-- "Good Morning America" is looking at the new faces of homeschooling in America.
Jessica Mendoza, an ESPN analyst, "GMA" contributor and mother of two, homeschools her eight-year-old son. She shared with "GMA" her very personal decision to choose homeschooling and what she has learned since as both a mother and a teacher.
The initial reaction every time I tell someone I homeschool my kids is "How? Why?" and they look at me as if I'm crazy.
Full disclosure, I am a little crazy. I have never been satisfied with the norm; I am always looking to do things a little bit differently than everyone else.
With a job that takes me all over the country working for ESPN, I am away from home and my family quite a bit.
I am gone every weekend from the end of March through the end of October. When my oldest son started school, I realized I was losing too much time with him. When I was off work, he was at school and when he was off from school I was away at [Major League Baseball] games.
If my schedule wasn’t this intense I would never have looked to homeschool. Not that I ever disapproved, but it seemed crazy for a working mom like me who is already juggling quite a bit to add the responsibility of my child's entire education. But then the new school he was attending had an option to "hybrid" homeschool.
This meant we could homeschool him on Mondays and Tuesdays and he would go to school full time Wednesday through Friday.
I was hesitant at first. I wasn't sure how teaching my son would work. It could be awful. I could fail. I might not understand. He might not understand. But like most things I decide to do, I liked that it would challenge us.
The best decisions I have made in life have been the ones that get me outside my comfort zone; this was definitely uncomfortable and I wanted to try it.
Two years in, I can say it is still not totally comfortable. We challenge each other every week. It is so amazing to see HOW he learns. But the knowledge I have gained has surprised me the most. When do I push him, when do I pull back and take a break? The latter being the biggest challenge.
I have learned about myself and how I parent, how crazy similar my son is to me and how I myself learn.
We battle. We laugh. We high five and well, we learn. Together. And the best part is I get to decide the pace and style of his education. We might spend five minutes on math but an hour on character. We can do grammar while playing catch, or memory work walking along the beach.
Who knows how long I will continue to homeschool my son, but when I list out the pros and cons it looks like this:
The Screaming Moments:
1. When everything we do is the equivalent of pulling a chunk of hair out of his head.
2. I lose my patience and a side of me I don’t like comes out.
3. Mom free time is non-existent. The other side to getting more time with my kids is getting no time by myself.
4. Days where we spend more time arguing than eating, sleeping or learning combined.
The Smile Moments:
1. We get more time together during the week and that helps navigate a job that takes me away.
2. We create new ways to learn that are totally ridiculous, but make us laugh so hard (choreographed and completely uncoordinated song and dance to memorize our math numbers).
3. I’ve become a better parent. Homeschooling has brought out every angle of parenting and multiplied it by 10.
4. We can travel and learn. Our homeschooling is rarely done in the house. We have freedom to travel as a family more and learn outside the home.
No one homeschool family is the same and the diverse ways to teach and learn have changed so much, even in the last five years. The stereotype of homeschooling has evolved, as well, and I enjoy the funny looks I get when I tell people I "hybrid homeschool" my kids.
It usually leads to a really cool conversation centered on education and the different ways we all learn. Not just the kids, but their parents too.
Because at the end of the day, that’s all I’m really trying to do: Educate and learn. Every day.