Friday, January 14, 2011

Our homeschooling journey

I used to think homeschoolers were completely insane. Why would anyone want to do that?? Oh no, I knew the plans I had for my life. I wanted to have 2 kids. I wanted to work full-time. There was no way I would stay at home. I wanted to change the world. And homeschooled kids are weird aren't they?

That all started to change about the time I was birthing my first born. I was literally in the hospital, contracting, about to push when it hit me. If I was going to only have 2 kids, then I only got to do this one more time, and I knew that wasn't enough. I said then that I wanted 4 kids. 2 of each.

During those first few years with Nathan, I questioned again and again why his teachers would get to spend so much more time with him than I would. That never made sense to me. You see, I enjoy my children. I do. I am one of those crazy people who really just loves to spend time with them. Yes, they can get on my nerves. And I adore my alone time. But the awareness that life is short and they will be grown and moved out so soon came to me early. I know that all too well now. I hunger for time with them. I love knowing them--every bit of them. So early on, I questioned the send-them-off-all-day approach, but that never changed my plans. Homeschooling never entered my equation. Remember, homeschoolers are insane and I have things to do.

Now, add Anna Faith and then very quickly Samuel. At this point, Nathan was in private school and doing very well. Too well maybe. He was working several grade levels ahead. But private school is expensive, and when you are planning 4 kids...we knew we couldn't keep it up. But we also knew that he would just be in trouble all. day. long. if he went to public school. By this time, I had dropped out of grad school--finished my master's and the coursework for my phd, but I just couldn't stomach leaving my newborn daughter in daycare all day long. The plan was now to stay home with them when they are little, then get back on track when they started school. I had started teaching part-time at local colleges and loved it. I was using my brain, interacting with adults, but still home with the littles during the day. And God just kept beating me over the head with the school issue. It got to the point that not even speaking to some people about this little homeschooling thought in the back of my head, I was hearing that we should (even people who had no connection to homeschooling).

I decided to do 2 weeks of homeschool over the summer to prove to myself and to God that I, in fact, could not do this and He was mistaken. Much to my surprise (and dismay!), we loved it. We all loved it. We couldn't wait to do more. And I finally said, ok, fine God. Let's see how this goes.

At this point, I knew no one who homeschooled and knew of no activities. I dove in. That is how I approach most things. When I finally make a decision, I dive in head first. Getting to that decision might take some pretty stout kicks in the rear, but I am all in when I go for something. I had already been reading books and books on the subject. By this time I had found the Well-Trained Mind, which gave me so much confidence and completely changed the way I was looking at school. Go read it! I started researching non-stop and found co-ops, classes, labs, PE...you name it, it is there. I found a huge homeschooling community in my area.

I have many many reasons I am eternally thankful we homeschool:
-I love knowing my children and getting to see those aha moments instead of those going to their teachers
-I love that my kids know each other. They are truly each other's best friends. I pray that bond lasts through their lifetime.
-We have so much fun
-Behavior is so much improved
-they learn so much and get to explore so much being in a class with a ratio of 5 to 1 (7 to 1)
-life is so much less stressful
-Nathan and I have found our groove and we understand each other now (I hear all the time that "I couldn't homeschool because we just don't get along like that"--I am hear to say that if you spend this kind of time with a child, you will learn how to get along. Homeschooling has improved my relationship with Nathan in ways I couldn't imagine and can't describe without being sappy)
-we can create a lifestyle of learning in our home
-We have made great friends who homeschool
-my kids are well-socialized instead of only being peer-socialized. they can hold interesting conversations with people of all ages in a variety of contexts
-my kids can participate in so much more because of the flexibility of our homeschool and they have so much more free time to read, play, or explore

I could go on and on, but the number one biggest reason I am so thankful we homeschool is Abigial. She was born into a homeschool family and spent all of her 2 years in the middle of us all. She learned, she thrived, and she KNEW her siblings. Nathan didn't miss out on his baby sister because he was away all day. With a 10 year age gap, he probably would not have known her, but I know he wouldn't have carried her around on his hip all day and known all her faces. He had the opportunity to know what made her laugh and what made her scream. He knew her and he adored her. I can't imagine robbing him of that. Now that she is gone, he has memories to cling to because we spent so much time together. He didn't miss out on time with friends or activities. In fact, he gets so much more of both than when he was in school. But now, he also gets time with his family and his siblings. That time is priceless. He will be an excellent father some day.

And in the end, I realize that I am changing the world. It might be a smaller world than I had imagined so long again, but it is the corner of the world that really matters to me. I do teach. I do get to spark some little love of history with a variety of students. What a blessing! But most importantly, I get to be an active part of my children's lives. That is my mission right now. The time they are home with me is so short in the grand scheme of my life. I don't want to miss a minute!

If you homeschool or are considering, I have a fantastic giveaway coming up courtesy of my friend Kathy and the writers of Well-Trained Mind. Look for it in the next few days!

4 comments:

  1. You said it so well. I love being with my kids and I don't want to miss anything. If we are blessed to have them for their entire childhood (and I know that's not guaranteed), that isn't long. Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging me. Somedays it does feel like I'm not doing much to change the world but God has placed THIS world in my home, so I'm focusing on it.

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  2. Thank you for being that last kick in my rear that made me finally accept that we should homeschool. It took many kicks, but yours is what did it for me. Now I've jumped in with both
    feet! I'm enjoying it much more now than those first few weeks, so I can only imagine that out will get better and better!

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  3. I love this post. You and I really are so much alike. You inspire so many people. You are changing the world in a bigger way than you can imagine.

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