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When I first became a mother nearly 18 years ago, I dreamed of homeschooling my children. I knew several moms that embarked on this journey and it just made sense for my family. I was an educated stay-at-home-mom and I was passionate about all aspects of motherhood, including my children's education. It was all hearts and rainbows at the time, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them, give them a peaceful and free environment to blossom, and grow and learn at their own pace. I wanted freedom. I was excited for the adventure of homeschooling.
Over the years, we've made homeschooling suit our lifestyle instead of the other way around. We homeschooled independently (literally, you are acting as your own "private school" in your home, per the state of California) for several years when the children were really young. When my kids were in need of some socialization, we joined a homeschool co-op. It was there that we met our homeschooling community and my children made friends that they're still connected with.
It was also at this time that I realized I needed help with subjects I wasn't so good at teaching, such as science and math. They were able to take classes once a week and get a taste of "school" and the classroom. I taught an art class while my kid's enjoyed math games, poetry, writing and biology. That worked out really well for us for several years until it got to be too expensive for our one-income family. That's when I made the switch to a charter school.
It took me some time and some tough love to come to this conclusion, but I'm failing at homeschooling. My dream was to homeschool my six kids and I really wanted it to happen—but life changes.
In California, a charter school is a school that receives public funding but operates independently of the public school system in the area. This means I was now able to get educational support from a credentialed counselor, my children could receive funds for curriculum and activities (such as sports and music lessons) and I could get the much-needed help navigating the next phase of my children's education, which was middle school and high school. We've been in a charter school for the past seven years and my kids take classes at a learning center twice a week.
Listen, homeschooling is hard. It's a huge commitment and it basically takes over your whole life. And to be totally honest, after having some really great people teach my children various subjects over the years, I realize that I'm not the best teacher for them. Sure, I love them dearly and want what is best for them—as most mothers do—but in order to continue loving them dearly and not wanting to wring their necks, I'm starting to believe someone else needs to be teaching them on a daily basis.
I am now in my twelfth year of homeschooling. My two oldest children are set to graduate next January and my youngest child is currently in fourth grade. It took me some time and some tough love to come to this conclusion, but I'm failing at homeschooling. My dream was to homeschool my six kids and I really wanted it to happen—but life changes. I'm a work-from-home mom now and it's practically impossible to homeschool my kids adequately. Taking care of six children, keeping on top of their studies, their emotional needs, various sports activities, housework, wifely duties and working as a freelance writer from home has proved to be too much for me.
This is why I'm ready to give up homeschooling.
I'll admit, I've been stubborn. I held on to that homeschooling dream for far too long. Our life is just not in the same place it was 10 years ago. Now I am ready to make a few changes, such as enrolling my three youngest children in a traditional five-days-a-week public school. Still, it gives me heart pains. I feel guilty. Guilty because I don't want to short-change my kids in any way and guilty because it took me so long to come to this decision to do what's best for them. But I feel good about it and I'm beginning to think that once it's all said and done, I'm going to wonder why I didn't make this choice years ago.