Guest post by Kellie Gillespie, a mom of three and journalist who lives in Roeland Park, KS.
Me before homeschooling:
Me after nearly a year of homeschooling:
I’m not a teacher. I’ve no training or formal classroom experience. But, in spite of those facts, I was convinced–utterly certain–homeschooling was what my seventh grader needed and that we could make it work.
School had been a perpetual struggle for my oldest son. But it was okay because JP was in a wonderful elementary school. I had his teachers’ backs, they had mine, and we worked together to help JP be successful.
Then came middle school.
After 10 weeks of a fantastic downward spiral, I pulled the plug on my oldest child’s public education and assumed the role of mom and teacher.
In some ways, it was really great. His anxiety level dropped to almost zero. We were having actual conversations. JP got to explore what he was interested in and delve deeper into science, art, and philosophy. We read books and discussed them. We went on field trips to museums and landmarks around Kansas City. I enrolled him in a homeschool program for math and art at a private school. He was happy, engaged, and actually liked learning again. Homeschooling was really good for him.
Guess who homeschooling really wasn’t good for?
Emotionally I felt isolated and stifled. I had no downtime or time to myself. Between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm I felt obligated to be in teacher mode, to either educate or provide some sort of enrichment. After school my other kids came home and they needed my help with homework and transportation to after school activities. By the time everyone was in bed for the night, I was exhausted and just wanted to be left alone.
Netflix and chill? Yes please. But like, literally.
And if the sheer emotional toll came as a shock, I was not prepared for how much homeschooling costs. Workbooks, memberships, supplies, admissions, gas money, fees- it adds up, and it adds up quickly. Our year of homeschooling easily cost $2000…and the financial expenditures did nothing to alleviate my self-imposed stress.
When asked about our new educational arrangement, I would brightly tell friends, “JP is doing great! I kind of feel like slitting my wrists, but we’re making it work.” Hyperbolic? Yes. But, in truth, I was barely treading water while my son was thriving. It wasn’t sustainable and something had to give.
Deciding to forgo homeschool and enroll JP full-time in private school for eighth grade was a moment of huge relief and tremendous guilt. Two years later, I don’t regret the decisions that lead us to where we are now. I’m glad we homeschooled–he needed it–and it led us to find a school that’s a good fit for him. He’s happy. I’m happy. And we’ve found something that works well for us both.