I’ve been planning to post this for a long time, but I needed the time and mental space to sit down and really process it all. When we first decided to homeschool our children, it was almost a knee-jerk thing. I just had this pit in my stomach about a new school year in South Korea, and Ryan and I felt very strongly called to pull the boys and do it ourselves. Now, we’re well into our second year of homeschooling, and I feel a little more capable about sharing why we chose to homeschool our kids and how we’re doing it.
Why We Chose to Homeschool Our Children
First and foremost, I want to caveat all of this with the fact that this our lived experience. I firmly believe parents know their children best and should be able to choose how their school journey looks together. In the case of our children, we had such a disjointed start that I feel like a public school journey was almost doomed from the get-go. Nevertheless, the first couple of years went like this:
Covid hit, and Spencer started Kindergarten year doing virtual school. We quickly learned he couldn’t sit still, and he really struggled staring at a screen solely doing audio-led classes. We made the decision to pull him from virtual public school and enrolled him in a local Catholic school that was still doing in-person learning – though masked. Spencer still struggled. He had a hard time differentiating between sounds and he struggled flipping his letters. After we moved to South Korea, he attended the school on base – again masked – and fell further behind. His teacher said he simply needed to “try harder.” But we watched him. He was trying.
We hired a tutor (here’s looking at you, Traci!), and she quickly recognized all the same things we did, raising the possibility that he might just be dyslexic. Little by little, she worked with him weekly to bolster his confidence in reading, encourage his need to move while learning, and supported him. By the end of the year, he was on track…just on the lower end of the grade. Porter, meanwhile, was thriving in Kindergarten.
The Start of Our Homeschool Journey
When it came time to register the kids for the next school year (second grade for Spencer and first grade for Porter), I did it, but I did it with a heavy heart. All I saw from Spencer was apathy in regard to reading and learning, and it absolutely broke my heart. To top it all off, South Korea was finally opening back up, the idea of them sitting within the confines of a classroom broke my heart.
In the space of three hours, I pulled the boys from school and dove in headfirst. Traci supported the decision, Ryan supported it wholeheartedly, and friends started sharing with us what worked for them. I ordered their curriculum, and we jumped in with both feet. We quickly discovered that neither boy was particularly motivated after 12 PM. They both worked best in the morning, and that worked well for me; we could knock out their work first thing.
What Homeschool Looks Like for Us Today
Homeschool has been a huge learning curve for all of us in more ways than one. Rather than crushing homework into an hour of tears and angst with the boys each evening, we work hand-in-hand each morning. I know where they are in the learning process, and they know I’m not just trying to check a proverbial box. I’m learning just as much as they are. The best thing is that homeschool, for us, is unconfined. We adjust, we pivot, and we learn on our time.
Some days, I can tell the boys are more motivated than others. Some days, I can see the frustration run deep with Spencer, so we slow down. We read on the floor. We spell out loud while on the monkey bars. We’ve discovered he works best while he’s doing something else, while Porter seems to be able to do it in a standard sort of sit-down fashion. Regardless, homeschool looks fluid for us, and I think that’s why it works. For now, Mieke is learning through osmosis, though we focus about a half hour a day on letters, and that’s enough.
What Our Homeschool Looks Like
Part of our homeschool journey has been unlearning a lot of what the institution of learning looks like. It’s less competitive. Less structured. Less forced. Our homeschool day may start in the snow learning why no two snowflakes look alike, or it may start with 30 minutes of spelling before Mieke wakes up. We generally do our formal schooling within a matter of two hours. And yes, it absolutely begs the question…what did they do with the other six hours in the school day?
Ultimately though, our homeschool journey is one of flexibility. We travel more, we adventure, we ride our bikes and learn to skateboard, we learn in books and in person. We learn on our time. It’s been a beautiful gift of time back for all of us, though it hasn’t been without its own unique challenges. I’ll absolutely share more about homeschooling down the road but, for now, I simply wanted to share our homeschool journey in the hopes that it might help someone else who’s thought about it once or twice along the way.