I thought that the older grades would be an uphill battle. When I was younger, before even having children, I had a desire to pull mine from Jr. High. Travel. Explore. Let them skip the crazy hormonal mixing pot that is Middle School. I had dreams to buy an RV and travel the US for these middle years. Then my kids would be ready for public school, and they’d follow my footsteps in High School involved in sports, cheer leading, band, choir, year book, student council – all that every kid needs to experience right down to the end with Prom and Senior Night.
And then I had two little boys. One with some quirky learning issues. We were able to use county resources to help with his speech. A developmental learning person would come to our home once a month to work on him and track his progress. They always seemed to say the same thing. That he was brilliant. Yet had these weird gaps. Disconnects. They couldn’t say what it was – but that it was there. They weren’t clear on a path to help him, but tried to reassure me that they could.
I thought that most of it was maturity. Learning at a different pace than their clipboard of check off lists directed. Last month they would circle one area, only to star that area as ‘tremendous progress’ the next. Yet, in during the month, there were no direct actions that caused the difference, only time. I didn’t like him being poked and prodded, questioned and doubted, and only measured by a check list of what they thought he should be able to accomplish. No one would ask me for my list, of what we were working on, and where I saw growth and accomplishment or areas for further training.
And we were talking about a 2-4 year old here. So crazily intense.
As we started to pull away from these county and state resources, we felt the pressure of cutting contacts. They gave threatening remarks of what would happen if we chose to go to Kindergarten without Head Start. Services would be reduced and our oldest son would be penalized for my decisions. I truly felt how little they regarded me as a parent, the key person working with him. How each year my rights were being taken away.
Kindergarten came – if we picked Public School, he’d have almost an hour bus ride each way to a part time public school. Or I could spend half of my day driving back and forth.
We looked at private school and did not consider the price for the school worth the outcome – and again – from where we lived, half of my day would be driving back and forth. With a toddler. Yeah.
So I started looking at packaged curriculum. I spent months researching every top brand at the time. During this time, we kept meeting homeschoolers. By the dozens. Everywhere we went, we’d meet another homeschool family. We hooked up with a couple of families that are still our mentors today. When I finally decided to do A.C.E. School of Tomorrow – I felt so relieved. I joyfully announced to my friends that we were ready to order our year’s worth of curriculum for less than the price of one month at the private school.
I’ve written and spoke about this before – this is where I got my best piece of advice, and the advice I still pass on.
Take that money – and visit every used book store in every town that you drive through. Pick up every field guide and interesting book that you can find on every topic imaginable. Then, as you go throughout your day, and the boys ask their countless questions, never answer with “I don’t know”, answer with “Let’s look it up”. We spent $82 dollars that whole first year.
We added The Writing Road to Reading, and Miquon Math and continued with our explorations. Galloping the Globe and co-ops kept our learning full.
During this time, we read. And read and researched, and read some more. The Lord was doing something in my heart. He pulled verse after verse. Personal story after story. The more I asked, the more he revealed. How He wanted the parents to train the children. How He wanted the Word to be the focal point of their learning. How learning anything outside of the Word was a waste of time. How spending hours a day in a state run building that rejects God and Christ was against His plan for the family.
He also showed me how He would be responsible for the boys. He would provide what they would need to grow and learn. He would be the only one that could make them wise and full of good wholesome character. Outside of consistent training in the Word, it would be left to chance.
I watched many of my friends raise their kids with 20 minutes of Sunday School and a week of public school. I’d see wonderful curious children who loved Jesus with their whole heart turn from their family, quenched of any desire to learn, and turn their hearts from the Lord to their friends at school. It would break my heart. The mothers would cry, and wonder how their kids could act this way after they ‘raised them in the church’.
I didn’t want to ‘raise them in the church’. I wanted to raise them at home. I wanted communication. To experience life with them. I wanted to be able to answer their questions. I wanted to be a part of their day, and not wait for reports from their teacher to tell me how they are doing. I didn’t want to pay someone else to do what I felt the Lord was directing me to do.
And so we began. I felt like we partnered with Doorposts and the Good News Club to start our character training. For 5 years we volunteered with the Good News Club. It laid a solid foundation to the Word, as they go through the bible in a 5 year cycle. Doorposts gave me the tools to help shape the character of the boys directly through the Word.
And each year. We did it. Each year. It got easier.
I used to think that we’d stop in High School. But now that we are in it a year, I would never without a huge revelation from the Lord or a HUGE life change.
The learning blocks build beautifully onto each other. As they learn to read and figure and use logic and reasoning – each lesson is more wonderful than the last. All of those observations and questions from their early childhood lay a foundation for our detailed intentional learning with Biology, Literature and History now. The great foundation that Miquon laid gave them understanding of numbers and operations that give us fun full mathematic challenges now.
And yet, even last night, standing at the pool – I receive the question I’ve been given hundreds of times since moving to this city – Why are you homeschooling. It seems to be given in the tone of – when are you going to quit this crazy thing? Why don’t you partner with our great High School in town?
I find myself giving a simple answer, trying to respect the other person’s choice. I don’t give my crazy girl answer.
How could I quit? How could I stop just 3 years away from completion? I want to finish this race. We are in the home stretch. God has continued to be amazing with His provision and direction for our family. This walk of faith – these last 10+ years – I can not even express in words. Each day we awake with the thrilling expectation of something great. Each night we fall asleep exhausted from a wonderful day. Each morning we enjoy our intentional learning together. We grow in the Word, Character, Academics, Family. How could I turn my back on my core belief that the family should be centered around the home?
I know how hard it is to be a stay at home mom with one salary. Our one salary comes from the retail industry. My husband had a year off of work in Central Oregon. He had a year off of work when the boy were small as well. I know what it is like to drive 20 year old cars. To share one 1991 Ford truck that only seats 3 with a family of 4. I know what it’s like to depend on the Food Share Building for a week’s worth of groceries. To not know how the rent will get paid.
It always does. And this size 16 girl has never really been hungry. And we’ve made it to every event we needed to attend. And I have a huge resource room with enough products to start a school for many students. The walk of faith – amazing. Hard yes. I’ve learned so much these past years. It is one thing to put my life in his hands, but to put the lives of my two precious boys? I use the word ME and I a lot – but my husband is 100 percent with us every step of the way. We do this together.
I’ve also seen those kids who had amazing home learning experiences and then went to a public school to finish out. They wanted to ‘experience high school’. Sadly, I have not yet seen it work out well for the child. Morals and their Christian walk suffer for their desire to fit in to the public school scene.
In this town, we still do not have friends we hang out with that are homeschooled. We know of two families that have boys our age and chat occasionally, but do not live close enough to partner as much as I’d like. We are gathering with a small group of families that have younger children and I hope to be that beacon that was there when we were starting out.
I’m still not quite sure what people want to hear when they ask why we homeschool. Usually it is in a setting where the reply only has a minute or two of time for response. Do they expect me to say I Hate Public School? That they are full of evil? That I don’t like those kids? It feels like they are daring me to say it. Our local school has Christians as their administration staff. Their teachers are so amazingly wonderful to the children. The school fully supports our sports teams and children. But it isn’t on the path that God gave us to walk.
And that’s the bottom line. We follow what the Lord puts in our path, and so far, in 10 years, it has not been Public or Private School. He has not blessed me working outside of the home, even though I had a wonderful successful professional career before having children.
I get quite a few comments daily about my boys as well. Moms come to our home and want to know the secret to having good boys. They see them volunteer in the community, or the boys have helped them with a project. I’ll get excited and share from my heart the details to the character training – and – like the last person who was here, they will sigh and be discouraged and say they don’t have time to do that. Is there a package? Something simple?
Raising children is simple – but it takes time. And commitment. And conversations. Any monetary shortage is filled with the joy of growing together.
And I am quite aware – painfully aware, that for one son, I only really have a year or two left. He already has plans for this summer and next summer to be away from home. He has plans of what he wants to do, and is in the volunteering/internships to get him there now.
For the rest of my life, I can’t imagine regretting one day of homeschooling – and that is the other difference I’ve seen in this environment.
Never, before the day we moved here, with the other groups, did we gather to talk about how much we didn’t like our kids. How we didn’t like our teens. How we couldn’t wait for them to move out. Yet, at almost every single gathering – that is the constant conversation. The complaints of weekends and extended school vacations. What in the world are they supposed to do with their kids? I really don’t know how to respond to those conversations. I just sit. Quietly. And wish. Wish with my whole heart, that they could experience just one of our days.
I know most of my readers, and realize that many of you are surrounded by homeschoolers. I never knew that we would end up being surrounded by people who are against homeschooling.
Our goals remain the same. Explore. Question everything. Look it up. Intentional living. Discipline and training. Serving. Time in the Word. Character training. I hope to release two men who will serve their communities and families with a large assortment of skills and knowledge. I hope that they will be able to support their families doing something that they love.
Thanks for reading. Not sure if I ever really answered the question.
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
That is what you did and all homeschool families.
Not to be mean but when you are in school who is training your child? Not you but the government. It doesn’t matter who the teacher is, in school the teacher is hired by the government. Private school? Still hired by someone else not you. Also school trains children for jobs not to do what The Lord wants. And that is exactly what we have in our society….people with jobs. Not families, not church, not character, no love for The Lord, just people seeking a job or in a job or needing a job or going to school for a job. So we as a Church did mighty good training our children to find a job! I guess people thought that was the way to go….find a job.
Okay, I’m a homeschooling Mom who used to teach school and I am a Christian. There are lots of Christians who work within the government. My family has public school teachers and preachers – within the same family even. Being a Christian and working at school / government job could be considered missionary work by some. It’s a wonderful calling, a calling of love, a love for others, a love to use the talents God blessed us with! Most teachers I know go into the job for the love of children – certainly not for the money. Teaching can definitely be considered a calling. Also, the Christians on both sides of my family would definitely say training for a job is exactly what the Lord wants – especially if it prevents being on the dole and helps one to get good work. Seeking a job and Working are definitely activities I think our Maker would want us to do.
I agree Dana. My original thought before writing these two posts, is that I feel like when people ask me why I homeschool, I’m supposed to throw in an extra clause to say how much I like the school system, and the school teachers. I’d like to be able to give a reply that is honest to me – full of my passions, without feeling the need to appologize for the other choices out there. Or to give a plug for why they are good – but we are not choosing them. It gets tiring. HOWEVER – Right now, in my boys’ lives, we have many mentors. Several of those mentors are male and female teachers from the Local High School. Coaches, friends, church leaders – all very involved at all levels at Taft High School. The Admin to the Hall Monitors to the Police Officer that is there full time – would totally look out for my kids. They love my boys. They are involved with my boys. If times were to change, and I felt the direction of using the local high school as a resource, I would count these teachers as mentors and resouces, no matter their spiritual back ground, (They have non Christian members now – shocking), but I would still be the parent, and the final authority. But – I should be able to say – with full passion – that no matter how nice they are, and how much they love my boys – they are still using the curriculum that we do not enjoy nor approve of. The government on a state and federal level stil dictates what they can do and what they can say in the classroom. And the Kids. The other kids are still the greatest influence of all.
Sorry for being controversial on your blog! 😮 I love homeschooling but I could never in a million years not love being a classroom teacher. (I do think it’s a calling.) Even if I don’t like the curriculum; I love the kids! I do understand what you’re saying about curriculum and social choices and being able to passionately vocalize your disagreements. (You should hear me on the SBOE.) I like my curriculum way more than my state’s curriculum (and I write this as a former curriculum writer. 🙂 ) Thanks for your post! Now I like to say: Homeschooling Is Easier!
I always feel that people who seem to be the most “against” homechooling many times end up being the ones most interested in it and wish deep down that they were homeschooling. The easiest way to make someone feel better is to make someone else feel bad-method. We started in a school but will be in our third year homeschooling next year. It isn’t something we planned, but has found us as it found you! I am glad to have blogs to read about other families and their experiences! Thank you for sharing yours!
I get this question a lot, too. I live in an affluent area where just about everyone pays for private school. I only know of one other homeschooler in my neighborhood. We are foreign beasts.
Sometimes when I am asked why I homeschool, it seems they are politely asking if there is something wrong with my children. They expect me to say “I homeschool because my child has a learning disability.” They expect me to say “My child has __________ disorder.” Or they expect me to say there is some strong religious or hippie reason for homeschooling. In other words, there must be some extraordinary reason for doing this crazy thing.
Usually they claim that they couldn’t do it because… please fill in the blank here:
a) “I don’t have the patience!”
b) “We’d kill each other.” or “I’d kill little Johnny.”
c) “I’d never get any time to myself.”
d) “My math is horrible!”
This is usually followed by “I don’t know how you do it!”
Lately, I have taken to telling them this little secret that all homeschoolers know:
There, I said it. The cat is out of the bag now. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself.
I do stop short of telling them the obvious reason we continue to homeschool:
I don’t want them to feel that I am making a judgement on their choices. I am not. It is better, at least, for my family.
My oldest went to “regular” school from kindergarten to third grade. I experienced the battles of homework after a long day (YES, an hour or more homework in the 3rd grade!), average teachers (only one great teacher out of many), dealing with kids who had bad homes (I felt compassion, but didn’t really like it that my son had to learn what throat slashing signs meant by receiving them), and the endless work to raise money or get volunteers. I experienced this in both private and public school. All of my energy was put toward this constant, heart-wrenching seige. Did my relationship with my child suffer? Yes. Was I depleted? Yes. Was his self-esteem taking a beating? Yes. Did I feel that there must be something better? Absolutely.
It felt like a HUGE risk to homeschool my children. Was I crazy? Would I ruin my children’s educational progress? Would I hurt their future lives? Not to mention, it sounded selfish, but was I really ready to make the personal sacrifice to educate my children? Or was I simply arrogant to think that I could do this in the first place? My gut was in knots.
Still, my family made the leap. I, like you, have a wonderful husband who is with my all the way. We made this leap together.
You know what happened? Our relationships grew stronger. We had more time to enjoy each other. No more yelling at my kids to get in the car or we would be late. No more “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” No more stress about raising money for the school. No more wondering about how much they were REALLY learning. No more wretched homework. It all added up to making my home… work. And work well.
We are constantly told by people we meet how wonderful our children are. They are polite, kind, and sociable. We are not avoiding the world or sheltering them. Simply, we are doing the best job we can to raise them well.
I feel that homeschooling is a luxury we have chosen. My husband and I are thankful that we have this opportunity to enjoy our children. We read. We study. We question. We grow stronger. Together.
Sure, some days are tough. Some days are average. Some days are wonderful and thrilling. But when people say “it goes by fast,” we know they are right. We are preparing our children to fly – to be strong, independent, informed members of society. We see it every day. We are just so thankful that we get to see it. Up close and personal. Every. Day.
Thanks Nancy! What a great comment! I almost feel guilty at times, at how much easier our life is. Now I have time to volunteer anywhere in town that we choose. We’ve been able to help out the food bank, dental van, cultural center, city events, church events, family events, total strangers – etc. Not just the public school. I feel like shaking people and saying – JUST TRY IT! When they say they wouldn’t have the time or patience to homeschool, and yet, I have SO much more time, and more joy for homeschooling. And the money – much of what they spend money on – gas, extra vehicle, work food, work monies, school clothes, school monies, etc etc etc – are not on our list of needs. Sigh. It is easier. And it really is better. 😉
Yes, this. You said it so well; I couldn’t say it better. Very sweet. I am working on coming out of my shell when I talk about my love for homeschooling my boys. I am still almost a little apologetic, as if I don’t want anyone else to be offended or think it’s a slight or something judgmental. I love how well express how homeschooling has only made you closer, spread your family’s love, rather than gone the typical way of discord in the home.
Our socialization situation sounds so similar. A good friend recently told me that no socialization is better than bad socialization. It’s something I’m still pondering.
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Great post Angie!!
Sigh! I am overwhelmed with so much and one thing that I know without a shadow of a doubt is that God wants us to homeschool. I wish those in my family that doubt or question that would just accept it. For a while now I have thought that we should graduate these sweet boys so I no longer want to say that we will look at things again when it’s time for high school. I, too, will have to have a solid word from God to enroll our sons in public school.
Thank you again for such an encouraging post. As a mother of 4 little boys (and a fifth on the way) it gives me great courage to carry on when I read about what you are doing through the teen years. I also loved that piece of advice you were given to spend the first year in used book stores collecting interesting material and building from there. The amount of glitzy, expensive curriculum products out there can be overwhelming for beginners.
love this post! Thanks for sharing!