Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I Homeschool

I have had several people ask me lately to tell them the story of how I came to the decision to homeschool, and I offered up the information to one other, so rather than type out the story several times for e-mails I thought I'd post it here!


I had not always planned to homeschool. I knew I could do it if I should need to; after all, I taught other people's children in a Christian school! But I didn't really have a desire to homeschool. You see, I had bought into the lies I heard all around me. I loved my children, but I heard myself saying things like, "I cannot wait to have a few hours to myself when these kids go to school each day!" I have had some great examples of homeschool families. All 5 of my dad's siblings homeschool(ed) their children, and I go to a church where about a third of the families homeschool their children. Of course I have seen the stereotypical "weird" kid produced by homeschooling, but I have seen many, many more well-adjusted normal children come out of homeschooling - so that wasn't an argument for me. Pretty much, my reasons for not even considering homeschool were based on feminist thought that has crept into my Christian circles.

I live in a large city where the public schools aren't the best. Of all the school districts around, I happen to live in the best one, but I still would not consider sending my children to it for many reasons. But public school wasn't my only option! Because we live in a big city, I have my pick of private schools, both Christian and not. That was my plan. I went to a Christian school from K-5 through my first two years of college, and I had a great experience.


When my oldest child turned 3, like every "good parent" I checked out the local pre-school options. I found a great church run program that was close to our house and enrolled him. My only complaint with the school was that they only had a three morning a week option and I was really looking for two mornings a week. The first crack in my "no homeschool" shell started to crack during this process of choosing a school. I found many schools that offered or required five day, all day programs even for three year olds! I may have been looking forward to my "me" time, but sending my three year old baby off to school all day, every day seemed wrong somehow! Anyway, he started the program and did well. I enjoyed having time with just my younger son alone, but I was surprised at how "off" we felt without Aaron here! I really missed him, even though he was only gone three hours a day for three days!


It was right during this time that my good friend and blog mate here at The Jos Know began telling me about a book she read, The Way Home by Mary Pride. She told me about decisions she was making based on conviction she felt after reading the book. The things she told me about were pretty major, so I decided I needed to read the book to better understand my friend and where she was coming from. Little did I know that God was going to use this very book to show me His plans for me to homeschool! When the book arrived, I dug in. Being a voracious reader, I began to devour the book! I was immediately confronted with my attitudes that were very much influenced by feminism. I had no idea how many of them had crept into my own thoughts! I learned what the Bible had to say about my children truly being a blessing and not just another responsibility I had. I wasn't sure about some of the concepts I was reading, but I could not deny the point she had on God's view of children. Then I got to the sections about homeschooling. I found myself seeing some really good points. My first reaction was fear! I didn't want to homeschool, and I knew my husband didn't want me to homeschool! He was still talking about me going back to work when our kids were in school (which I knew I didn't want to do). As I came across things that I hadn't thought about before, or something I found particularly interesting, I read it to him, though. I finished the book on a Saturday evening, and told my husband that reading it almost makes me consider homeschool a little bit!


The next morning at church, a lovely lady that I used to babysit for and who also homeschooled her children through 8th grade came up to me. She told me that for weeks she had been feeling like she was supposed to talk to me about homeschool, and asked me if I was planning on homeschooling my boys. We talked for a minute and she said she would call me later that week to chat about homeschool. When she walked away, my husband and I looked at each other and both thought it was a bit weird that this conversation came the morning after I finished that book!


Then on Monday, I got a phone call from a friend that I hadn't talked to in months. The topic quickly turned to homeschool, as she homeschooled her boys! We ended up talking curriculum and other homeschool topics for almost an hour that day.


Tuesday, my curiosity got the best of me, and I looked up my friend's curriculum on the Internet. Wow! I was so impressed by what I saw, and I was used to reviewing curriculum from my time as a teacher. Then I started reading articles I found there like this one, and these ones too. I found myself feeling excited about the possibility of giving my children an education like this one, and I still wasn't even really going to homeschool! But looking at the curriculum made me excited!

Then came Wednesday. I went to a meeting that day and after the meeting I was cleaning up and putting things away. A woman stayed to talk with me. I had met her once before, but I didn't know her much at all. She asked me about my family and told me that she thought it was great that I stayed home with my children. (She never had any children.) She got ready to go and suddenly stopped, turned around and said, "You should really consider schooling your children at home." Then she turned back around and walked out the door! (And I have never seen her since!) When this happened, I literally looked up and said, "Okay, God, I hear you loud and clear!"


When I got home from that meeting, I got my boys in their nap and sat on the couch to watch a TV show and the phone rang. It was the lady who had talked to me at church and she wanted to know if that was a good time to talk about homeschool! I just had to laugh. At this point, God had my attention, but I knew I had to talk to my husband about it because he did not want to homeschool! That night, I talked to him and told him everything that had happened. I told him that I thought we were supposed to homeschool. He calmly took it all in and just said, "If that is what God is telling you, and it sounds like he is, that is what we should do!" Wow, that was the confirmation I needed. We decided that night that each year we would pray over our decision to homeschool and for each child see if it is still the best option.


I think it is really great the way God knows each of his children. He knew we would need pretty bold direction to get that we were supposed to homeschool, and he gave it to us. He also did it at the perfect timing. Shortly after we made the decision to homeschool starting the following year, our son started having a hard time going to the preschool we had put him in. He began to cry every day and tell us he didn't want to go. He even started having nightmares! This was a child who had loved school just a couple weeks ago! If he had started this before we made the decision, I would have felt trapped - like I *had* to homeschool him. But now, I know that God wanted it for us all along!

If you homeschool, I'd love to hear how you came to the decision to homeschool, too!

6 comments:

Luke said...

Isn't it great how things like that work out? I love it.

Thanks for sharing.

My story is rather bland, I suppose: My wife and I were both homeschooled. So, we're naturally planning on doing it too [smile].

~Luke

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

I always love to read the reasons why people homeschool! Thank you for sharing! :D

I don't homeschool "for real" yet, but I came to the decision to homeschool any future children I might have during high school. (Obviously Sean was not opposed to homeschooling or else we wouldn't have ever dated, much less married ;o)I was in the gifted program up north, but upon moving to Georgia, there was no room for me in their program, so I was stuck in basic college prep classes and was miserable in a way words couldn't describe. I would sit in class and could hardly pay attention to the books I had read years ago or the subjects I had mastered long ago.

Finally, I became so desperate, I learned of a homeschool program which I could use to finish up my high school degree and get in community college within the next year. I managed to get a job that could fund the cost of the program and came to my parents with what i found to be a fantastic plan. Much to my surprise, they agreed and I "dropped out" of public high school, with the blessing of most of my teachers!, the following Monday and never looked back.

Due to my experiences in school, in addition to my mother's experiences a public school special ed teacher, I've come to the conclusion that unless you are in the "normal middle" there really isn't much the gov schools can offer in the way of actual learning. And even for the "average" student, the idea of individual learning styles not being taken into account is something I find troubling.

Immediately upon leaving school, I began to read John Holt's books and began researching the scandal that is NCLB, standardized testing, and the textbooks oh so heavily influenced by special interest groups on both extremes of the political spectrum. When I was in elementary school, we still learned reading with phonics, not whole word reading, nor did we have more than one standardized test, but quickly I came to realize this was no longer the norm and there was no way I could subject my future children to such a faulty education.

As the years have gone on, and I've researched more, I've also become disgusted with the lack of outdoor play and nature education for children, the use of textbooks instead of "real" books and quality literature. The lack of proper civics education and the revised history is also problematic, as is the teaching of science with a humanist slant, are other issues with which I am concerned.

I also find the social issues of the public schools to be concerning as well. I am not a fan of coed education, particularly in the older grades, nor do I feel turning school into a fashion show and competition by the way of no uniforms to provide for a good learning environment. School is not a social club, a place to charm the opposite sex, or a place to show off the latest fashions but a place to learn. The bullying, gossiping, immodesty, lack of decorum, and occasional violence do not provide an atmosphere in which children and young people can truly flourish and broaden their horizons, so I could not in good faith expect my children to educated in such an establishment.

In addition to all the reasons I stated above, my husband also feels homeschooling to be best for us, as a military family, as school can come with us, without as much disruption as pulling children from public/private school to school would do. And he'd know, being a former army brat.

Wowza do I talk a lot! *blushes*

minnesotamom said...

Johanna,

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I hope and pray that God will make it clear to me in the next couple years (as clearly as He did to you would be great--I sometimes need to be clobbered to "get it") what we are supposed to do. Again, hearing so many people so passionate about it sure sways me, but as you have stated, I want to make sure we choose the right option for each child as well. Thanks again--I really enjoyed your story.

Joanna said...

*Love* this story!!!!

Lawanda said...

I homeschooled for years and then put my kids in to public school, and then took them out to homeschool again.

I am one messed up chicka. I know :-p

Joanna said...

It was fun to read this again. It's amazing how God works.