• Amy Bender

My Homeschool Journey Starts Today!

As long ago as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. I was never a pretend play type kid, but if there was a chalk board and some stuffed animals I was all about playing school. I remember as a kid my mom bringing me to her classroom before school would start and my favorite thing to do would be to write on the chalkboard.

Why is it that a chalk board was so exciting to write on when I was a kid?

Well, surprise, surprise, I became a teacher. I taught for 4 years and then decided to stay home with my first born after that. The teacher in me never really left and my son was "homeschooled" by me since he was 1 years old. When he became of actual school age it just felt right to homeschool him, but at the time I was pregnant with my 4th child and had a bunch of infants and toddlers running or crawling around.

Into the first year of homeschooling, I realized I could not give him the time that was needed to homeschool him right and my kids were at so many different stages that I felt so overwhelmed. The following year he entered public school, which was the track line for all of my kids after that. We figured, when we reached middle school age we would pull them out and start homeschooling them one by one.

Each year that passed I admired those of my friends that were homeschooling. I always wished I had the "skills" to juggle all of that. Then my oldest became of the age we said we would start homeschooling and in the process of that change we also changed schools which allowed me to keep my 2nd son home too as I didn't want to put him into school for a year only to pull him back out. I was so excited. It was going to be amazing having them home with me and see their educational growth.

It was like butterflies and rainbows until the 2nd week of school. The homeschool excitement wore off, there were frustrations, yelling, lots of crying, and the kids were not as excited either. Yes, I was a mess. I looked into middle schools to re-enroll them, looked at so many options, but it wasn't until I realized that homeschool and traditional school are not the same that things changed for us. They didn't need an 8-2 schedule. We did our work, took a break, went on a field trip, etc. Learning happened, but it wasn't always at a desk. It was on the coach, cuddled up reading a book and discussing, it was in a car on a drive to a museum. I started loving it.

We did that for 2 years and now my oldest was getting ready for high school, my second was getting ready for 7th grade, and my little ones were going to continue at their elementary school. Then COVID.

I feel like that just says everything in those 2 words. "Then COVID".

Kids were home. They were ALL home. ALL the time. I LOVED IT!! What?!?!

Never did I ever imagine myself homeschooling all 5 at one time. I was always looking forward to the day that they graduated 5th grade and they would start their homeschooling the following year. When school looked like it wasn't going to return and virtual options were on the table for starting the school year, I remembered the stress of the Distance Learning we had to conclude the year and I just couldn't do it. I was a ball of anxiety, worried about pulling them away from their friends, a school they loved so much, and matching that with my anxiety of sending them to a petri dish with the back and forth, unknown and unstructured environment that is physical school right now.

One day my husband just asked me what it was that was causing so much stress and anxiety. When I unpacked this debate that had been going on in my head, he was able to be a voice of reason, asking me that if I knew the kids were going back to school in 2 weeks what would I decide to do? I immediately said pull them out and homeschool them. Then he said, ok, looks like you made your decision. As soon as he said that it was like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders.

See I was trying to stay quiet and battle it in my head because I wanted to not make a decision that was not equally supported by others. I wanted to make others happy and in turn created a toxic stressful environment for myself.

That next week I looked at homeschool options and realized that all 5 at different ages and stages was going to be hard and I needed help. Especially my oldest in 9th grade and he is in Trig and Pre-Calc. Ummm, I struggled helping my elementary aged kids with their math. Not my strong area. I decided to enroll them in K12.

The difference between K12 and FLVS is that K12 has books and textbooks they physically hold and materials they use.They are given art kits, and science experiment materials. In FLVS everything is online. Even their textbooks are online. I feel there is value in holding a book. This is nothing against FLVS. My son did their FLEX program for Language Arts last year, but for a full time curriculum I wanted them holding a book.

So that is where we are. The older kids started today, the younger ones start next week and this is going to be an amazing year. Will it be hard.. Yes. Will I have moments I want to break down and quit...Absolutely! Will we press through and grow together... You bet ya!

This year I have a 9th grader, a 7th grader, a 5th grader, a 3rd grader, and a 2nd grader.

I know this year will be challenging to so many including myself, but I want you to know you are not alone. You can do this.


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