One of the most popular questions we get asked is “Why do we homeschool” or “How did we decide to homeschool”.
Today, I give answers to these questions; so whether you’re considering homeschooling or if you’re just a bit curious about homeschooling, hopefully our story or our experience will leave you with a bit more information.
WE’VE NEVER DONE SCHOOL
So, we have 4 kids aged 2 to 9 and have been homeschooling each of them since Day 1…as in, none of our kids have attended school.
You might have seen the other post where I’ve briefly answered this question, but today I’ll answer it in a bit more depth.
And I’ll split the answer into two points: 1) How we got into homeschooling & 2) Why we choose to homeschool
HOW I GOT INTO HOMESCHOOLING
Home education for me happened incidentally really ….because I was at home with the kids. I don’t know exactly at what point I even came across the idea of homeschooling but I know that before my husband and I got married, we started having conversations about the kind of family life we wanted.
At the time, I was working in corporate and I knew that:
1) we wanted a big family (& I mean a big family, people think we have a big family now & I roll my eyes, like, we have 4 kids…maybe we can call it medium-sized…haha!…like, we wanted an actual big family!).
2) I knew that I’d want to spend more time with our kids in the formative years when we eventually started having them….I wanted to be the primary care giver
I also knew that the corporate culture in South Africa wouldn’t give me the kind of family life that I wanted or envisioned.
Soooo…before we even started having kids, my husband and I made the decision that I’d leave the corporate life. I decided I wanted to rather pursue business from home so that I could be able to have more time to spend with our children when the eventually arrived.
So then, when we had our first child, I was home with her, I was based at home and she didn’t go to preschool, so at some point, we started learning at home bit by bit, year by year.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Our kids are all about 2 years apart, which means that every 2 years we were having a baby, and once they were around the toddler stage, I’d start doing stuff with them at home.
So, at some point, 3 kids later, the “first baby” was now 6….and we’d technically been homeschooling all along right? …but we hadn’t really really said, “Listen, this is absolutely what we’re doing…”
I mean over the years , I’d read up quite a bit on homeschooling and we’d made the effort to even meet and have conversations with some homeschooling families, so we were maybe 90% leaning on the homeschooling idea.
But it was then when Kumi was 6 that we had to really consider whether we were going to look for schools or whether we wanted to homeschool through the primary years as well.
HOW LONG DO WE PLAN ON HOMESCHOOLING FOR?
Let me say , we’re not opposed to schools hey. Every alternative has its pros and cons. If we felt like the best thing to do for our kids or for one of them is for them to be in school, that’s what we’d do, put them in school.
We try to hold our lives (and everything in them) with open hands.
Sometimes people ask us “Are you planning on homeschooling your kids till Matric?”, and we actually don’t know! We don’t know what the future holds, we don’t know what the future holds for us as a family, we literally plan to take it as it comes, a year at a time. We’ll get to the end of this year and evaluate our lives, and the kids education; and evaluate whether their current education is serving them, is serving us as a family, and if they are individually and collectively thriving, and we’ll make a call.
And the same really goes with the rest of our lives, with the things that we do, we try evaluate every now and again, to see if we’re still going the direction we should be going in, are we putting our hands to what we feel like we should be, you know what I mean?
So, that’s how we got into homeschooling….initially “incidental”.
So now…Why Do We actually Homeschool??
WHY WE HOMESCHOOL
There are soooo many benefits of homeschooling….that’s an entire post on its own that I’ll actually do; but if you are considering homeschooling, I’d really recommend doing a simple Google or Pinterest search on the benefits of homeschooling to really get an idea; or even better look up “pros and cons of homeschooling” so you can get a balanced view. And also to just see how different people do and approach their homeschooling.
So, the very first book that I ever read on homeschooling was so liberating for me. And no, it wasn’t a “How to homeschool” guide or anything but it was a compilation of stories of families that homeschool….I think it was about 10 or so families, and each family had a different story on how and why they decided to homeschool; but each family also had a different approach, and were using different kind of resources, each family’s day was different…I mean, there was even a single mother who homeschooled when she came back from work.
So that for me really gave me the freedom to know that you make your homeschool what you want and need for it to be.
Because the first question people ask me is “What curriculum do you use” & then I’m like “we don’t follow a curriculum” and they’re like “wait, what?” lol!
But that’s also another episode/post we’ll do. (Yoh, there’s so much to share…we have lots of information to share with you —-giving you the content you signed up for!…haha!)
Ok ok….getting back into it….
I’m just gonna go through some of the reasons why homeschooling was and continues to be a more appealing decision for us. Like I said, there are quite a lot, but I’ll briefly go through the ones that we value the most.
Let me start by saying, we chose to homeschol because we saw it as an option…..unlike most people (at least in South Africa).
Like I said, I don’t remember when or how I came across the idea of homeschooling but for me, it was a real education option or alternative …just as I saw working for myself as an alternative to being in corporate, if you know what I mean.
So when people ask, why do you homeschool, I’m always like “Why not?”.
I know it’s not necessarily the popular option but There isn’t just one particular path to “an education”
Homeschooling is just another path; and homeschooled kids go to university, get great jobs, have great relationships, start great businesses (usually before they even finish school); and they don’t become these weird people in society.
Ok ok….on to the reasons for real 🙂
SPENDING TIME TOGETHER
When I was speaking about how I got into homeschooling, I talked about how it basically came about because I wanted to spend more time with the kids. So, for us, that’s still one of the main reasons why we still choose to homeschool now, especially because our children are still young.
If you read any research on early childhood development, they always talk about how critical parental presence and influence is, particularly in the formative years.
We ideally want for our children (especially in the early years) to spend more meaningful time under parental influence than with anyone else in their life.
For us, I think it’s helped us to build really strong bonds and deep relationships because while the combination of mainstream schooling and corporate culture separates families for most of the day, homeschooling allows families to be together for most of the day. And of course, some people prefer to have their kids away for the day & that’s ok but that’s not what we want for ourselves….so that’s one of the main things for us as a family
I love that homeschooling allows us to have more of an input in our kids education.
And education is such a broad thing, it’s much more than sums and numbers and facts.
I love this definition that I found on Wikipedia; it says “Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.” And I love that with homeschooling we get to have more of an input in terms of the knowledge, the skills, the values, beliefs and habits that our kids take on.
We also get to have more of an input in how they learn. Kids learn differently, and with homeschooling, you’re able to tailor your approach to your child’s needs.
And also, children don’t always learn at the standardized pace that’s set out in schools.
So, for example, I could have a 7 year old child whose brain is not ready to handle the set or standardized Grade 1 reading curriculum, for example. But that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with his or her learning, just that their brain is not ready to process that kind of information, and that’s totally ok, because children are not robots, they develop at different ages. Like, you’ll have a child walking at 9months and another at a year and a half. Is the one who walked at 9 months smarter? No, they’re not.
What typically happens to that child in school??
Low grades / frustration for both parent & child, which ultimately taints the child’s confidence and their learning experience.
The same child who’s brain is not ready to process “Grade 1” reading might have a brain that processes mathematical concepts really well, .and be beyond the Grade 1 maths curriculum.
In school, what would happen to that child?
They’d probably be classified as an average learner. Why? Because they would probably struggle with their reading, resulting in low grades. And they might either excel in maths or even end up so bored that they perform averagely.
Enter homeschooling, and I’m able to do reading with my child at the level they’re currently at, and they thrive in reading. And we manage to whiz our way through maths concepts without them being labeled as anything.
This is what tailoring your child’s education to their needs looks like, because education is not linear.
And I’ve actually had this very experience with one of my kids, where we hit a snag in reading; and I actually decided, “You know what? We’ll give it a break for a couple of months”, because there was just a gap and learning was becoming frustrating. And I didn’t want that experience for them or myself. And honestly, when we picked it up again, I could tell that those few months had really made a difference in closing that gap.
So, homeschooling doesn’t just cater well to a child’s learning pace, but their learning styles as well. Some learn better visually, some are tactile, some auditory, etc; but again we’ll chat a bit more on that on a separate episode where we go through the pros and cons of homeschooling.
FOCUSING ON THE STRENGTHS AND PASSIONS OF EACH CHILD
This is one of the things that are important for us when it comes to an education.
1) Homeschooling helps us discover our kids passions and strengths early in life, and gives us the flexibility to help them develop those things fully, without being constrained by things like homework, lack of time, etc.
We’re huge believers in not waiting for a certain qualification or age to start pursuing certain things. If you’re entrepreneurial, let’s not wait for you to get a business degree or for you to be a certain age before you start a business.
You know, as a kid, I was actually so entrepreneurial, I had my own spaza shop when I was in primary school, without anyone’s assistance. I would take a taxi, and go to town to buy supplies for ice lollies, chips, etc; and then get back home and make and pack everything; and manage the money, etc.
And then I moved when I was in high school. And then in varsity, I registered for a BCom Accounting, which I think I could’ve avoided if I’d had proper parental guidance and counsel, because I went on to rediscover my entrepreneurial spirit two decades later!
Ok, back to our kids 🙂
We’re able to tailor our days to the kids passions & to spend a bit more time pursuing things that they’re actually interested in – we know that we’re all able to learn better when we’re learning about things that interest us.
And not to say you can’t do it when your kids are at school, you definitely can and should be pursuing their interests but homeschooling affords you more flexibility & time to do so.
Our eldest loves baking & cooking, and I make sure to include a time in our week where she can express that; where she can cook & bake, and try new recipes.
And even for younger kids, I found it helped me to incorporate what I know they love into their lessons
For example, our boys both absolutely love animals. When they were younger & I was teaching them, say number concepts, I would always take out their animals to teach them the concepts, and it would always be a fun exercise for them.
I love that we get to do stuff together because our schedule is flexible. We love travelling, and we can travel any time of the year, for however long we want to :). We’re not constrained by school calendars and we can actually travel at off peak seasons at reasonable rates!
We determine our own schedule!
And we actually have a 4day week. We typically take Mondays off to just hang out as a family, and go see places, play, eat out, etc
Yoh, this is one of my faves! So guys, we don’t have a lot of money, if you’re reading this, you most likely have more money than us!! lol! So homeschooling works perfectly for us!
You can spend a lot or little on homeschooling depending on your approach. In fact there are even websites dedicated to helping families to homeschool for free.
I believe in good books so I do make sure we’re exposed to good literature but I’m also very frugal. I’ve bought a lot of things second hand, we’ve gotten books from the library, we’ve been given books by friends as well. And on a lot of workbooks where possible I try to use them for all the kids. So I’ll buy one book and make sure we use pencil to answer so we can erase it and keep it for the next kid 🙂 (I told you I was frugal lol!)
And of course, not everyone is like me, but I love that about homeschooling. In fact this year, I’ve hardly spent anything on the other 3 but I’ve mainly bought stuff for Kumi, our first born.
Ok, I’ve definitely said a lot but have so much more to share!
I’m in the process of creating more content to share our experience, hoping that it will somewhat help other homeschooling parents on their journeys.
I’d love to hear from you…do you have any questions, what did you think of the post, do you homeschool, why did you start, are you looking to homeschool?
Please let me know in the comments
If you found this post helpful, please do share it with other parents on the same journey. I would really love for this information to go out far and wide, especially because there isn’t a lot of content in South Africa on homeschooling.
Lastly, on my Instagram page, I have we have some IG Live Session we’ve done where we answered some of the questions typically asked. Catch them here.
Thank you for reading