I’ve been a homeschool mom for pretty much my entire adult life.
Both Darren and I were homeschooled ourselves. Both of us appreciated the relationships we built with our family and others around us through homeschooling. We saw problems with the traditional school system that we wanted to avoid. And we wanted the freedom to pass on our beliefs to our children. We didn’t so much choose to homeschool as assumed it.
Then we had children, got to know them, and that sealed the deal.
From babyhood, Bookgirl didn’t easily connect with other people. She hated to be touched. Loud noises, like applause or a slamming door, would send her into a screaming frenzy. Unexpected changes—like words that didn’t follow the phonics rules—made her melt down.
When kindergarten arrived, Darren and I thought of a traditional classroom, with all the other kids, distractions, and unforeseen changes. Her once-a-week AWANA class was taxing enough on her; we knew she wouldn’t do well in school. I was incredibly relieved to inform the county that we were educating her at home.
(Don’t mind me as I pause here to plug HSLDA and its excellent work to make homeschooling a legal, viable option.)
The familiar, low-pressure atmosphere of our own home let Bookgirl grow into her world at a comfortable pace. Now 14, she still has expansive personal space, but happily participates in 4H, a once-a-week art class, and summer camp.
Gamerboy is seventeen months younger than his sister, and has always been very affectionate, sociable, and goofy. Once again, we knew that traditional school was a bad idea. At age five, he could already read fluently and multiply in his head, but he couldn’t sit in one place to listen to somebody talk to him. Not only would a classroom be a bad fit for him, I couldn’t see subjecting a teacher to his irrepressible energy every day. “Dear School Board,” we wrote again, “we will be educating our son at home this year.”
Gamerboy is still a wide reader and math wizard, but not much of an athlete and definitely doesn’t have mainstream interests. He can explore his gifts among his (reasonably) accommodating family, and meanwhile developed the confidence to join and participate Boy Scouts, even though much of what they do is out of his usual range of interests.
Then came Sparkler, whose idea of a good day is to visit friends, go to a cookout, have a swimming party, and finish up with a family board game. She would have all right in traditional school, although her reading level is advanced and her focus easily scattered. So I found her a once-a-week class that gave her time with other kids—as well as extra challenges and crafts that I didn’t have to superintend.
Ranger began preschool during the year that I burned out. I kept school going, but only barely. He was floating off my radar, but I didn’t have the emotional reserves to give him what he needed. So we enrolled him in a private Christian preschool three mornings a week. He thrived on the routine, learned all his letters, and did crafts. (In case it’’s not clear, I have to outsource crafts because they make me insane.) Now as he heads into first grade, I’m back on my feet again, and tackling reading and math with him.
With ten years of schooling behind me, I’m a firm believer in the way homeschooling lets a child develop at his or her own pace, providing a safe place to fail and succeed. I like the flexibility that lets us tailor each year to what each child needs. I love the way our faith, education, and family are all woven together into everyday life.
Even if the concept of homeschooling had been new, risky, and uncertain to us… we still would have chosen it. Not for ourselves, but because of who our children are.
Photo Credit: First i mage iStock, second image collage by Sara Jones.