When my older girls were very little, I planned to homeschool them, at least up through elementary school. I figured I’d put them into school in 6th or 7th grade, and they’d have “normal” middle and high school experiences. Well, as fate would have it, I was a newly single mom when it was time for Lakin to enter kindergarten, and I needed to go to work, so she went into public school, and Addah went into a Montessori preschool.
From there, I just assumed we’d stick with public school until the girls graduated and went on to college. As time has gone on though, more and more signs have pointed toward homeschool as a very viable option again. Lakin’s medical issues have made it clear that she does much better in a one-on-one educational setting, as opposed to a large classroom setting. When we started researching homeschool for Lakin, Addah became very interested and asked if I could homeschool her as well.
“Sure,” I said, “why not?”
We’re fortunate to live in a state that makes life pretty easy for homeschooling families. In South Carolina, we are considered “third option” homeschoolers, which means that we’re signed up under a homeschool accountability group, we agree to teach the four main subjects of English, Math, Social Studies, and Science, students must attend 180 days of school, and we keep records to prove these things. Within just a few days of making the final decision to bring Addah home for school, we had her paperwork done, a curriculum ordered, and her withdrawn from school.
I wasn’t worried about my ability to teach her what she needs to know, especially given a curriculum to follow. My concern was for her music classes, as she had signed up for band this year to learn the flute. I can sing, and I can read music, but I cannot play the flute (or any other instrument, sadly). It turns out that she wasn’t enjoying the flute as much as she could have been, because she wasn’t meshing very well with the teacher. We agreed that we would seek out an extracurricular music class, and in the meantime, she continues to practice at home.
Deciding on a curriculum to use was a little daunting, to say the least. There are so many options, and it all depends on what kind of educational style you’re interested in. Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, classical, unschooling… oh my! We finally settled on Oak Meadow, a progressive and experiential Waldorf-based homeschooling curriculum. I love that it’s flexible and encourages artistic expression. I love that it focuses on project-based learning. I love that it fosters great communication skills, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. I love that it’s all laid out for us, but in such a way that we can drive the lesson in a way that fits our needs. Really, I couldn’t be happier with Oak Meadow for our family.
We’re about 5 weeks into our homeschooling adventure right now, and I don’t know that we’ll ever look back at public school. Addah is thriving in her lessons and seems so much happier and relaxed than she did before. Lakin is still enrolled in her virtual charter school program for the moment, because it’s the best fit for her needs right now, but the plan is to homeschool her as well, once her current program ends.
Our most frequently asked question has been “what are you going to do about socialization?”. It turns out that there’s a whole network of families who homeschool tweens and teens in our area, and we’ve had to pick and choose events and activities, so as not to be over-scheduled. Addah’s getting more socialization now than she did when she was in public school.
I feel empowered, and I believe Addah does too, by taking her education into our own hands. We’ll keep reevaluating as time goes on, to make sure we’re meeting her needs and accomplishing our goals, but for now we’re happy with the path we’re on. It’s exciting and refreshing having the world as our classroom, and it’s much less scary than I thought it would be.