I don't like confrontation. Period. If I'm not happy at a restaurant, I'd choose to never come back rather than say anything. As I've gotten older, I've had to become more assertive, but still avoid arguments at all costs. Unless you mess with my bear-cubs, then momma bear shows up.
This is a strange way to start a blog post about our choice to homeschool, but I want you to know that this is not a debate over what type of schooling is the best. To level the playing field, let me begin by saying that I grew up in private school (loved it), taught in both private and public schools (loved it), and our two oldest attended public charter school for 3 and 5 years each respectively.
When our oldest child was ready to start kindergarten, friends would ask if we were going to homeschool. I think they asked that because of my teaching background. At that point I did not -in the least- feel called to homeschool. I had my hands full with a toddler and a new born and I knew my limitations. We considered private school, but because of the cost, it would only be a one year option. We were fortunate enough to be in a good base (public) school district, but I felt strongly about 3:45pm afternoon release being much too long of a day for kindergartners. We applied to a public charter school, knowing that if we got in, it was the Lord's doing because there were 10 slots available and over 300 applicants. We did get in, and for the first two years it was an answer to prayer. The school had an early release (1:30pm) and a low teacher/ student ratio. Even though the school had one of the highest scores in the county, we began to see things that were disturbing. Performance over character; test scores over students' needs; undiplomatic administration, etc...
When my oldest was in 3rd grade, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Sometimes being a former teacher is a great thing. Sometimes it makes being a parent tough. As my child began to struggle at that school, I was torn between being the parent who supports the teacher and the former teacher who knew what the problem was: the teaching methods. During that year, I happened to hear a friend of mine say something in passing that caught my attention and planted the seed of possibility: the possibility that the Lord might be calling us to homeschool. I argued and wrestled with that thought for almost a full year. I didn't say anything to my husband. I just, as we like to say, wrastled! During my wrastling I began to notice families that homeschool. Much to my surprise, I discovered something that I didn't think was possible: they were... normal! I've spoken before about my stereotyping. I thought that if I began homeschooling, I would be reduced to wearing mom-jeans, no makeup, and my 4 year old might ask me to nurse him again. ;) During the course of that year, my heart was softened, and the layers of prejudice were peeled away.
In October of her 4th grade year we had a better teacher, but my child had already been earmarked by the administration. (This is when momma bear has a really hard time.) I began to pray and ask the Lord to make it very clear if we were to homeschool. One of the most clarifying moments was when I approached my husband about it. My black-and-white, quick-to-give-his-answer husband simply said, "Let me pray about it." Whoa! This was serious. After about two weeks, (of which I kept quiet and didn't push, thankuverymuch) he said, "I think we should try it." I didn't want this to be my decision, or even our decision.We wanted this to be a God thing. We made a list of pros and cons. The list of pros grew long and, to our surprise, the list of cons remained at 2. Over the course of the next few months we received confirmation after confirmation, some big, some small. Nevertheless, we witnessed God's faithfulness as he gently guided us to this decision.
Should we have homeschooled from the beginning? No. We weren't called to do that.
Just because something is "good" doesn't make it right if it's not the Lord's will.
What about socialization? Bwahahaha! My kids are extremely socialized. The difference? Let's just say that I've watched my 5th grader bloom. I began to see things in her social behavior that bothered me. There wasn't anything wrong with the girls in her class, but I began to notice a negativity that was spreading like a cancer. My 5th grader still has friends her age and she has her own personality, but I am seeing that loving, caring, nurturing, joyful little girl again.
I only get one chance at this.
Someone recently told me that I can't shelter them forever. I'm not trying to shelter them. I'm nowhere near forever. I've been called to train them up in the way they should go... to be godly, productive members of society. If I can protect their innocence as long as possible and provide a healthy, nourishing environment then why judge me?
Do I judge those who choose public school? Absolutely not. Do I think those who send their children to private school have the advantage? No. Do I regret the "time lost" while my children were in school? Nope.
No judgement. No guilt. No regrets.
If we as parents would step away from blanket statements/ opinions about schooling, we just might step out of the way enough to let the Lord speak to individuals.
So there you have it. Bless your heart for sticking with me for this long. It was a long answer to a short question. Speaking of questions, last week I had an "ask me" day. A couple of the questions were about homeschooling:
Tracey asked: You have conquered 1/2 a year of homeschooling. Is there anything that surprised you about this journey? I didn't realize how much would be available to me as a homeschool mom: good deals, support groups, teacher resources etc... My favorite curriculum resource? The Well Trained Mind.
What are your top 2 likes and dislikes about homeschooling? I love the flexibility of the day. We can get so much done and still have time for them to be kids (another soapbox for another day). I also love how easy it is to tailor to their strengths and weaknesses. I dislike lesson planning. It's more work than I anticipated. Not awful, but definitely work. I can't think of another "dislike" right now. Well, maybe that I sometimes need there to be 3 of me.
If someone were to start today, what's the number 1 piece of advice you would give them?? Whoa, girl, that's a loaded question! My number one piece of advice would be this: you can do it.
O Mom asked:
Do you plan on home schooling all the way through high school? That kind of scares me. The whole transcripts and calculus and chemistry thing. We still have 3+ years to decide. Whew!
What if one of your kids wants to go to H.S.? We will always listen to the opinion of our children. We might not act on that opinion since we, as parents, have been given the responsibility to make the big decisions for them. What we will listen to, is the Lord's calling. Do you belong to any home link programs like through your public school? At the risk of sounding dumb, what's that? So to answer your question, no. We are, however, starting a co-op on Friday. I'll let you know how that goes. ;)
To wrap up this
dissertation post, I want to say that our decision to homeschool has been the best decision that we've ever made. My fears have been put to rest: I was worried about mommy burn out. We've been at this for 6 months and I still like being a mom (whew!) I was afraid they would get sick of each other. They have a closer sibling relationship than they have ever had. I was worried about my ability to teach my own kids. Rather, I am much more aware of their needs, strengths, weaknesses and learning styles.
Is it perfect? No. Do we love it? Yes!!!