Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin
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How We Started Our Homeschool Journey
Have you ever stumbled on a blog and wished you could know the person in real life. I have. So, I want to try to share more about myself so you get an idea of me and my family and our homeschool and educational journey.
We have 9 children. Oftentimes people hear we have 9 children and make all kinds of assumptions. Haha! Don’t we all do that really! So let me tell you about our homeschool…and school journey.
My husband and I both had a mixture of educational experiences. He went to a private one-room school, then a public school, and then a private boarding school. My education was a mix of homeschooling, public school, and private school with some early college thrown in my Senior year.
When we started having children, I thought we would send them to public school. But my husband worked nights, and it created a scheduling issue where our oldest son wouldn’t see his dad much if we sent him to school. So we opted to try an online charter school and do school at home. Then my son could see my husband when he was home and awake.
In 2007, we learned what a lot of families would later learn during the pandemic…doing school online is HARD for some kids. And it was hard for us. So we decided to try straight homeschooling.
Our First Pivot
We didn’t really know anyone who was homeschooling when we started, but we did meet some friends that year who introduced us to a homeschool co-op. So after half a school year of homeschooling, we were happy to homeschool with other families and do classes together.
Around that same time, my sister-in-law was teaching at a classical school for homeschoolers. Basically, kids would go to a private school setting 2 days a week and then do their work at home 3 days a week. She loved it there, so we decided our son could go there 2 days a week…and continue homeschooling the rest of the time including participating in a homeschool co-op 1 day a week.
After a year of that, life got crazy. We had 2 kids homeschooling and 2 other littles.
By 2010, we decided more traditional homeschooling with a co-op was a good fit for us. BUT LIFE WENT CRAZY. Our 5th baby was born and a month later we became foster parents of a 10 month old. About 8 months later…his 8 year old sister joined us. We had 7 kids ages 9 and under!!
So by 2011…we had 3 kids homeschooled…and 1 foster daughter in public school (because homeschooling a foster child is not allowed in Ohio.)
That continued to 2013. In 2013, we were planning to adopt. So our foster daughter…soon to be adopted…was allowed to homeschool.
2014 – 5 Kids were homeschooled and also attended a homeschool co-op. In fact…I was in charge of the co-op!
At this point, my older kids were starting to become independent which was great…but my little boys were SO CRAZY…They were 4, 5 and 6! It was hard to keep up with all their busyness and do school with the older kids. I had 7 kids at this point…and we were foster parents to other children too.
In early 2015, a newborn was placed with our family that we would likely be able to adopt.
Homeschooling & Learning Disabilities
When school started in 2015, we had 8 children. It was becoming apparent that our almost 6-year-old son had some serious learning struggles. We also had a lot of conflict between our boys that were 5, 6 and 7…so we decided to send our 6 year old son to public school where he would have access to some special services through an IEP. I simply did not have the bandwidth to parent the little kids and help my one son who needed so much extra individual help.
“What learning situation is best for this child AND the whole family?”Sarah McCubbin
This was not an easy decision…but it was necessary. With so many little kids at home, we had to step back and say, “What learning situation is best for this child and the whole family?” That questions resulted in a PIVOT in our decision-making processes through the years. We realized that if we wanted to “train up a child in the way he or she should go,” then we needed to step back and look at each child’s unique giftings, talents and struggles and make a learning plan that would help THEM develop into amazing adults.
We started to ask what decision was best for EACH child and for the family as a whole.
2016 & 2017 – We had one son in public school and the rest were homeschooled and taking classes at a co-op where I was the Director.
We also had 2 older foster daughters staying with us during 2016 & 2017 who attended the local public middle and high school.
I also started working about 20 hours a week and became pregnant in 2017.
NOTE….Looking back I can see that this was a CRAZY load for anyone to carry. Directing the co-op took 20ish hours a week, I worked 20 hours a week, we had 2 difficult foster placements and 8 children of our own (7 homeschooled)… and one with big learning problems we were trying to address. Trying to do everything was burning me out!!
Lets Add a Baby to the Mix!
In early 2018, our 9th child was born. She was an amazing gift…but it had been awhile since I had a baby…and it was a big adjustment. I was still working and directing the co-op and trying to homeschool, but we had decided to stop fostering at this point.
By the fall of 2018, we really focused on the needs of our son with an IEP and decided that the school was not meeting his needs. He had reading and processing problems, but they had placed him in a behavior classroom where he was likely to pick up bad behaviors and more likely to have learning distractions. So we decided he needed to be homeschooled along with the other 6 being homeschooled.
We found an amazing brain training program through Learning RX and began the process to have him assessed and begin services 2-3 days a week.
Our oldest son, Ian, was a senior this year, and he branched out and did a LOT of different things. He went to the local career center to study auto mechanics and also started early college classes taking 9-12 credits per semester while working 20 hours a week at Mcdonald’s.
Our oldest daughter, Sadie, was a junior and also working at McDonald’s 20 hours a week while homeschooling and taking co-op classes.
Our second son, Flynn, was really demonstrating a strong interest in science so we had him enrolled in a couple science programs where he could be taught by people with strong science backgrounds.
Two of our sons had started attending a local private Waldorf school. Our son Bennett was in 5th grade and he had always been SO ACTIVE from the time he was little. It was a struggle to keep him engaged in homeschooling because he had such a high need for physical activity and structured activities. Our son Elliott was in 3rd grade and we decided to send him because we were spending so many hours on the road helping our son Abel access special services for his learning struggles.
The rest of the kids did homeschooling and took classes at a homeschool co-op where I was the Director.
2020 – The World On Fire PIVOT
What a crazy year for everyone. Schools shut down. Our co-op shut down. Everything shifted online. Suddenly we were all very much homeschooling again…even the ones in private school…even the ones in private classes…even the ones in college. We were all back home together.
It was interesting because my kids had started to spread their wings in so many directions…and now they were all back at home all day. Having that time at home let everyone spend a lot of time together and provided time to reflect on what was working and not working for each child.
With all the uncertainty of the fall of 2020, we weren’t sure what schools would look like. We weren’t sure what our homeschool co-op would look like.
Our oldest son graduated from high school in the summer of 2020 in an outdoor homeschool graduation.
He then took college classes online that fall.
Our senior in high school finished her homeschooling at home.
Our 10th grader signed up for science classes everywhere. He took Physics with one teacher. He took Biology in our co-op. And in his all-day science program, he studied Agricultural Science. He participated in our co-op’s Science Olympiad team and all the online competitions. They even made it to the State Level! He ended the year with a 26 on his ACT.
Our 8th-grade daughter took classes through co-op and a private Math class. She also did classes online.
Our very active 6th-grade son found a private school to attend.
Our 5th-grade son with learning struggles used Learning RX again to support his growing skills, participated in co-op, did Math online and took science classes at a local science center.
Our 4th-grade son did Math online, English at home, Science at the science center, and History and Drama at the co-op.
Our Kindergartener did classes at the co-op and work at home.
And the 2-year-old was along for the ride!
2021 – Are We Going Back to Normal?
After the wild ride of 2020, we knew that the Lord offered us gifts in 2021 if we chose to receive them. He was offering us the gifts of perspective, time, and opportunity. I chose to stop teaching English online at the end of 2020. I also realized at that time that I needed to step down from leading the homeschool co-op. I had been the Director for 6 years and knew that it was time to hand it off to capable hands.
Looking down the road, we knew that several of our children had a PIVOT that needed to happen, so we needed to make so adjustments.
Our 10th-grade son had basically completed his high school requirements. He only needed another English to graduate. We had maxed out the science offerings for homeschoolers in our area and he was interested in having teachers and friends that loved science as much as he did. So I suggested that he could either go to a private school with upper-level science and Engineering options…or he could do Early College full-time. He CHOSE to go to the private school in 11th grade.
Our 8th-grade daughter wanted to try school as well. She is very creative and artistic and wanted to have a variety of classes in the arts. She had also been wanting to run cross-country for years and school would provide a way for her to do that. So she also CHOSE to go to the private school for her 9th-grade year.
Our upcoming 7th grader had THRIVED in the private school environment. His need to be directly challenged by peers had caused him to dig deep and realize that he was capable of more. Surrounded by supportive teachers and a whole bunch of friends, he was changing before our eyes. He was learning to swallow his pride, work hard, ask for help and receive constructive criticism. We had always struggled in homeschooling to provide enough physical challenge for him, but in school he pushed himself to work hard.
For our son with learning struggles, we KNEW we had to figure out something. He had made so much progress, but we were struggling to be consistent enough with our efforts at home because I was running around so much getting other kids to classes and groups. He would be repeating 5th grade this year. We knew we wanted a private school because the public school had not been great before. That turned out to be a challenge. Most private schools do not have enough staff to support the needs of learning challenges. We applied to one school…went through testing…and were denied.
I have always believed that these children belong to the Lord and not to me. So I prayed for wisdom. It was stressful to not be able to figure out a workable plan for this child. And the Lord answered my prayer. In the space of a couple of weeks, 3 people mentioned a specific private school to me that I had never heard of. They specialized in helping struggling learners.
With very little time to plan, we arranged a visit. In fact, the school also accepted traditional learning students…so we planned for our younger sons to visit too in case they wanted to go.
And what a blessing…this school was the perfect fit for our son with learning struggles. It had small classes, a high ratio of teachers and intervention specialists and a plan to help students improve their learning abilities. So we opted to send our younger sons too.
It may seem odd that a homeschool family would just send their kids to school for a year. Why would we do that? Why would we just shift completely?
Here is the full story on why we quit homeschooling after 14 years.
When the whole world is wanting to homeschool, why would we stop?
The reason is MARGIN. As a family, we had operated with no margin for years. We homeschooled for 14 years…and did foster care during 8 of them. We adopted 3 children in that time and I directed a homeschool co-op for 6 years. And then I decided to start working on top of that!
In an effort to do it all, we had become overwhelmed in the process. While we were homeschooling well for some of the kids…it was difficult to provide everything every child needed while I spent so much time on the road running people around.
Our Graduated Kids
So you may be wondering what happened to our kids that have graduated as homeschoolers. Our oldest son graduated from high school in 2020. He is attending college where he received a partial scholarship and is paying the rest of his bill with cash as he goes. In 2023, he is working toward a Computer Networking Degree with minors in Computer Programming and Criminal Justice. He works about 30 hours a week for a tech company while going to school.
Our daughter graduated from high school in 2021. She works full time as a manager at McDonalds.
Homeschooling Going Forward
Our homeschool journey resumed for the 2022-2023 school year.
Now in 2024,
- 3 of our kids have graduated from high school. Two are in college and one graduates in 2024
- 3 kids go to a private Christian school
- 3 kids are homeschooled! but the other three are being homeschooled.
My 13-year-old son does tutoring 3 days a week, does a homeschool co-op, and takes science classes all day once a week. He takes care of all our animals and has made HUGE strides in independent learning. He was my child with big learning challenges which he has overcome one by one. Homeschooling allows him the space to work on the things he is naturally good at and pace himself in the areas where he needs support.
Our 8-year-old does a homeschool co-op, attends a private science class once a week, does school at home, and goes to his grandparent’s one day a week.
Our 5-year-old enjoys her co-op classes, is enjoying practicing her letters and numbers, is very curious, and enjoys learning about everything. She goes to her grandparents twice a week to hang out with them and play with her cousins there.
Having kids in school and in homeschooling presents its own unique challenges. It means that sometimes my kids can’t do everything because I can only be in one place at a time. But there are some things I no longer have to transport to every social activity because they are at school already. It means picking and choosing. It means I can’t be 100% invested in one group..but I have to be ok with that.
How I Use My Time Right Now in 2024
In 2024, I’m a mom of 9 and so thankful for all the opportunities and blessings each of my kids has at their fingertips. My husband Mike and I have been married 23 years which is quite a feat because I’m not always easy to get along with. He is a gift!
For whatever reason, I like to be busy…or I get bored. So my current year looks like:
- Homeschooling 3 kids (with the help of programs)
- Blogging part-time (I love collaborating with others!)
- Working a part-time job from home to learn a new skill (I actually got the job just to learn a skill they teach…not to just get a job LOL 🙂
- Trying to keep the house clean….I have admittedly let some of this slide.
- And doing and learning gardening and homesteading type activities…I love how tech-free this activity is…as well as practical too.
Tell Me About Your School Journey!
I’d love to hear more about your education journey. The paths we take in life can be such an adventure and it is so fun to hear about what other people are doing and learning. Do you homeschool? Public or Private school? Do you do a mix or different educational programs? Send me an email at [email protected] and introduce yourself!
Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!