After living in a variety of locations together, my husband and I began our family in Illinois where we had developed income opportunities and had other supportive resources. While pregnant, I discovered what became an anchor benefit of living in the Chicago area for us. I found an active homebirth family physician practice that provided health care to families in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. We used that practice as support for each of the births of our children and as our primary care throughout our children’s young lives. That practice employed doctors and nurses all knowledgeable about and committed to normal (natural) birthing and early childhood parenting. We were the recipients of well-informed care on natural birth, breastfeeding, and choices in medical interventions such as circumcision, vax’s, etc. Everyone we encountered there was respectful of the choices made by each family. They were respectful of medical and religious faith-based decisions and were available to assist by providing info and education to parents. It was truly care with informed consent. The positive informed support we had there influenced many of our parenting choices going forward from that time. Those blessed beginnings led to our choice to home educate our three children.
When our oldest was nearing school age even the thought of him being separated from myself, and by then his younger brother, for hours every day for him to be in an institutional and what had begun to seem like a very unnatural setting to learn just didn’t sit right with us anymore. We weren’t sure what learning at home would look like at that point but the things a five-year-old needed to learn didn’t seem too difficult to provide or as anything we couldn’t teach ourselves.
We began to see the experiences we were providing in our own family setting to have value way beyond what would be available in a classroom of many children with only one or two adults. Thus began our homeschool journey as a way to keep what we were creating as a family and to build on that beginning.
In the early days it was not actually to avoid what I now view as harmful situations for young ones. The pitfalls & destruction & indoctrination to family and community have become more apparent over the years. We are now clearly aware of the downside of institutional learning but initially our why was simply to keep and strengthen all that we had already created those first few short years as a family.
A common concern often expressed by non-homeschool families is about educational gaps. In response I contend that any gaps my children have had in their educations due to being home instead of being one in a herd has been more than compensated for in the opportunities for direct relationship enhancing, hands on learning, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Just to name a few. The deep ongoing bonds and relationships we enjoy with each other in our family are priceless beyond any detriment of knowledge missed. Catching up in knowledge is easy compared to the difficulty of catching up from experiencing undue stress or damaged relationships.
The Pros of Homeschooling
By choosing to homeschool we did in fact avoid (even beginning two decades ago) many unpleasant, intrusive, and harmful experiences, but more importantly we gained and maintained our own faith filled and freedom loving family culture. We didn’t homeschool to escape, we homeschooled to create. We have been more successful in some areas of that endeavor than others, but we have many strengths as a family and individually for having taken on the responsibility for ourselves than if we had handed it over to a government institution. We are better for that no matter the gaps that may have occurred in academic subject matter.
Illinois is still a good state to homeschool in. No registration required with few regulations. There are many thriving and active homeschooling groups and associations in Illinois. They include groups focused on a variety of activities and from a variety of viewpoints and beliefs. If you want to connect or collaborate with other homeschooling families, there are many opportunities to do so.
While there is in fact more to avoid now than ever in the government school system – I still wouldn’t keep kids home just to avoid the pitfalls – if choosing now, I’d choose to keep them home to learn, to grow, to create and build a family and community culture together that allows for more opportunity than what’s available in an institution. In every season that creating continues to be a unique journey in each family with millions of moments of learning to savor!