There are a few pivotal moments that stand out to me as being instrumental in helping me choose to homeschool my children.
When my oldest was 2 weeks old
The first one was when my first child, Kylie was only a couple of weeks old. I took her for a walk in the stroller and as we came up to some train tracks the guards went down and the DART train came by. Knowing how much kids love trains I got all excited. I started saying, “Train!” and doing “train” in sign language. I looked at my tiny baby and she was sound asleep in her carseat on the stroller. I signed “train” again and was almost disappointed that she didn’t wake up and be all excited. I was very familiar with infant development and knew a newborn wouldn’t care about a train or be able to learn sign language yet, but it hit me how excited I was to start teaching my children and I literally couldn’t wait until they were older. As the train went by and the guards went up, a zing with through my body and a ding went up in my mind that I wanted to teach this little bundle of joy everything I could and I would be her main teacher.
When people ask me when I started homeschooling I tell them when my first was 2 weeks old because starting then I got in this teacher mode and was always on the lookout for things to teach her. I made her black and white flashcards, helped her learn to roll over, grab toys, coo, etc. I read to her and talked to her and also gave her quiet time to figure things out on her own. I think it’s because I’m constantly in a teaching frame of mind that my children were early to master both gross motor skills and fine motor skills. In addition, they all potty-trained before the age of 2, most learned to read at age 3, and they were advanced at music and art as well. They’re not geniuses, I just loved teaching them. (But not in a pushy way, I noticed signs of interest and readiness then encouraged it. See child-led learning.)
When I had 4 little kids under 5
Another pivotal moment was when my 4th was born. It was July and sweltering hot in Dallas and the only fun thing we could think of to do was school. So while I rested on my bed nursing the baby, I gathered my other 3 little children, the oldest who was just 4 years old, around me and we did workbooks, read, and did simple crafts. It made my recovery time feel productive and fulfilling. That I could love doing school with 4 little kids ages 4 and under including a 2 day old baby, also hit me that I really do love to homeschool.
When It Was Time to Send My Oldest to School
Even though I loved doing preschool with my children, when it came time for Kylie to start school, I looked into sending her because I had loved school as a child and knew she would too. The law in Texas was that 4 year olds with fall birthdays couldn’t start kindergarten when they were 4 but if they passed a kindergarten test the next spring they were allowed to skip kindergarten and start first grade. The next spring I had Kylie tested and as she was already reading chapter books and doing multiple digit addition, she passed with flying colors. We toured the school where she would start and talked with the first grade teacher. She said her main goal was getting the Spanish speakers to learn English. It was a 97% hispanic school and when I asked what she would do with Kylie who, at age 5, could already read and write very well she just looked at me and said, “Nothing. Why did you teach her to read already?”
I had worked so hard to get her advanced for her age and I couldn’t bear the thought of her wasting this whole year sitting and waiting for others to catch up to her. So I decided to continue homeschooling with plenty of reasons to back me up: I had 3 little children at home and was pregnant with #5 and didn’t want to have to walk her to and from school every day at 7:30 and 2:30, loading the children into the stroller and disrupting afternoon naps. I loved teaching Kylie and Madalyn together and watching them play together all day. They were inseparable. I loved having the freedom to go wherever we wanted whenever without being tied to a school schedule. Lastly, I decided since it was our last year in Dallas it would be better to keep her home this year and enjoy our freedoms and next year put her in school with Madalyn (who would start kindergarten) so they could both go together. So this was my 3rd pivotal moment when I decided I would homeschool.
When We Moved To A New State
When we moved to North Carolina I took Kylie and Madalyn to tour their new school. It was brand new (as opposed to Dallas’ old school built in the 50’s) and beautiful. I knew they’d love the cubbies and having backpacks and everything else fun about school. We toured the school and on the way home I asked how they felt. Both girls said they got a yucky feeling there and didn’t want to go but continue to homeschool. I couldn’t believe it because I had felt the same way but I had been so sure we’d all love it. That school is a great school and part of me wanted them to go, but I also knew that homeschooling was right for us. I went home and fasted and prayed about it and got a direct answer to homeschool, so I got to work planning our school year and have never looked back. I’ve never questioned again but threw my all into it and have loved it. I’m so grateful I got that confirmation to homeschool because I have grown so close to my children because of it, have many wonderful memories of all the fun things we did together, and it truly has been a delight to be my children’s teacher. I feel like the most blessed mom in the world because I get to stay home with my children and learn and play with them all day.