Tuesday, January 20, 2009

FAQ-Why Did You Decide To Homeschool

Long before we decided to become a Family on the Road, we were asked this question. I was reminded of the answer this weekend as we laughed about some of the story with our visitors.

The answer I want to give today is: Because, apparently I needed it.

I had zero desire to ever be a "homeschooling mom" personally. I had a brief stint with homeschooling myself and it was a positive experience but for the most part Nathan and I attended public school then college and loved both. We are both geeks and did really well academically in school. We still love all things geeky. We sit and have talks that would make some people's eyes roll back into their heads. Not saying we see ourselves as brilliant, but admitting that we know we are excruciatingly boring to others at times due to this aspect of our personalities. It is something I have always struggled with being embarrassed over and try hard to hide it, but I figured it would at least pay off when I had kids. Meaning we just knew we'd have kids that were the same way. And that they'd do great in school. End of story. Or so we thought.

I wasn't anti-homeschooling. I had friends who homeschooled and thought more power to them but didn't want to do it myself and I didn't see it as being a great option for my kids. All of them did end up doing well in school and loved it. Okay, loved might be a strong word. They were compliant members of the school system, had lots of friends and got good grades. They were doing "well" overall by the school standards. Sure we had stuff from time to time but we'd address it and they'd fall back into line and we'd move on. It was all good. Or so we thought.

Enter the youngest child. Kindergarten was wonderful. Great teacher, great class, great experience. First grade was a bit more rocky but he did okay overall according to his teacher. By second grade it was not going well. Our youngest had some issues and by issues I mean he liked to talk all day long in school and the other children preferred listening to him talk over the teacher talking and were laughing too hard to do their work because of that. She called me weekly. Yes, weekly. To discuss what we could do about the problem. (meaning the talking and making other kids laugh-he was doing fine beyond that) I was too mortified to even volunteer in his classroom because of the calls. We tried everything she recommended and so did she. Nada. At the end of the year, she politely asked if I'd ever considered homeschooling.

No. Well, not true. Considered it, decided NO and quickly moved on.

She pressed the issue, a little less politely. She said she thought he'd make a great candidate for homeschooling. Given I get the impression that a public school teacher would find homeschooling to be about as great of a thing in life as the loss of a system where tenure exists, I took that to mean please remove your child because it's better for him to leave willingly than for us to boot him for good.

Oh, and then she told me she was retiring after this year because she just couldn't do another kid like him again. After twenty years of teaching she'd never had a kid like him and wanted to quit while she was "ahead". No, really, she said that. To me, his mother.

So I decided I'd keep him home for a year so I could whip him into shape. Oh, and I thought he was behind in his reading so I decided arrogantly I'd take on that challenge too. Thus our venture into this wonderful life began.

We joke about this today because it's not a painful thing for him or for our family. We aren't embarrassed in the least that he wasn't a great candidate for school and I'm happy to say that because of him we are 100% a homeschooling family today.

I did not in fact whip him into shape. I still haven't. He did read better after one year. I have no idea today how well he reads compared to if he had stayed in school. What is more important is that I've changed in ways far more significant than his behavior or his reading. It's been years now and in time this little project took over our whole family in ways we never could have imagined and we have all changed because of what it has brought into our lives.

And even though I had to fall into homeschooling in a sort of unusual way, the rewards have been as great to us as if we'd actually been the one to decide to do it. We didn't pick it, it picked us is what we like to jokingly say. It is like being someone's parent though, it was our honor that we were picked. And like being a parent, it doesn't really matter how you get there, it's what you do after you are there that matters IMHO.

I won't bore you on the many, many details of how much our style of homeschooling has changed since we began. What all I went through during those changes. How scared I was at times. How frustrated I was at other times. How amazed I was other times. The many times I wanted to give up. The many times I was so glad I didn't. What other things have happened in our lives since we took this leap of faith and how differently I see so much of life today because of it. I can say I'm so glad we are exactly where we are today.

I couldn't imagine it any other way today. I forget what our life was like when we did have kids in school. It's kind of wild how quickly we have adjusted and this became our normal, which leads me to believe it was the right thing for us completely.

I just read a quote by Martin Luther King where he said, "Thank God for the maladjusted child" and I mentally high-fived him. Because that is exactly how we feel about our story which led us to this most remarkable thing. Thank God for our "maladjusted child". God knew that was exactly what we needed to be brave enough to strike out on a very different path than we'd ever imagined ourselves being on.

It's been humbling to say the least. And through that humility, these formerly arrogant geeky geeks who thought they knew so much about education, have learned so much that we needed to know and didn't. We are now humbly aware that we have things yet to learn, so we're still homeschooling. Seriously, it's been a great decision for us.

Oh, and I think it's worked out pretty well for the kids too. ;->


unschoolermom said...

I love this post! Thank you!

P.S. I thought my husband and I were the only ones to have those conversations. :^)

laurie l. goodman said...

Thanks for sharing your story... I too am amazed at how this lifestyle change has benefitted and changed me as I 'deschool' myself and truly discover my own passions while the kids discover theirs...

little castle said...

Ah, so true Laurie. As I've pondered and dug into what ways I want my kids to find the things in life that they are passionate about and that bring them joy, I have been able to see how to do that in my own life.