About 21 years ago, I started attending a church where it seemed like a lot of the congregation homeschooled their children. A lot of the people that I had made friends with were actually homeschooling. I felt like I was led there, through these friendships, to homeschool, and it has just been an adventure.
Around this time, my youngest was three or four, and I started getting interested about the things they were doing, like field trips and classes at museums. I was a protective mom; I had two children at the time. I liked the idea of my kids being with me all the time, so our interest in homeschool started from there.
My oldest was starting kindergarten when we started homeschool. My second oldest was two or three years old. You kind of start ‘homeschooling’ when you have children, because you’re already teaching them things like shapes and colors, so you’re really already doing it. You’re teaching your children, whether it’s daily habits or the impression of how you are around your children. We teach them, just by being their parents.
I had support along the way from the church community who were offering things I could use that they liked and tried. We would all go together and go to the homeschool store together, talk to the people there and get ideas from them. Years later, we started our own co-op where we went to one person’s house each week and that person would teach the lesson that week.
I think there’s a big difference in other kids that may be in public school, not necessarily across the board, but I noticed more of the homeschooling community being better behaved and more respectful of their parents and other adults. Another thing I like is that children of all ages with homeschool families can carry on adult conversations with other adults. Other kids I’ve come in contact with don’t have those same skills. It’s not just about math and reading, you’re teaching them character building and proper behavior.
In the beginning of our homeschool experience, I was married and had a larger income so we could afford textbooks and curriculum pretty easily. Sometimes it was a couple hundred dollars a year. Now, I don’t have to go out and buy as much because of the materials that I have collected over the years. That’s something that I share with others because it doesn’t have to cost a lot. It would be nice to have funds that go towards purchasing these materials. We do pay those school taxes that we don’t get to use at all. The library has materials and there are free sources online. It can cost a lot, thousands of dollars a year if you choose to use a certain program.
I now work to help other homeschool families, with the Texas Homeschool Association. Moving from the parent role, to now working with other parents to help them navigate the system, I love it. I love talking to people and reassuring them that they can do it; that they already are teaching their children at home. For those who think they can’t do it, we have to tell them you are the teacher, you are the principal. You’re everything that the school was to them if you took them out of the school or if your student is in kindergarten, you become what the school would be to them.
Some say they can’t afford to pay for anything and I can tell them of cost saving opportunities if needed because learning doesn’t have to be expensive. Learning is about learning and giving your kids a love of learning. Use what your child likes to do and make it a unit of study. It really helps with kids of all ages to do unit studies because they will learn on their age level. And there are so many resources out there now.
I think technology has helped in a lot of ways for that because there are a lot of resources you can use for free and virtually. You can view things across the world things you could only look at encyclopedias 20 years ago.
We are thankful that Texas is one of those free states that you can have the choice with the education of your child. You have the choice to be able to do that. Take the opportunity to make the choice for what’s best for you and you family. That’s key for me. What’s best for my family might not be best for another family, but maybe they have another option that works best for them.