Like many things I’ve found myself doing as a parent (attachment parenting, learning about the Suzuki method, figuring out how to adapt myself to a child who needs a rigid schedule, etc.), I never set out thinking, “Gosh, I think homeschooling will be my parenting method.”
In fact, when my oldest was born, I had visions of first day of school photos in a photo album, school pictures on a wall, and time spent doing homework at the kitchen table.
I did not imagine giant social studies projects strewn about the living room, piles of learning resources everywhere, and amassing a large collection of STEM toys and science kits that would be additional enrichment for reading books about robot construction, watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, and following an experiment-based science learning model. However, that’s how things turned out.
I Was Homeschooled
I had a rough time in school. I was poked fun of a lot. I was a very bright, gifted, kid, but I had trouble sustaining motivation and I had a lot of trouble with feeling anxious.
My mom was a big fan of talk shows back in the 1980s and 1990s. One of her favorite of those shows was People Are Talking. One of the episodes featured a homeschooling family, and that was all the fodder my mom needed to consider it as an option.
After a tumultuous time in 8th grade, I was pulled out of the public school and put into an umbrella school for the purposes of being homeschooled as an 8th grader.
To make the long story short, I went back to public school for 9th-the start of 11th grade when I was pulled out again. After taking the California High School Proficiency Exam a few weeks before my 17th birthday, I graduated early and started junior college.
I Never Wanted to Homeschool My Own Child
My younger brother was also homeschooled. Instead of being advanced and bored in school, he had been put into special education, and was bored. My mom pulled him out as well, and then fought every day with him to get him to do his work. He’d already developed a hatred for learning and one of those nasty limiting beliefs that it was something he couldn’t do. I know that now.
As a young 20 year old pregnant for the first time, I did not.
I saw the struggle, knew my own (I kept working ahead, and because I was working with an umbrella school, they wanted to slow me down so I would remain at the grade level for my age, particularly since they’d already skipped me a grade), and wanted no part of that sort of relationship with my kid. I was dead-set on never homeschooling.
So Much for “Never”
As my oldest progressed through the public school system, I became increasingly bothered, but the boiling point came in 2nd grade. He was eight years old. He was becoming increasingly depressed and despondent. His reasons for feeling this way involved both the fact that he was being pulled out of his class several times a day for other services and because he was being badly bullied by other kids.
With this fuel, I went to meet with the principal. The school he was at had a no bullying policy. The principal proceeded to tell me that my kid was “making himself a target for bullying.”
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
There I was, working on a Ph.D., a year out from starting my dissertation, when I couldn’t deal with the public school system anymore. I’d already been reading a book,
The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.
I’d purchased the first level of their history program and Core Knowledge’s What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, What Your First Grader Needs to Know, and What Your Second Grader Needs to Know. I was already doing “afterschooling.”
I looked up the homeschooling laws for Michigan, and filed the paperwork to homeschool as a private school. I got my curriculum, and I withdrew him from school. I started homeschooling him using the classical method, and it was really successful.
Since then, a lot has changed. I homeschooled my oldest through seventh grade. Because of health issues, he returned to public school in 8th grade. We weren’t a fan of the charter school we tried out, but we did like his junior high – I was really nervous about putting him back into public school in junior high because middle school tends to be rough.
He did really well there, and then we had him in high school. He did well, but I wasn’t as happy as I could have been with the high school experience he received. Based on a lot of the things that happened in high school, my husband and I decided that we would homeschool our younger children – preschool through high school – following the classical method.
Not for Everyone
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but it works really well for our family. I work from home, so I’m able to put in the work needed to be successful with homeschooling the kids. We’re lucky to have a really great library available to us, so that we’re able to get books to supplement our lesson plans.
We also have a lot of local museums, and our local rec center, and they are all great resources for enrichment courses for our kids. We have a lot of fun, many of the days of the week.
Have you considered homeschooling? What do you think about the concept, if you haven’t yet?