I’m sure that as a homeschool parent you sometimes feel overwhelmed with what you have taken on – total responsibility for your kids’ formal education. Knowing that others have been there and have navigated successfully through it can be an important source of comfort and inspiration as you “figure it all out.”
As my youngest graduates 15 years of homeschooling and takes his place as a happy, healthy young adult well equipped to “take on the world,” I share with you our own personal homeschooling story. May it be an inspiration to you and your family.
I remember that before we even started to think about homeschooling, my oldest daughter came home from first grade talking about how her best friend started to homeschool and she wanted to also. It seems like yesterday that we were going over to his house to see what they were really doing. The whole concept seemed alien to me. How could I possibly provide everything a group of teachers and a whole school community provided???
Fast forward several years to my next child. At 9, she approached me with a book about homeschooling and told me to buy it because she was just going to do it. I bought it. I read and thought about it. My husband and I discussed it. A lot. We were still not sure. Could we possibly handle all of the opportunities the highly trained professionals could offer our kids?
It is funny how all of these things work out. We definitely were sent a message. A series of things kept happening showing us the path to homeschooling was one we should try. The last straw was when our 9 year old’s shoulder was dislocated at 10am and they did not call either one of us or an ambulance. They let her cry with ice packs all day. Her arm was blue when I picked her up from school that day. She almost lost her arm.
Because of this, something in my mind shifted. Maybe the teachers don’t know it all. Maybe we could do this. Maybe we needed to do this. We decided she should finish the year as it was just a couple more weeks, but then we pulled her out of school. The rest of the kids quickly followed her home. This was the beginning of the most rewarding 15-year journey of my life!
I researched everything I could find on homeschooling. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I feared it would be! We started with deschooling, one month of free time for every year in school while the other kids are in school. It was like magic. Sibling rivalry ended (for the most part). Our kids read without being asked. Curiosity became a daily occurrence. The best part was that our family was closer and happier than ever AND our kids were learning much more than they had been in school. We hadn’t even really started yet!
What were the key things that worked for us? I do believe the deschooling made a huge difference. The kids rediscovered how to learn for the joy of learning again. That was amazing to watch! Looking back, I think one of the most important things I did, was to shift my mindset that this was my priority now. I wasn’t distracted when working with them. This was my job, my purpose, my mission. I was open to what they wanted/needed and I listened a lot. Finally, we made a homeschooling mission statement for our family. I got the idea from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Family. My husband and I decided that “Love to Learn, Love to Read, and Become Happy, Healthy, Contributing, Functioning Adults” covered the bases for us. If we missed something, the loving to learn and read would provide them with the tools to figure it out. So far it has worked! We have 3 happy, healthy, contributing, functioning adults making their mark on the world. I am more than grateful for this journey of homeschooling! Yes we could and we did and you can do it, too!