How We Came to Homeschool Part 1: Let me begin at the beginning

This is the first post in a series about how we came to our decision to homeschool. While I'm the first to admit surprise—even shock, some days—it is an exciting step in the "it just feels right" direction for our family. When we get started in the Fall I imagine I will write about the details of what homeschooling life looks like for us but in the meantime, I want to write on how in the world we came to choose homeschool in the first place! For those of you who have followed our story for a while, this first post may repeat some background info from my more recent posts about Making Home, with the added details of how Roscoe's kindergarten year influenced our decisions about where to live.

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When we moved back to Richmond in 2012 we found a cheerful cape rental with a cramped floor plan and a big backyard. The neighborhood was appealing, but we really chose the little yellow house because it was around the corner from the “best” school in the city. Even though the boys were so young, we knew that our plans for buying land and building a home were still a few years down the road, and it seemed a reasonably good chance that Roscoe would be a kindergartner before we moved again.

Two years into city life—making the most of our house and otherwise living very merrily—we were a few months into a contract for rural land just outside city limits where we hoped to build our new home. We had planned to stay at least another year in the city, just long enough to close on the property and complete construction.

When our landlord unexpectedly announced plans to put the yellow house on the market at the end of our lease in November, we briefly reviewed available houses in our favorite areas of the city but realized that in the rental market you may as well wait to look until you’re ready to sign. We held off until a month before we needed to move, and after touring a few homes nearer to the boys’ preschool we opted for an even smaller (but enormously better laid out) ranch with notably less charm than any home we had ever lived. The fact that it was also the cheapest home we had ever occupied was a bonus and meant that we could effortlessly shuttle away into savings another few hundred dollars each month for contracting our architect. Another appealing feature was that five minutes in the direction opposite from preschool was the Waldorf kindergarten that we had chosen for its unique play-based curriculum. (Why play based kindergarten? Click here.)

We signed an 18-month lease with a month-to-month option that offered a cushion in case our timelines ran behind target. We assumed that because our yet-to-be built home would be completed mid-school year, we couldn’t know what first grade would look like for Roscoe—there were so many variables at play. We stayed focused on our plan for kindergarten and knew that we could figure the rest out later. In a worst case scenario we thought we could continue to drive the kids into the suburbs for private education, but we remained hopeful that perhaps there were amazing alternatives to be discovered in the new county’s public or private school systems. 

We moved unceremoniously over the course of a few weeks in October. We packed up everything that we had stuffed into the little yellow house and hauled it across the river. We carefully stacked one-third of our furniture into the garage, laid out another quarter of our belongings on the floor of the attic, and neatly displayed what remained throughout 1200 square feet.

Shortly after we settled in, and during the study period of our land inquiry, we learned that the county had plans to build through a portion of the property in order to widen the main road fronting the lot. After careful consideration we decided to let the parcel go, which meant that we were 18 months committed to a sufficient but distinctly transitional home that we had strategically chosen for reasons related to a project that was no longer and, of course, to our intentions for the children’s education.

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