We had just bought our first home in the SDSU college area of San Diego two years earlier. The home had barely been updated since they built it in the 60’s, but it was about what we could “afford” in So Cal. We made pretty good money, but in true California style, we were now “house poor”. The frequent loud music playing until all hours of the morning, combined with the equally loud, drunken chatter of the less-than-ambitious college students next door were a constant reminder that we just couldn’t afford the life we wanted in California. This new house could barely fit our new family. How were we ever going to fit three more kids into this house? Wait, how were we ever going to afford to raise 4 kids with this ridiculous mortgage PLUS the cost of child care?!?
That’s when we realized we just couldn’t live in paradise anymore, at least not at this point in our lives. Many of our friends had just learned to live on less. They lowered their expectations of life. They learned to accept that they would have to raise their kids in a condo or in an area of town they’d rather not live (like next door to Animal House!). We weren’t willing to make those compromises anymore. Life is too short and our expectations were too high. We knew we’d eventually have to figure out a plan to make more money to EARN the life we wanted, regardless of where we lived. But, first things first. We needed to move to a more economical part of the country now to make that happen.
That revelation brought us to what is referred to in New York State as “the North Country”, a place where the locals were infamously referred to in a Saturday Night Live skit as “Rockeaters” (because so many of them were missing teeth!). It wasn’t the ideal place for us to live, but it was affordable and it was situated alongside beautiful Lake Champlain. Most importantly, it was where I was able to get a job. Lisa could stay at home with our daughter Kaylee, not to mention that we would still be able to afford the family of 6 we had been planning for. Mission accomplished!
Before we moved to NY, Lisa spent her days molding the minds of tomorrow while teaching at a notable private elementary school in La Jolla, CA. The school was revered for its progressive education style and charged a hefty tuition accordingly. Lisa taught the children of some of the wealthiest professionals in San Diego. Moving to NY was a big sacrifice for her because she loved teaching and loved her school. She was giving up her professional world altogether. Even if she decided she wanted to go back to teaching later, it was unlikely that she would find a similar school in the “North Country”. As it turned out, her 10 years of teaching experience was preparation for what would be her most challenging and exciting trial by fire yet… shaping the most important minds in the world (to us)…OUR kids!
When she finally mentioned to me that she wanted to homeschool, I wasn’t surprised. I trusted my wife implicitly. And I didn’t have anything against homeschooling, really. But for some reason, that idea still scared me half to death. I was really uncomfortable with the idea of homeschooling OUR kids. Homeschooling has been so negatively stigmatized for so long that I couldn’t help my reaction. I anxiously wrestled with the idea for the better part of a year. It was a very serious decision and my wife had already made up her mind.
My job was much more laid back in NY. I worked for the U.S. Border Patrol at the time and found myself patrolling the quiet border between the U.S. and Quebec, Canada. To say that it wasn’t as busy as the southwest border would be like saying my bathtub faucet isn’t quite as impressive as Niagara Falls. There was just no comparison. It was SLOW, which meant I had a lot of time on my hands at work. I really like shiny objects and I get bored very easily. I probably have ADD. So when I say I HAD to fill the down time somehow, it’s an understatement.
I quickly discovered audio books and podcasts, and a bunch of other resources on the web. I began studying to just avoid boredom. I explored politics, economics, history, and eventually business and entrepreneurship. We had become involved in Lisa’s family business coincidentally around the time we moved to NY, so that was a natural progression for me to begin exploring business and entrepreneurship. It was really convenient because all of this information was readily available and accessible with my smart phone. It began to dawn on me that I was learning more on my own than I ever learned in school. At some point, it just clicked! THIS IS HOMESCHOOLING!! I’m learning the same way that homeschooled kids today approach their entire education. This was my “A-HA” moment.
I was visiting with some friends one evening when the subject of homeschooling came up. I mentioned that Lisa and I were considering it. I was a little nervous to leak this information because I really didn’t know how people would respond. Apparently, I had cause to be nervous. The overwhelming response was extremely negative! I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes listening to every reason why home schooling was such a bad idea (as if they had any experience with it!), including the exclamation “home schooled kids are just weird!” I was ASTONISHED! They just called my kids weird!! I couldn’t help it, I was now adamantly defending the idea and quickly realized that I wasn’t opposed to it at all, I was just scared. It was something new and foreign to me. This began my transformation and eventually I embraced the idea with open arms.
I realized two very important concepts through this epiphany that I was “homeschooling myself”: 1) I was pursuing ONLY those subjects that interested me, so I was able to easily immerse myself in learning without getting bored or overloaded. 2) I had access to unlimited educational resources, namely the internet! And most of it is FREE!!
Homeschool kids have access to unlimited resources to pursue whatever interests them. They are not confined to learning only that which the school curricula deems important. They can learn ANYTHING, ANYTIME! Ever wonder why kids ask so many questions? Because they WANT to LEARN! For many parents, homeschooling allows them to encourage and foster that natural curiosity and desire to learn as it arises. Children learn from the world around them and from their experiences in it. So homeschooling does not necessarily happen during “school hours”. It is happening all the time. Parents and children take advantage of real world experiences and the lessons those experiences teach. The “real world” becomes the laboratory in which homeschool kids test theories, explore hypothesis, and learn life’s lessons. There is history, science, economics, mathematics, and language (and more) all around us. Exploring academic subjects as they occur in a child’s natural environment is priceless!
Ultimately, I realized that home schooling is a very real and exciting option for many families that offers a great deal of flexibility. It eliminates kids having to sit at a desk cooped up inside a classroom for 8 hours a day struggling to stay awake. It opens the doors to a ton of genuine and amazing learning experiences in a much more dynamic way than a traditional school ever could. The most significant obstacle for many parents is time! Many parents are not able to free themselves of the “9 to 5” in order to make homeschooling happen! That’s the journey I’m on here at HomeSchool Hustle! I am lucky in that my wife can stay at home to homeschool our kids, but I WANT TO BE INVOLVED. The only way I can be involved full time is to HUSTLE! Financial freedom here we come!