The first time homeschooling even entered my radar was when I was a 10th grader in my local high school. A girl appeared in our grade (there were less than 90 of us so a new person kind of stuck out!) and the rumor quickly spread that she had been homeschooled. She was in my Spanish class, and when the teacher called on her, she burst into tears and put her head on her desk. Apparently this was her reaction in all of her classes and by the end of the week her parents had pulled her out to homeschool her again. Of course, in all of our sophomoric wisdom, we concluded that she had so much trouble because she was homeschooled.
Next, when I was student teaching (yes, I have a secondary education degree) I taught a boy who had been homeschooled until his senior year and wanted to be put in public school so he could graduate with all of his friends from church. He was a great student, delightful person, and had lots of friends, so within a decade I’d witnessed two very different examples of homeschoolers both within the public school system.
So far, though, the idea of ever homeschooling my own children wasn’t even an option, but that was about to change. The first time I considered the idea was while Preacher Man was in preaching school. I met and fell in love with two families who homeschooled while we were there. They had the most wonderful children, kind, respectful, godly, and mature. There was such a notable difference between these families and their children than what I’d seen during my years in the public school. A really great difference. I remarked to Preacher Man that if our children turned out half as well as these children I would be the most proud of mothers. So he says, “Well, let’s homeschool our children.” Hmmmm…
After preaching school, we moved back to a small town in the South where I fully expected to put Chipette in our local school when she turned five. However, while I was pregnant with Magpie, I did some substitute teaching in our area schools. After a few weeks, I went to Preacher Man and said, “I can’t put her in our local school.” Things had changed so much from the last time I was in classroom from the academics, to the students, to government requirements. It wasn’t where I wanted MY children to be if I could help it, so I started homeschooling Chipette for preschool before it “counted” to kind of get my feet wet. Then I continued homeschooling her for Kindergarten since students aren’t required to begin school until first grade in our state. By the end of Kindergarten I really felt that I could do this, so we kept at it and it has become part of who we are as a family. We are homeschoolers.
I can provide academic personalization for each child. Every time I plan our school year I take into account my child’s strengths and weaknesses. I work into that what type of learner they are and what I want them to learn. Whether they are “ahead” or “behind”, I can meet them where they are, one on one, every day. They also get to learn and study things that they are interested in from a unit study on ballet or mythological creatures to a trip around the world. Instead of trying to fit my children into a curriculum, I have the freedom to fit the curriculum to my children.
I can infuse our learning with our Christian faith. While not every subject I use comes from religious publishers quite a few do because I feel since God has given me these gifts He expects and commands me to teach them about Him, through history, science, art, music, literature, and, of course, Bible study. If I send my children out into the world without a thorough knowledge of God and the Bible, then I will feel like a failure. This would be true whether I homeschooled them or not. Homeschooling just gives me more hours in the day to achieve it since I can see their spiritual strengths to encourage and their spiritual weaknesses to help strengthen.
I can enjoy the flexibility. My children don’t have to wake up by a certain time. We start school once breakfast is eaten and morning chores are finished. Whatever we don’t complete we pick up the next day. If the weather is really nice, we might spend the day in the backyard. If Preacher Man wants to go to a minister’s convention, then we can pack up and go with him. If family wants to come and visit, we can drop everything to spend time with them. I love the fact that we aren’t rushed during our day with plenty of time to play and imagine!
I can shelter their hearts and minds. The connotation of sheltering children gets a bad rap a lot of times, but I adore the fact that my kids are sheltered. The concept of sheltering in the Bible is a good thing, a precious thing, something to be strived for. I have no problem that my children don’t know about mean girls or cliques. They don’t know about bad language or bullies. They still have their childhood innocence and feel no need to fit in. They are who they are without being made fun of for their interests, what they wear, or anything else. None of this means that my children will never learn about the “real world”, but it does mean that I get to control their introduction to it and how it is introduced.
I can instill them with a love of learning. Whether my children love every subject is not necessary, but I do want them to love the process of figuring things out on their own. The joy of getting lost in great literature. The fun of learning something new. The magic of putting your words on paper and creating something wonderful. The beauty that is found in science, math, and language.
While I don’t know how long our homeschool life will last, I do know that for the foreseeable future it is here to stay. And I’m happy about that. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us, but I do know that I am enjoying the memories I’m making with my children. I’m blessed to be here with them.
A long, wonderful journey has led me to homeschool in the tree house,
P. S. And in case you are curious, because I get asked this a lot when people find out I was a teacher, my teaching degree has helped very little, if any, in homeschooling. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.