Why do families choose to homeschool? The circumstances and reasons are varied. In the “Our Path to Here” series, we tell you our stories.
I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to homeschool my own kids some day. I was homeschooled myself, K-12, and I loved it. I loved how close I was to my brother and my parents, how safe and nurtured I felt at home. I loved the flexibility homeschooling offered – I’m a morning person and my brother’s a night owl, and if I wanted to start my schoolwork at 7am and be done by early afternoon, I could do that. If he wanted to start after lunch and finish by supper time, he could do that.
My parents were pretty early to the homeschooling game – my mom started teaching me for preschool in 1984. Until I was nine, we really didn’t have any other homeschool families we could interact with, and I’m sure that was a difficult and lonely time for my mom in particular. The internet didn’t exist, there were very few resources to draw from for curriculum and so on, and her only support network was my dad. He was the one who really insisted they needed to homeschool us, and he never wavered in his commitment to the idea. Since my mom was a licensed teacher, they were able to teach us at home even though we lived in Michigan at the time, a state with very strict homeschool laws in the 1980s. I know they received a lot of criticism for doing this weird new thing, both from family and friends, and from random people we encountered while out and about during school hours.
My husband’s family moved to Ukraine as missionaries in the early ‘90s after the Iron Curtain fell, and they hired a private tutor for their children at first. By the time my husband reached high school, they felt he was able to learn independently, so they homeschooled him for the four years of high school. He thrived. Like me, he loved that he could fit his schooling to his learning style and nature. He could get as much sleep as he needed AND wanted, and start learning when he was rested and fully awake. And he could pursue one course of study until it was finished and then move on to the next instead of bopping between things every day. If he wanted to, he could study all of his science until he’d finished it after a few weeks, then move on and study all of his history for the year.
We met in college, where we quickly realized that homeschooling was something we were both committed to because we both felt so strongly how much we had benefitted from it. We didn’t actually write homeschooling into our wedding vows, but we both knew we wanted that opportunity for any children God might bless us with.
Flip forward a few hundred pages in our life’s book to now, where our three kids are second-, fourth-, and sixth-graders. Officially, we began homeschooling in 2012, when our oldest was Kindergarten-age. But he was already reading by then, so you know I’d been teaching him for a while before that. And he’d been learning from us since he popped into this world and learned that yes, these two people are the ones God’s provided to care for his needs. The same goes for our two daughters. I try not to be one of those people who goes around telling people how much better homeschooling is than today’s public schools… but for our family, it’s the best option, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to provide this education lifestyle for my kids.
Rachel Kovaciny was homeschooled K-12, graduated from Bethany Lutheran College with a BA in Liberal Arts, and promptly married her college sweetheart. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. Rachel writes a monthly history column for the newspaper Prairie Times and bi-monthly articles for the online magazine Femnista. She also blogs about books at The Edge of the Precipice and about movies, writing, and life at Hamlette’s Soliloquy. Her 2017 book, Cloaked, was a finalist for the Peacemaker Award for Best YA/Children’s Western Fiction, and her follow-up, Dancing and Doughnuts, is now available in paperback and e-book. To learn more about Rachel and her writing, visit www.rachelkovaciny.com