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Why homeschooling is not a year-by-year decision for our family

Homeschooling all the way

It’s that time of year when homeschooling families all around us are making decisions for the upcoming year—new curriculum, new co-ops, enrolling kids in private or public schools for the upcoming year.

Many of my friends approach homeschooling on a year-by-year, child-by-child basis, deciding each year what is best for each of their children, an approach that’s often applauded because it’s very sensitive to the needs of each child.

But that’s not our approach. For us, homeschooling is it.

That’s not to say that we’d never consider an alternative because my children’s needs are also important to me. If we were facing extenuating circumstances—a learning disability that we hadn’t been able to address, a strain on a relationship that might have permanent consequences, a sports talent that needed an outlet—we would begin to consider other options.

But when we moved to our home in the boonies—in one of the lowest ranked counties in one of the lowest ranked states in the United States—it was with a commitment to homeschool all the way through. If we needed to consider traditional schooling, our options would be moving to a better school district or commuting to a private school; public middle or high school in our county are simply not on the table.

And here’s the secret: for the most part, that actually makes it easier on all of us.

A couple of years ago, we did have some serious heart-to-heart discussions realizing that something either needed to change in our approach to school or we needed to consider one of the options above. But now that we’ve found our homeschooling groove (which is not to imply that things always go smoothly, because they don’t), it’s a relief to know that this is what we’re doing. The end.

Similar to my decision to have drug-free labors and births, leaving no room in my mind for the possibility of drugs, taking the option off the table completely keeps it from teasing and tempting me on the hard days.

And my kids know that while we’re willing to consider different curricula and schedules, going to school isn’t an option (as much because of the quality of the schools as the flexibility of our lifestyle, in all honesty), so it’s not something they whine or dream about either.

We are just on the cusp of middle school, and there may be days in the future when we get more push-back from our kids on this decision. But for us, it’s really a family decision rather than an individual decision—because we’re able to do things like travel for weeks at a time, go skiing every Thursday, take off for a month at Christmas, and much more—and I think setting up that expectation early (and talking about it openly) has made a difference.

How do you approach homeschooling? Is it a year-by-year decision? A permanent one? Something in between?