Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Alright, let me start off with stating that I have been very hesitant about broaching this topic on my blog.   As of this weekend, when school officially finishes for the year, we are going to be homeschoolers.  Bear with me as I try to put this decision into words.

I never thought I would homeschool, ever!  I have plenty of friends who homeschool, and to be honest, I thought they must be smarter, braver or more dedicated than me.  Or maybe they were just crazy?  But over the last little while, the idea of considering homeschooling began to grow in our home.

Our oldest is very smart, and has always loved to learn.  He could read at 3, write at 4, and started insisting we teach him his times tables for fun when he had just turned 5.  He picks up things at lightening speed, tell him once, and he knows it.  He can figure things out, imagining the inner workings of any machine.  Once, when he was 5, he came upstairs and said to us " Let me tell you why the basement is colder than the upstairs.  Heat rises, so all of the heat the furnace puts into the basement eventually makes it's way upstairs.  Also, the basement is part way in the ground, so the earth keeps it insulated and cools the floors and walls." Ahhhh, thermodynamics discovered all on his own.  So naturally, we assumed he'd do fabulously in school.  We put him in french immersion for two reasons: It's Shawn's family heritage ( I speak it as well) and it would offer him a challenge...hopefully. 

Baden also needs time to adjust to changes, especially big ones.  So, being a caring mom, I put him in pre-school so he would have a slow and smooth adjustment to school.  He hated it.  He cried before and after school.  Now, this is a fabulous school, and I have nothing negative to say about it.  But, he struggled with the stress all year. 

Surely, Kindergarten would go better!  By Christmas, Baden was fluent enough in french to understand pretty much anything you said to him, and he could say what he wanted, with atleast 75% of the words in french.  By all measurable standards, he was a stellar student.  Well liked by the teacher and his classmates, he did well in all subjects.  But still, he hated school.  Suddenly, he didn't find learning as fun.  The stress has been showing at home in his behavior and his thoughts.  We talked to the counselor, who assured us he would adjust and was doing just fine.  Both his teacher and his principal were shocked by our request to see the counselor because they knew nothing about the behaviors we were seeing at home.

Summer was a relief for us.  Surely, after a nice break, grade one would be better?  Baden was thrilled with his teacher, who had also taught him pre-school.  He continued to excel in all measurable ways at school, except maybe dance class, which he loathed, lol!  But, the stress continued to show at home.  He would melt down over silly things.  He felt left out of whatever we were doing during the day while he was gone, and would be extra demanding of our attention when he was home, as if trying to make up for the hours missed while at school.  Our son, who had always been gentle and caring to his sisters was becoming mean and often angry with them.  Small situations at school seemed to bother him for a long time, making him upset. He often felt helpless dealing with certain classmates.  He's picked up behaviors and language we don't agree with.  It's been a fight to get him on the bus everyday this year.

We've spent a lot of metal energy trying to figure out what is causing this stress.  To be honest, we still have no idea.  He goes to a great school.  His teacher is fabulous and has really gone the extra mile for him.  It's been so frustrating to have no idea why he is stressed, we were sure that if we could figure it out, we could at least improve or fix it.  However, we also began to think we may not be able to wait until we identified the reason, the stress was getting so bad.

Each time he had a school break, our whole family could breathe a sigh of relief.  The first day of a week off, he'd be a mess, but by the end of the week, he was himself again.  Often Shawn and I would say to each other " It's a shame we have to send him back!"  Well, after the spring break, Shawn said to me " Why do we have to send him back?"  It's a simple question, but a loaded one.  So began my research into homeschooling.

I have been very impressed by what I found.  It really is do-able, and there are lots of amazing curriculum choices out there. There are plenty of studies out there, and great books, all showing how you can offer your child a great education.  The more I read, the more I felt like God was telling me to be prepared.  That's all I could hear, so I kept reading, exhausting my homeschooling  friends with my endless questions.  One let me borrow her daughters books for a week, so I could read through them and see if they would suit my kids or not.  It's really hard to pick which math book you might like, if you can't see any of them!  We prayed and we considered, and still we felt we were being told to "be prepared and wait". 

Finally, on a day off, Shawn volunteered at the school.  He went to help kids read books.  As a guy who speaks french, his willingness to volunteer was a real help to the boys in Baden's class.  It was an average day.  Nothing terrible happened.  No lightening from the sky, no bullying, no problems.  Yet, he came home and declared " That's it, we're homeschooling."  I asked him what had happened to make him feel so sure, but it was nothing he could articulate.  All of our preparation was put to good use as I began to order the materials we had picked out.

We discussed the idea vaguely with Baden, but we didn't tell him flat out that he would not be returning to school.  It didn't seem smart, in the middle of a local teacher's strike, because the two were not related at all.  I knew what our provincial regulations were, and began filling out forms, and writing a formal education plan for the year.  Finally, after a particularly bad day at school, I finally told Baden that he only had to make it to the end of the year, and then he wouldn't have to go back.  It has relieved his stress visibly.  I registered with the school board, and informed his school.

We also had to decided what to do for Colleena.  While she may enjoy Kindergarten, the idea of going to school if Baden isn't going with her, scared her.  She had always imagined getting on the bus with Baden and playing with Baden during recess.  After a lot more talking and praying, we decided not to send her either.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is the lack of a school schedule, of being able to organize our days around Shawn's work schedule.  We'd lose out on that if we sent Colleena.

I have always enjoyed teaching my children things, and sharing those "Aha!" moments with them. In a way, we've always homeschooled our children without really calling it that.  We taught them as we went about our day, and let them explore interests and encouraged them to learn many things.  I've missed that while Baden has been at school, and I admit, I am looking forward to next year very much.  I know it won't all be smooth sailing, and there will be lots of hard days, but I think it is the right choice for our family.

The main reason I am choosing to share all this on my blog is that this choice is having a effect on so many areas of my life.  It definitely is a factor in my budget.  It's changing what I thought my life would look like at this point.  Having just brought home baby #4, our life will be quite busy this fall.  I'm not sure what life will look like for me, as I tackle the running of our home, tasks like doctor and dentist appointments, grocery shopping and housework and try to add a fourth child and homeschooling to it!  What will happen to my time? I'm still not sure.

Obviously, I believe I can do this well, or I wouldn't try it.  However, I still struggle with doubts and fears.  It's a big thing to take on total responsibility for their education.  I have to mourn the things I imagined enjoying about the school experience.  Like all parents, I imagined watching school plays, science fairs and first bus rides.  While I am in the process of making this change, I am allowing myself leeway to make mistakes, miss certain parts of the school experience, and change the experience to work for us.

Since this blog is about me, my family and our journey, I've decided to include our homeschooling experience, which has become so entwined with all the other aspects of our lives.


  1. Beutifully said, Melissa!! And it's true, once you feel that it is God leading you, it's hard to articulate because there are so many plusses, and there is no 'specific' reason, but 100's of reasons why it is the best choice for you!! God bless!! Laura D :>)

  2. It's great to hear the whole story. Not that we've questioned your decision but it's useful to know this kind of stuff for when our kids start into the trek that is grade school. Also just wondering aloud, I wonder about a coalition of home schoolers; where the parents would alternate hosting/teaching the kids and work together on the carriculums. This could be a method to get the togetherness that such things like school plays, ect. allow while still remaining independent.

    Just a though :)

  3. @Laura: Thanks for all your support and encouragement!

    @Xean: Thanks, it is nice to have support from those around us. We live in a province with a very open and accepting attitude towards homeschooling. In fact, compared to what I have read about the regulations in other provinces and states, our requirements are very easy to meet. In most places, a coalition, or co-op, of homeschoolers is acceptable depending on how you organize and run it, but in others, it's actually illegal. There are lots of homeschool families that meet in groups to participate in things like field trips, or do things like plays or science fairs. It's so very different from area to area. There is a group that meets here in our city, and we know a couple of families that participate, so it's definitely something we're thinking of for fall.

  4. I am new to reading your blog but loving what I see. The ideas have been great and some I will for sure be putting to use. I myself have just started my own blog and am fast becoming addicted. We too have decided to do homeschooling in the fall. Not for quite the same reasons as yourself. My daughter was very severely bullied this year and her grades dropped so significally it made me scared. She dropped over 50 percentage points in one class and I was not notified of this. She failed 3 out of 4 core classes yet they still passed her on. I must admit that although I am excited about the possiblity I am also nervous and scared. My daughter is 13 and very much a full-blown teen, complete with hormones and all.
    However we decided this summer to do a trial run, we are reviewing her last years grade and if it all works we are most definately doing the homeschool thing. So far it is going fabulous. She is like a little sponge eager to learn so much more. She is doing science experiments and googling everything she can. I realise for your younger ones the google might not be as effective but it might be great for yourself.
    We live in Alberta and I found that the store scholars choice is fantastic. We bought some really good review books there and it also has amazing games and stuff for experiments. Although it is a 2.5 hour drive for me I still think I will try and hit up this store often.
    Out of curiousity can you tell me what home schooling program you decided to go with?

  5. Hi Sherri!
    Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying reading here, and I will gladly share with you what we picked.

    I typed up the whole answer, and blogger says it's too long to post as a reply! Haha! I'm going to post it on the blog so you can read it anyway :)


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