Homeschooling in Waco

By SJ Dicamillo

When the right choice for your family comes unexpectedly

We moved from a small ski resort town in southwest Colorado to Waco in spring 2016. After vowing we would never move to Texas, it took all of three hours for Waco to change our minds. Our previous town had the beauty, the outdoor culture and a surprisingly decent food scene. What we lacked at the time, and what we quickly realized would be the biggest factor in deciding where to plant our roots, was a community that feels like family and that unexplainable peace that you feel when you can truly call somewhere home.

We became Texans right at the beginning of the major shift we have all seen in Waco. The one thing that has remained true through tourism, through fame, through growth, is that Waco is rich soil for opportunity and, even more so, community. We have found a city of people who are thre for each other — the biggest cheerleaders and support. It’s a place where everyone is at the very least, a friend of a friend. This is the type of community that I had always hoped to raise a family in and I am unbelievably honored to get to do so.

Fast forward seven years from our first day in Waco — now with three babies 6, 3 and 1 — and we are thriving with great assistance from the village they talk about needing when raising kids. We have now entered into the season where we get to explore an entirely different aspect of Waco: Schools. We have prayed through the pros and cons of public school, continuing private school or — what I once deemed as the words in which we do not speak — home-school. Let me add a quick note here and say that my reservations with homeschooling were based solely in my ability to tap into the patience and grace needed to be an educator on top of the laundry list of mom duties we already carry daily. So ironically, through weighing our options, we landed in the home-school camp for this calendar year. An interim option, I thought. But yet here I am purchasing next year’s curriculum already for my soon to be first grader and preschooler.

I will say it again, this was not the plan. But what I have found, for myself, is how incredibly rewarding it is to witness your child having those lightbulb moments of learning before your very eyes. There are incredible resources and curriculums available that make learning and teaching a very doable thing. The resources in our city alone are invaluable to our weekly schedule — The Mayborn Museum, Cameron Park Zoo and hiking trails, Heritage Homestead, Waco Mammoth National Monument, to name a few. Waco also has a rapidly increasing number of families who are opting for schooling at home. This has created another beautiful space of community and connection in this sweet city of ours.

Please know that choosing an alternative education does not come without its challenges. There are days that I question if we made the right decision and if we are providing the opportunities that we hope to give to our children. You will always be able to find doubt if you are looking for it. But if you are considering home-school for your own family, let me encourage you with this: it is possible, it is worth it and you do have what it takes. Each year, we will pray through the options for each kid. Home-school may not be the forever plan and the unknowns often feel overwhelming. But I find myself being brought back to that unexplainable peace, and that community that feels like family within this place that we have chosen to call home.