Homeschooling presents challenge

By Anita Doberman: CNJ columnist

These days my routine, if I can even call it that, has drastically changed. Aside from the adjustment of adding baby number six to our midst, I am home-schooling the kids.

Did I just say that? I have to re-read the last sentence to make sure it’s actually me home-schooling the kids and not a fictional character. Oh, but wait, as I look around and notice that my house is in a permanent state of disarray I know without the shadow of a doubt that yes, I am indeed home-schooling my offspring.

If you asked me a year ago whether I would ever home-school, I would have said never. But military living has a way of testing our ideas because everything is so unpredictable and sometimes we just have to adjust. And so this year home-schooling was the best option for our family.

I guess my reluctance to take on teaching my children wasn’t only an issue of time and patience, or whether I had either of these attributes, but also the fact that in Italy where I grew up home-schooling doesn’t exist. So when I met families here who home-schooled, I was interested and respectful but always thought, hey it’s definitely not for me. I couldn’t be a parent and teacher 24/7. That lasted until the beginning of this year when we decided that I was going to give it a try because of military moves, deployments, illnesses, new baby, competitive gymnastics and a bus schedule that had my 5-year-old daughter out the door by 6 a.m.

Teaching my kids at home has been challenging and rewarding. Some days it’s a joy as I watch them learn or discover something new, or get excited about a small science experiment. Other days it seems that I am constantly on their cases to do work, or even to just clean up.

Personally, it’s been an exercise in being patient and really watching my words. I certainly can’t blame poor language or manners on school influence. Whether I’ll continue to home-school after this year is up in the air. I am not opposed to public school, and sleep is a rare privilege these days when I write. But we all sacrifice something for what we believe is right for our kids, and right now home-schooling was the right way to provide some stability.

Despite the fact that a part of me would really like to have more time for myself, I choose not to give up my time with my family, and so home-schooling and trying to write in my spare time is the compromise I live with. And, I hold my unfulfilled desires in me and embrace that I can’t have it all.

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: