That is THE question.
I've always pondered homeschooling for our children, but it has always come down to one thing - commitment and patience. I'm not 100% sure I'd have either when it came to homeschooling our children, especially when there are other children at home who need attention, too. Living here in Maine, the schools in our town are fabulous, it is a small, quiet town that has a lot to offer families. While I've questioned whether or not to homeschool, it has always come down to the same answer - Mairead would go to Kindergarten here in Maine. The friends Mairead has from our town and preschool are wonderful and so are their families. Now that we are almost 100% moving to Virginia, we (yes, even Kevin) are questioning whether or not public Kindergarten would be best for our daughter and our family.
I've done research on schools, and while they have good reputations, do very well academically, they are large and have some issues I am just not quite into - I am a small town girl and we've seen just how wonderful small town living can be for some. For example, in Fairfax County, some Kindergarten programs are full day and some are half, though the curriculums for each program are the same. I've heard the children who are sent to half day programs are sent home with a large amount of work to cover the things they do not have time to cover in school - so remind me again why I can't just keep her at home if I am going to have to teach her myself? Call us selfish, but we love our sweet, innocent little girl. I know children have to grow up at some point, but how fast is too fast? I want to keep her young and I want her to develop at her own pace. I know a lot of people say, how could you seclude your children? Not socialize them? Well, the great thing about living in Northern Virginia is the fact they have a ton and I mean a ton of homeschooling groups that participate in weekly field trips, outings, play groups, and lots of other opportunities to socialize - did I mention Mairead (and Lilah) is currently in dance class, swim school and has participated in soccer, and she's not in Kindergarten, so I am sure no matter where we live Mairead would have plenty of socialization with other children whether she attended public school or not. Not only does Northern Virginia have a ton of homeschooling groups, there is a ton to do and explore from parks to museums to history to well, just about anything and everything that would be great for all of our children....who says Mairead has to learn Kindergarten from home? There is so much to learn for all of us...and homeschooling will force us to take advantage of everything there is to offer.
Another issue is preschool. If we were going to live here in Maine, we would be having Lilah begin preschool this fall, in which she is so very excited to participate in! I've done some research on preschools and maybe I am missing something but everything seems very very expensive, very agressive academically and did I mention expensive? Many preschools I have seen range in price from $8-10K per year.........Mairead goes to a preschool now that is what I call "unacademic" - they don't focus on their ABCs or major concepts like that, they focus on the little things and learning how to socialize, be in a classroom and learn more concepts - it is awesome and a curriculum both Kevin and I fully believe in. I am hoping I am just missing something, but I've researched schools for several days now, read a lot of forums and other articles, and it confirms my suspicions. I am hoping our friends who live there currently will be able to ease my mind a bit about this.
This decision to homeschool or not is not one we will not take lightly. It is a huge decision and we will make sure we research, read and explore as much as possible to make the best decisions for our children and family. I surely think about having all four children at home, while teaching (and honestly makes my head spin just a bit...), and the big one - not having any time to myself, but right now, life isn't about me, it is about our children, and making sure we guide them in the direction we feel is right - life isn't about raising children, it is about raising positive members of society. Homeschooling isn't for everyone, I am not even sure it is for us, but, at this point, both Kevin and I see a lot of positives for our family in homeschooling. We are thankful to have several friends who choose homeschooling for their children and they have been extremely helpful.
What I do know is that Kevin and I are educated individuals who want the best for our children. We both know we have a very bright almost 5 year old who is eager to learn no matter what setting she is in - and from others who have chosen homeschooling for their Kindergartener, they have said it is pretty cut and dry and not as time consuming as one would think. It excites me that both Kevin and I could be so involved in our childs education and continuing to teach them about life. So, at this point, it's just the beginning of exploration for us - choosing what paths are best for each of our children and our family, taking it day by day, month by month, year by year. It will surely be a year filled with lots of changes - both positive and negative!