Have you ever done something that challenged everything you thought you knew about life and parenting, and yet, you knew deep down that it was the right thing to do? The kind of thing that would set off the best adventures and opened your eyes to the opportunities that are yet to come?
This year, I took a chance on the possibility of living my life more fully and making an impact in my kids’ development. 2015 will forever be the year where my husband and I decided to homeschool our oldest two kids, a decision that was just that, life-changing.
Their curriculum is both online and with traditional textbooks
A year ago, I knew of a couple of families that homeschooled their children and thought to myself: I could never do that. I don’t have the patience, I’m not that organized, and my kids would resent me for pulling them out of regular school and they’d miss their friends.
Until, sometime in the middle of last year, in the heart of my busiest travel season ever, I realized that I wanted to share the moments I was so blessed to experience with my children as well. Book tours, events, and work travel would become shared adventures. I missed my children terribly when on the road, and even when they were gone at school most of the day.
Crafts related to their studies are part of their day
The second biggest reason for homeschooling my oldest two kids is because homework time brought out the worst of me as a parent and my kids. At the end of the day, they were tired. They had given their attention to their teachers and when it came to doing homework they were mentally checked out. Naturally, we fought a lot, and I didn’t like the type of parent they saw during that one hour or more before they were rushed off to activities.
The moment I realized that someone else was getting the best of my children’s time it was as if I was struck by lightning. I realized I needed to make changes (and big sacrifices), so I could get that time, for me.
Weekly public library visits help my kids explore the subjects they are interested to learn more about
And that was when a seed was planted and I begun discussions with the kids that next year something had to change; for me, for them, for our family. I didn’t know what life would look like, but I knew it had to be different. Just like that, I decided to homeschool, taking it one year at a time, and never looked back.
I will say, homeschooling isn’t for the weak of heart. It takes creativity to find activities to occupy the “school hours,” discipline to get through the curriculum you have planned, and the wisdom to know when your child needs to learn differently. We’ve already switched curricula twice and while they are not perfect, I feel like my kids are now more open to trying new things. Plus, the age-old questions: “How was your day?” and “What did you learn today at school?” are gone from our conversations. Instead, I too am learning to talk to my kids about life, without being rushed or tired after a long day; not because I want to check on how their day went, but because I am genuinely interested in what they think about what they are learning and doing.
So, how does a full-time working entrepreneur pull off homeschooling? Not without getting up earlier (and going to bed when the kids go to bed), drinking a lot of coffee, scheduling everything, and help -both at home and in the home office.
Homeschooling can be done from anywhere. Here, I took my kids to a café because it was a nice day
Finally, the ability to travel with my children is perhaps the biggest reason homeschooling was a priority. I’ve made it my mission to explore the world, one country at a time, with them. I want my kids to know and learn about other cultures -including my Spanish heritage and language, at times when it’s most convenient for my husband and me, without being limited by the school calendar.
Just recently, I took my oldest two kids to Spain for two weeks where we had the time of our lives. We are already planning the answer of “where to next?” Oh, and don’t worry, the little one will come with us too!
Homeschooling allows me to travel with my kids – Photo: recent trip to Spain
I’m often asked how long I plan on homeschooling my kids for (among a hundred other questions), and my answer is always the same: I am taking it one year at a time; for now, we want to live life to the fullest, as a family.
I partnered with Abbott to share our story as a part of their LIFE. TO THE FULLEST initiative, and I encourage you to visit the site and be inspired by other stories from all over the world where people have their own unique ideas about how living fully looks and feels. But there’s one thing we share: we each want to live the best life we can.
Hi Laura! I’m sorry if someone has already asked this of you, but would you be willing to share some of the curriculums you have found? Even the ones that weren’t best for you guys? There are so many out there! I’d love a list of a few that we could research for our own family 🙂 Thank you!!
We tried Abeka and liberty university online. there were some technical limitations to liberty and we couldn’t just select the courses we wanted. Abeka didn’t hold my kid’s interest and they found it to be a bit “cheesy” for their taste (they weren’t into the sing-alongs). Many states offer their K-8 curriculum online and resources on that. That’s where I would check first. Ultimately, we chose Standford’s Gifted and Talented program for Math and English and went to a tutoring center for Social Studies and Science. This year will be similar.
There are a lot of homeschool blogs out there and they have a lot more knowledge than I do. I do my own thing and go from there. I’ll be writing about this soon.
Hi there! Did you ever write an updated version of homeschooling? Also how Standford’s gifted and talented if working out for everyone? If so, could you by chance point me in that direction please. I am starting my kiddos on Stanford’s Gifted and Talented this coming school year, so excited!
I’ll be writing one very soon about this year. We’ve learned a lot. Standford’s gifted and talented was difficult for a child to follow and self-teach -at least in our experience. My kids did well with it but don’t expect your child to teach themselves. I realized that if I was going to sit down with my child to teach them math (or any subject) it was best to pull out a textbook and pen and paper -I found this to work best this year. We used our K-12 curriculum with workbooks and they did really well. We had the kids take the IOWA test (standarized testing) and they are on par with their grade. I hope this helps! 🙂
What a fantastic experience!
Wow, what an awesome opportunity.
I absolutely love homeschooling kids and I am so glad we made this transition a couple of years ago.
what an adventure!
I love homeschooling my kids. Can only recommend it!!
Homeschooling is such a blessing and adventure. I love it!
Thanks for sharing your experience! Would love to hear some more.
Love reading about homeschooling! Currently debating if I should start…
Laura, what a great chance for your family to experience this together and be able to exactly know what your kids are learning.
We started homeschooling 3 years ago and I have never regretted it! It is such a great opportunity for your family.
Wow, what an amazing thing to do!
I would love to this with my kids, but I’m afraid they are not going to like not being around their friends every day.
Homeschooling your children is so inspiring to me and truly a blessing!
Wow, this is truly inspiring. I wish I could homeschool my kids and have more freedom with them, but I don’t think I can do it. I am definitely not organized enough.
Mayra Rodriguez - Estilo Familiar
Congratulations Laura! Homeschooling is an adventure that requires a lot from us as parent, but give us joy, great moments and satisfaction. I have been homeschooling for the past 10 years, and each one of them have been different. Their needs change, their minds change and sometimes curriculums don’t work as well as before. Love seeing you enjoying your kids and showing them how to be entrepreneurs!
Hi! This will be our first year homeschooling (it’s pre-k for my son) and I would love if you could share any go-to resources that you have 🙂
This year we are doing homeschool by proxy using the A Beka program. Although we are not doing the teaching my child is learning so much more with only six children in the class. He actually wants to tell me about his day. He is in 6th grade. Our youngest will join him next year. I wasn’t looking forward to middle school for a variety of reasons and was happy with the teacher we had last year. Best decision ever! My child’s reading has improved ten fold, his vocabulary has increased and he loves the field trips/learn by experience trips. Much faster pace. Homeschool children can finish two grade levels in one year if they want to. There is a lot of wasted time in public school.
So happy you are seeing improvements and that your child is thriving! I also think it’s such a gift that you are able to experience it with him.
I honestly think that when my kids were younger and not loving their schools, had the internet/posts like this been available, it’s possible that I may have been inspired to home school my children. At the time, however, it didn’t even occur to me that home schooling was a plausible option. I’m sure your story has opened many eyes to the benefits and joys of home schooling Laura. So happy to read how beautifully this is working for your family and how your children are enjoying their time with you.
Thank you Kelly!
Good for you Laura! How brave and inspiring! The homework situation is stressful and ridiculous and such a time stealer. When I was a teenager, my dad was the Prime Minister of Jamaica. The experiences and exposure that I had during those years made me who I am today! You are enriching your children’s lives so much.
I would love to travel with my kids for a year. Can you tell me what a typical day on the road looks like when you’re traveling and working with them.
I should add that I get up very early in the morning to prepare myself for the day and tackle emails, office work, etc. This way, when they start school between 8:30-9am I can focus on them and not be distracted by what I have to do at the office. Two days a week they attend a local homeschooling center where they learn Science and Social Studies in a small group of 6 students. Other days we have voice lessons, library visits etc. There is also active learning time where I get some of my work done while they learn. What I love is that no two days are the same and we have the best adventures when we spend time together. Traveling with your dad sounds like the best experience ever!
Nicole R Myers
I am SO excited for your lifestyle change Laura! We are also a homeschool family! First grade, Kindergarten and preschool. Living on a single income doesn’t allow us to travel the way you get to, but the FREEDOM and all we gain from it is INDISPENSABLE!! You are clearly BLESSED and I pray for God’s Wisdom to abound toward you more and more. Thanks for sharing! And……… CONGRATULATIONS!!
Thank you so much! we are really excited for the flexibility too! This first year is an adjustment year for all of us but as you said, the experiences is what really makes it all worth it.
We are that crazy!!! We just made the leap this yr (my kids are in 5th and 3rd). So reassuring to see my thoughts put into words – this is exactly how we felt! Still lots of ‘tweaking’ that will happen but we are certainly loving that we put our intentions for our life first! (Including time to teach our kids about food and prepare your great recipes together!). I love reading about other homeschoolers journeys – thanks for your vulnerability! Please continue to share!!
Thank you so much Gretchen! I feel that the ongoing “tweaking” of our needs in this journey is part of what makes this adventure great.
Welcome to the journey! We started out to homeschool my daughter “a year at a time” in kindergarten…she’ll graduate in May! I’ve never regretted the decision, and treasure all the time we’ve had together. The flexibility is fabulous (I work part-time). She’s been able to do so much more than kids in brick school. Check out Sonlight curriculum for wonderful literature and support groups. A good homeschool co-op is great for you and kids.
That’s so neat that you’re able to homeschool your kids! It sounds like it’s really working out well for you. I would love to homeschool my youngest son, but my husband says no.
I am seriously thinking about homeschooling my son. He’s only 1 but I’m already thinking about school. I’m an early childhood educator and just quit my job to start my own business with my sister teaching parent and me Spanish classes. If our program seceeds within 3 years and I could spend time at home I would like to homeschool my son. I know exactly what you mean about fighting and being frustrated over homework. I had the same horrific experience with my oldest daughter who is now 22 years old and hates school. I don’t want to go through that with my son. I believe in teaching through concrete experiences and not sitting on a desk all day. I hope I get the chance to do that for my son but its scary. It’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I.e. if he fails I’m the one to blame. We will see. Thanks for sharing.
Homeschooling has been a fantastic option for my family. It has provided an opportunity to tailor education to each child’s individual needs. I can accelerate or scale back wherever needed. We know our children better than anyone else and are their biggest fans. It’s so rewarding to see their accomplishments and their effort first hand. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!!!
I make sure to show my children the wonder in the simple things of life. I plan time in our schedule for plenty of down time to be together. It is such a joy to see that my 2 yr old notices the birds at the bird feeder as he sits on the swing, or to be able to drop everything and run outside to catch snowflakes during the first snow of the year.
I love the idea to “live fully”. I have been using the phrase “live intentionally” as a jumping off point for scheduling, choosing every day to live life on purpose.
I Love the “live intentionally” goes great with my own journey to live fully. Thank you for sharing Cindy!
What wonderful news, Laura! You won’t regret it in the long term, I promise. We took the leap of faith 5 years ago when my children were 5 and 6 years old. I’ve had the odd wobble along the way but never once doubted that this is the right path for us. Allowing our children to experience the fullness of life in the real world – what could be wrong with that?!
Thanks for sharing! As a long time homeschool mom I am always excited when other moms come to the realization you had…someone else gets the best part of your kids day! I am a mom of 5 and started this journey when my oldest was 9. The next 2 kids never even set foot in a school and my 2 youngest love school and at times, homeschool. This year we are a bi coastal family and doing a 50/50 split half the year in a school and half homeschooling. We are enjoying getting to travel and have new experiences. We look forward to the next half of the year! Well done on taking a step on this adventure! There are many supportive organizations out there that I hope you can connect with. If you need any help I am also willing to share what I have learned on my 11 year journey thus far. I still have 11 to go!
Lea…I would love to learn about basic resources on homeschooling. Thanks!
Check out the National Park System ( http://www.nps.gov). They have a junior ranger program that my 2nd grader loves. That will work in the history/ science and travel all at the same time. At the parks, kids will receive a packet of activities then earn a badge once completed. My friend bought an RV and pulled her kids out of traditional school for a year just to travel the entire US and visit every National Park in the US! She home schooled the entire trip in the RV.
That sounds amazing! talk about living a full life with that trip! will look into it. thanks for the info!
Love, love, LOVE this post! You’ve beautifully expressed the heart of so many homeschoolers! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
I think it’s amazing what you’re doing. We’ve recently been thinking about home education for our youngest. She’s nearly 10 and suffers from Selective Mutism. Ironically, school is the only place where she doesn’t speak and she’s lacking enthusiasm about her learning as she doesn’t feel she’s been challenged enough. We’re thinking of teaching her at home this year and next and she can go back to high school. It’s a tough decision and will bring a lot of implications to our lives but if it’s the best for her then we’ll go for it.
I can tell you that all the reservations were mostly because of my own insecurities -not because I had doubts it would be the best thing for my kids. I also told myself that I’d never know unless I tried it! and well, once you try it you can decide. 🙂 good luck!
Did you end up homeschooling? We are wondering about the same with our 6 year old for the same reason. I would love to know how it worked out for you and your daughter?
I have often thought about this, but I work outside of the home, so I would never be able to juggle both (and honestly, I don’t think I am that organized). Do your children miss their friends and the playground interaction with peers of their age?
They miss their friends somewhat, but I am very diligent about making sure they have at least one play date with their friends per week. During the day, they also go to do things where other kids are present. Working from home is definitely the main thing that makes it possible, plus, I have hired help to assist with some of the chauffeuring that happens during the day (like Mondays and Wednesdays when they go to a local homeschool center for one hour to do science and social studies). That’s time I get to myself. Otherwise, I’ve learned to be very intentional with my time, much so now. I didn’t think I could do it, but here I am. I’m not the most organized when it comes to it but my kids are also very free spirited and don’t like to be rushed. For now, it works. Like anything new, there is always an adjustment period and the rest, one figures it out.
I absolutely love hearing about your homeschooling adventures! Can’t wait for more 😀
Sisters From Another Mister
My fav part for the longest time … planning a trip in August when everyone else has gone to school!!!
Definitely planning trips when it’s your best time to do so helps to live life fully!
Thank you for sharing! I would LOVE to do this for a year just so we could travel and experience life fully as a family without the confines a schedule. What grades are yours? How much time each day (average) do you spend on their work?
They are in 4th and 2nd grade. It’s taken a month and a half to find the right curriculum combination that works best for us. They probably spend 2-3 focused hours of work per day, then they do other educational activities that support what they are learning and want to learn. I have had to hire some help for the mid-day chauffeuring that happens but otherwise, I am home with them overseeing their work. This allows me to make a decision on what they need to thrive more.
Homeschooling has helped me focus on the things that are important in life like learning through experiences and getting to know my children better.