Making decisions regarding your children’s education is never easy, unless you are one of the lucky families whose path was predetermined long before your children were ready to start school. If that is you, I applaud your planning and foresight. For us and our soon-to-be preschooler, it was not as simple. It seems like more often these days I hear of parents choosing to homeschool their kids so I thought I should begin by sharing our situation and how we arrived at the conclusion that homeschooling is the best option for our family.
First in this process was considering the location in which we live. Our home is in a rural community, just outside a majorish city in the Pacific Northwest. We are relatively new here, having moved from the east coast four years ago and then spending a short stint in the city afterwards getting our bearings. We love the lifestyle out here where we have settled. It’s a laid back, quiet, and peaceful setting that allows you to commune with nature but also hit up the trendy new restaurant a half hour away if the mood strikes. Since we like it out here so much, we would prefer our daughter (and one-year-old son when it’s time) to attend school out here as opposed to in the nearby city. We also want to make sure that program will stand the test of time and continue to be a viable option when our son is ready.
Second, we considered our financial situation. My husband is very fortunate to have a career that provides a stable income for our family with some scratch left over at the end of the month, while I have been home full-time, having and nurturing babies. Having said that, my going back to work and putting our one-year-old in daycare while our daughter attends a full-time program (or part-time with before/after care support) would mean we would net a much higher income at the end of the month. If I worked part-time, it’s a crapshoot. The gains may be marginal.
Finally, we reviewed the preschool options available to us beginning in the fall of 2018. There are a few different kinds of preschool education programs in our area so I’ll break it down:
Head Start – Income-based, typically for low-income families and we don’t meet eligibility requirements
Faith-Based Curriculums – We do not have a religious affiliation and prefer to opt out
Private In-Home – Also faith-based in our particular community so not as desirable to us
Montessori – One in town, preschool and kindergarten only, half-time only for pre-k, no full-time care available
For our family, the best option appeared to be the Montessori pre-k in town. Although, it seemed working full-time was not a suitable option without some additional care or assistance. Also, I was left wondering what kind of financial benefit there would be if I’m working part-time and paying for daycare and Montessori preschool. The Montessori curriculum in general fits with our personal parenting philosophies and it seems like the kind of education that can really foster the independence, confidence, creativity, and happiness we want our children to have well into adulthood. My husband and I have very strong science and environmental backgrounds. We also really want to instill in our children a feeling of appreciation for and stewardship over nature. Then I started thinking…
What if we cut out the middle man and took control over our daughter’s education? What if we chose to have a parent/teacher/mentor relationship with our children? As adults, we are so thankful for the education we have received and to those who have provided it. Education has afforded us a lot of opportunities we would have otherwise been denied. It also provides a deeper level of understanding about the environment in which you live; something that has really fostered my own love of nature. I read something once that said “To teach is to touch a life forever”, and I completely agree. What a wonderful gift we could give to our daughter and son, to pass on a lifelong love of learning through our own Montessori homeschool.
So here we are. Taking courses. Buying materials. Planning in accordance with the curriculum. Most importantly, getting excited.