We all have our story, I suppose. Our own road, that led us to where we are, homeschooling. I know we have ours. And I would think nobody would really care to hear it, except for the fact that, people ask! -ALL OF THE TIME! Do you know how many times I have been asked why we homeschool? If you homeschool too, I am sure you have an idea. So I thought I would tell you our story, and try to kick off some more regular posting on the topic of homeschooling here. (Again.) But I warn you….it’s really a story. Like, of the novel kind. In the way of lengthy. So, if you are interested to read about it, you may want to go all out, and make a hot beverage to go with it, or something. I’m not sure it’s all that entertaining, but it’s our story, nonetheless.
In the first few years of our homeschooling, when someone asked me that question, “Why did you decide to homeschool”, they’d get an earful! I’d just go on for dang-near-forever, about how much I love it, and why. But I have found, not everyone takes such joy, in the things I do. (Hard for me to imagine, at times.) And not everyone is really just curious, but sometimes inside they are just wanting to know if you are judging them, because they send their kids to school. (We aren’t.) Not always, but sometimes. Other times, it’s a sincere question!
In more recent years, I have responded more along the lines of, “That’s a loaded question.”. So loaded, I’d never know where to start anymore. So I just let them kind of tell me more about why they are asking, and then I can share more specifically, and save them from my babble. Because I truly love to talk about homeschooling, and they could be sorry they asked, quickly. Well, maybe not quickly. Maybe like, an hour later, when I’m, still talking. : ) The truth is, I had and still have, very simple core reasons for deciding to homeschool our kids. But the reasons why I have been so glad we do homeschool, increases by a reason or 2, just about every day, when I take in the news! Really, I get daily confirmation, that homeschooling our kids is the best choice, for our family. And then there is my father, who says every single time we talk, “Boy, Honey, I’ve been listening to the news, and the studies, and Glenn Beck (lol), and man…..you guys are really doing the right thing, homeschooling those kids! Really! More and more people are realizing, that is the way to go. And I’ll tell you what else….”. And I leave it like that for you, because he’s never done! I love my Dad. His support, and my mother’s excitement and blessing over our homeschooling decision before she passed away, has been nice to have. I’d have done it anyway, but it’s still nice to have.
To be clear, it is was and remains to be, my husband and I’s decision to homeschool our kids. But I am really the primary teacher. Not to say he doesn’t help someone with something they are stuck now on, now and then, if he happens to be home. He believes in homeschooling, and supports me in every way. But I am the one that researches and chooses curriculum, teaches the academics to the kids daily, keeps the records, and accesses and oversees all of their academic work. He’s not even interested in trying to do that. That being said, we believe homeschooling is a lifestyle, and believe we live it 24/7. Because schooling kids to us, is about a whole lot more than teaching academics. That’s definitely a key part of it, but in our eyes, a small part of it, in the big picture.
Later in this post, I will give you the main reasons of why we began to home school. But telling you how we came to begin homeschooling our kids, might be great place to start:
I think the seed was planted in my heart real early on, to be a homeschooling Mama. Like, when I was a kid myself. I never really liked the reality of school, at all. But I did love playing school, with my siblings and friends. I have many memories of pretending. One of us would be the teacher, and the rest of us would be the students. I vividly remember some summer days, of sitting on a couple of front porch steps made of boards, with our bare legs and feet dangling underneath the porch, and using the one step higher as our desk. (You can bet your backside I would not do that today! Oh my goodness….can you imagine the spiders and other creepy-crawlies that must be under there? No thanks!). So that was a favorite activity of ours to play.
I’m pretty sure I also got some inspiration from Miss Beadle, from Little House on the Prairie! My siblings and I loved that show, but I am sure no one did more than I did. Laura and Mary were the picture of my sister and I. I was so much like Laura, and ironically, my name was Laura too. Aside from any scenes with Pa , I most loved any scenes in the school house. (I’ve encouraged my husband a time or 2, to build me a schoolhouse. I have such a fixation with them! And old board floors, and school bells, and slates, and old school desks…). Granted, Miss Beadle’s class was not homeschooling, and I was just a kid myself still, taking it all in. But I fell in love with the simplicity of the one-room schoolhouse, the old desks and chalkboard slates, the burning stove for heat, and the notion that kids of different ages, even siblings, could not only learn together in the same place, but could benefit in many ways, from that. It differed a lot, from my own experience of going to school. I also loved how the style of raising children in those days on the Prairie, seemed to build strong character in them, as was seen in the roles as they grew up over the years. Of course, it was just a show. But as I got older, I learned that it was a true representation of that era, and to this day, I am drawn to that way of life.
So those impressions probably took real root in my heart, even as young as I was. But I don’t think I really looked that far ahead in life, to make that kind of decision or plan for my own children, someday. I think the first real, formed thought I had on the matter, was in the moments that I first held my newborn baby girl, Alexis Grace, in my arms. I had had an all natural, drug-free birth with a midwife, and I was so exhausted after laboring all through the night. But I vividly remember being in my hospital bed sometime later that day, holding my new baby girl in my arms, all wrapped in a blanket, and looking into her sweet little face with her little pink cotton hat, and thinking: “I cannot even imagine ever sending you off to school every day.” I knew, she would grow up in the blink of an eye, and I did not want to miss any of it. I think that was the day I figured I never would send her to school.
But I did. In her toddler years, I was in a moms group, where the kids were cared for in a room down the hall, by a group of older folks from our church. I wasn’t into the mom’s group that much, but I thought with Alexis being an only child, being with all of these other kids might be good for her. For a year after that, she went to a pre-school program just twice, for only 2 hours, at the high school, where students were getting early courses in early childhood education. Again, I wasn’t feeling great about it, was doing it for the same reasons. I’d be the first one there to pick her up every time.
So then came her kindergarten age, and there was no doubt by then that I simply wanted to homeschool her. There was no part of me that wanted to send her to school for a 1/2 day, 5 days a week. But in the same time frame, I found myself pregnant. (Hooray!!) I thought of the 1-on-1 time I had had with Alexis, in her first year, and I didn’t want to not be able to give that same valuable bonding time, to our new baby. I wasn’t sure I could school Alexis effectively, and care for a newborn with the same attention. So, being on the fence with my decision, I did take her to be tested and registered her for kindergarten. Just in case, we decided to send her.
Well, the baby on the way, turned out to be three babies on the way! That ‘kindergarten year’, turned out to be non-stop caring for, feeding, bathing, changing, rocking, soothing newborns! That is, once we got them all home! They were born several weeks early, after my own 6 months of strict and complete bedrest, while I was pregnant with them. (Early complications that threatened them.) But what I found in these bedridden weeks, and spending such time with Alexis on my bed, was that home schooling was for us, as much as I ever thought it was! It was also the time that I spent a lot of time praying, and bargaining with God, or so I thought. And it was my promise to Him, in that time, that later cemented my commitment to home school our kids some years later. (That will have to be another post.). But during that time, Alexis really learned to read, and write, and teaching her such things as critical thinking, was something I found I really loved to do. Watching her get it, and be excited, and grow in her knowledge, was just downright fun to me. Of course, I would soon have my hands more than full, and be way short on sleep. So off to kindergarten she went, exactly five days after her triplet siblings were born. I was seriously hurting, physically, but I was determined to be the one, that brought her to school, for her first day.
Funny share here from that morning, that I’ll never forget: All of the new kindergarten kids were lining up at the door (all of them so cute!!), and there were other parents all around of course, filled with as much anticipation and nerves as me. So a mom nearby began chatting with me, and then glancing down at me, mentioned how it looked like it must be any day now, and asked when the baby was due! I laughed out loud, knowing how embarrassed she was going to feel when I said, “Actually, I already gave birth 5 days ag0.” She did turn beat red, and was so apologetic. But I told her not to feel bad, that it was triplets, and I had to agree, I still looked very much pregnant.
The nicu weeks were hard. They were only there because they were early, and needed to learn to feed, and grow. We were so blessed our babies made it into the world, only by the grace of God! I know this. But it was such an emotional roller coaster, day to day. Plus I was always trying to pump and nurse the babies, was not getting rest, and there were all of the typical scares that come with premies. It was hard not to wonder if we’d ever have a normal family life again. I wasn’t too bothered by Alexis going to school that year. For one, her school was literally within walking distance. But also because my own kindergarten year, were rather magical memories. At that time in our lives, it gave Alexis a change of pace that was good for her, and Lord knows I would not have had much time to really teach her well. But over the following weeks, the babies grew and progressed and came home one by one, all in God’s time, and we were all finally home as a family, a week before Christmas. THAT, was the best Christmas, ever!! Honestly, after all we had been through, I think that was when we learned to truly trust in God, and had learned to appreciate the little things. Journeys like that forever change people. It did us.
So, in reading this, you’d think the following year, I began home schooling Alexis. Right? But no…..it took me a couple of years, to get my groove, caring for 3 babies. NOW, I have enough home schooling experience and knowledge, that I know I could have done it-and loved it!! But having not been through it all as of yet at that time, I did not know it. With the reality of official homeschooling being new territory for me, I wanted to do it right. Whatever right is, right? So, Alexis continued to go to school, through 1st and 2nd Grade! All along my knowing she would be home schooled as soon as I could. There were a few instances in her formal school years, also other posts I could write, where I knew formal schooling would not be for us. So at the end of 2nd Grade, I pulled her out of school, and she has been out ever since. (It’s hard to believe, but she is a high schooler now!)
Of course, I have had the other 3 to school as well. They have never been to school, and that was the plan from the beginning of their lives. (Even if I did find myself pregnant again!). Honestly, I believe children begin being schooled by their parents, at birth! So it’s really a natural progression, to just keep going. But the ‘first day of school’ that she technically began schooling at home for 3rd Grade, in 2005, and the triplets were only 3 years old. It was an easy and relaxed first year. Alexis did her written work and math easily, and we did a lot of out door excursions all together, learning about nature, and finding our homeschooling groove. Which came quite naturally.
2005- Alexis with her bull frog, “Goliath”.
I began kind of formally schooling the trio the following year in 2006, although they had only just turned 4 and were too young for kindergarten, only because they kept asking to “have school work like Alexis does.”. So, I began table work with them that year. Meanwhile, they were picking a lot up and learning right along with Alexis….
The following year in 2007, I was officially homeschooling all 4 of the kids:
2007 – School Photo. Alexis: 5th Grade / JackMichael, Olivia & Shane: Kindergarten
But, Kindergarten was kind of a joke to them, because it was everything they learned the year before. I heard a lot of, “I already know how to do this, but it’s still fun!”. It was just a warm up year anyway, to start working at the table in a disciplined way, working, for an extended period of time. By First Grade, researching various curriculum for them, I knew they needed an advanced curriculum, than what I was finding. But I want to say this right now: I certainly do not think it is because I think they are geniuses of any sort. I’m also not saying I must be such an awesome teacher, either. I truly believe they worked at a higher level because they loved schooling, and I could give them the one-on-one attention. And I only believe they love school, because I made sure early on, that their learning was generally fun! (Ok, I will take the credit for that! I still can be a lot of fun!; ) ). Making learning pretty fun and exciting, in those early years, I have come to believe is crucial, and really sets the pace for their attitude, about learning. That theory of mine, could also be a whole other post, sometime. But let’s keep this post on track. Suffice it to say, after many years of homeschooling now, all 4 of our kids still have a great attitude about school time, and love learning so much, that it is often self-propelled. Now that they are older, it is not always fun, per say. Maybe enjoyable, is the more suitable word, for most days. With some days of fun, and less than enjoyable days, randomly thrown in there as well. Because I feel they they need to know how to work hard as well, and to understand, that often times in life, there are tasks to be done, responsibilities to tend to, or lessons to be learned, that fun or less than enjoyable or not, still need to be accomplished. That’s life. But to start out with a good experience with learning while they are young, and create that curiosity and thirst for knowledge in them, followed by more disciplined work ethic and a good outlook, really seems to have set a nice pace for our kids. We think, hope, and pray, that it has become a part of them, for all they set out to do, or find themselves faced with, all throughout their lives.
So, I’m sure your drink is long gone. But that is our story, of how we came to be a homeschooling family.
My own reasons of why we homeschool, are simple:
- I love to be with my kids a good most of the time, and I don’t want to miss a minute of their childhood. They will be grown up and fly the coop too soon, as it is.
- I enjoy teaching my kids, helping them get something they are struggling with, seeing them ‘get it’, and watching them grow in every kind of way. And while I don’t think academics is the most important thing in life, I actually do think I can teach my kids better than the traditional schools can right now. Or, that they will learn better and more, through homeschooling. Either way you’d like to look at it.
- It gives us a whole lot more of family time, which we hold in high value, and life is according to our own schedule.
- I’d like to raise my own kids 100%, without the village helping with their various ideas, that are quite different, if not polar opposite, from my own.
- Every bit of our kids education, can be presented in Light of our faith in God, and no one can tell me it’s not acceptable. We DO feel and believe, it is what God wants our family to do.
- Well, you watch the news, right?
- And lastly, but actually the top of the list, it had to be done, to keep my end of the bargain I made with God. What bargain, you ask? Well, that’s another story I could tell. And I will, if you’d like. But I can say now, is that for all of those months I spent in bed, I spent them begging Him, and praying, to let us keep all 3 of these babies, here on earth with us and their big sister. And if He did, I’d make Him a promise. He kept His end of the bargain, and I will spend the rest of my life, keeping mine. QUITE HAPPILY.
If you homeschool your children as well, tell us what your main reasons for doing so are! If you are not homeschooling yet, but are considering it, what is making you feel the urge to do so? We’d love to hear what reasons motivate you to school your children, or if you have told your whole story, share the link with us! We’d love to read about it, and connect with you all! (Got a homeschooling topic or question you’d like to hear from us about? Let us know that too!)