschool Story in the comments!